Today I Learned

A Hashrocket project

Accumulating Attributes In Elixir

Typically, if you declare an attribute twice like this:

@unit_of_measure :fathom
@unit_of_measure :stone

The second declaration will override the first:

IO.inspect(@unit_of_measure)
# :stone

But by registering the attribute by calling register_attribute you get the opportunity to set the attribute to accumulate. When accumulating, each declaration will push the declared value onto the head of a list.

defmodule TriColarian do
  @moduledoc false

  Module.register_attribute(__MODULE__, :colors, accumulate: true)

  @colors :green
  @colors :red
  @colors :yellow

  def colors do
    @colors
  end
end

TriColarian.colors()
# [:yellow, :red, :green]

At compile time, perhaps when executing a macro, you have the opportunity to dynamically build a list.

I learned this when Andrew Summers gave a talk on DSLs at Chicago Elixir this past Wednesday. You can see his slides here

Looking for help? At Hashrocket, we 💜 Elixir! From our many Elixir client projects, to sponsoring the Chicago Elixir Meetup, to the source code for this application, we are invested in this community. Contact us today to talk about your Elixir project.