Chapter 5. Communicating with Humans

Elixir rebuilds the Erlang tools for working with strings from scratch, bringing them up to speed for Unicode (UTF-8) and recognizing that strings deserve more focus than just a list of characters. Chapter 4 showed you a bit of string handling and presentation (IO.puts), but there are more pieces you’ll want to learn to handle communications with people and sometimes with other applications. At the very least, this chapter will let you build more convenient interfaces for testing your code than calling functions from IEx.


If you’re feeling completely excited about the recursion you learned in Chapter 4, you may want to jump ahead to Chapter 6, where that recursion will once again be front and center.


Atoms are great for sending messages within a program, even messages that the programmer can remember, but they’re not really designed for communicating outside of the context of Erlang processes. If you need to be assembling sentences or even presenting information, you’ll want something more flexible. Strings are the structure you need. You’ve already used strings a little bit, as the double-quoted arguments to IO.puts in Chapter 4:

IO.puts("Look out below!")

The double-quoted content (Look out below!) is a string. A string is a sequence of characters. If you want to include a double quote within the string, you can escape it with a backslash, like \". \n gives you a newline. To include a backslash, you have to use \\. Appendix A ...

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