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If you’re building a web application in Elixir you’re using Plug.
According to the docs, Plug is a specification for composable modules between web applications.
At the heart of Plug is the connection, which is represented by the
Plug.Conn struct, this contains all the data for a given request.
A plug simply takes a connection struct, and returns a connection struct.
This allow us to take our connection, check and modify it if needed, and pass it down for other plugs to use.
Plugs come in two flavors - functions and modules.
The best way to understand how Plugs work is to build one - so let’s get started.
In our movie app, let’s display the number of movies on every page.
Now in our movie controller we could add logic to get our movie count and add it to every action, but that would create a lot of duplicate code.
Let’s create a function plug that gets our movie total and assigns it to our connection.
First we’ll create a new module called
Inside it we’ll import
Then we’ll create our function plug named ‘movie_total’.
A function plug takes two arguments, the connection and a set of options. Since we don’t won’t use the options in our function, we can ignore them.
Inside our function we’ll use Plug’s assign function to assign our movie count to the connection.
Let’s start with a default value of 3 to test it out.
defmodule Teacher.MovieData do import Plug.Conn def movie_total(conn, _opts) do assign(conn, :movie_total, 3) end end
Now let’s go back to our
MovieController and include our plug.
We’ll import the
Then we’ll call
defmodule TeacherWeb.MovieController do … import Teacher.MovieData plug :movie_total … end
Now let’s open our “app.html.eex”
And we’ll add a movie total, which we should be able to fetch from the connection’s assigns as “movie_total”.
<html> ... <p>Movie total: <%= @conn.assigns[:movie_total] %></p> ... </html>
With that let’s start up our server.
$ mix phx.server
And if we open our movie app, we should see the movie total of three displayed.
Great now let’s update our function plug to get the real count from the database.
MovieData we’ll need
Ecto.Query’s “from” function so let’s import it.
Then we’ll also need to alias our
Great with that let’s use Repo.one and give it a query that gets the count of all movies in our database.
Then we can update the default value with the actual count.
defmodule Teacher.MovieData do import Plug.Conn import Ecto.Query, only: [from: 2] alias Teacher.Repo alias TeacherWeb.Movie def movie_total(conn, _opts) do movie_total = Repo.one(from m in Movie, select: count("*")) assign(conn, :movie_total, movie_total) end end
And going back to our browser, we see our movie count is displaying the correct number of movies. And it’s being displayed on each page.