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Comprehensive ETS bindings for Gleam.

This library is only compatible with the Erlang target!

What is an ETS?

ETS stands for Erlang Term Storage, and it is a data structure that stores collections of data (objects) that are addressable by keys.

Why should I use ETS over, say, a Dict?

ETS tables have the following properties that make them distinct from Dicts:

Why should I use Bravo over other libraries such as Carpenter?

A difficulty of implementing ETS tables in Gleam is that Gleam is a statically-typed language and ETS tables are very much designed for the dynamically-typed Erlang. Carpenter ensures type safety by restricting objects to simple key-value pairs, much like a Dict.

Bravo, however, does not impose much of any restriction at all. The only restriction that is in place is that all objects in a table must have the same type, but that type can be literally anything. In an earlier version of this package, even this wasn’t a restriction, but that resulted in unsafe and un-Gleamlike code.

A goal of Bravo is to be fully comprehensive, meaning that I intend on implementing every single ETS function into the library. This goal may very well be infeasible, but I will pursue it anyway.


Bravo depends on the gleam_erlang package, but otherwise does not have any other dependency.

gleam add bravo gleam_erlang


import bravo
import bravo/uset
import gleam/io
import gleam/option.{Some}

pub fn main() {
  // Create a new ETS table. There are multiple options, but here we are using
  // a USet (an alias for "set" in Erlang terms)
  let assert Ok(table) ="MyTable", 1, bravo.Public)

  // We can then insert tuples into this table
  uset.insert(table, [#("Hello", "world!")])

  // Then we can lookup the object from the table
  let assert Some(object) = uset.lookup(table, "Hello")
  io.print(object.0 <> ", " <> object.1) // "Hello, world!"

  // ETS tables have static lifetimes,
  // so don't forget to delete them when you're done!

Bravo in Five Minutes

First, you must choose a table type. Bravo offers four options:

For the sake of demonstration, this section will use the USet.

First, we must create a USet. We must pass in a name, the table’s keypos (recommended to leave this as 1) and a access specifier (not relevant unless you’re working with processes/actors).

import bravo
import bravo/uset

let assert Ok(table) ="MyTable", 1, bravo.Public)

This will return a Result containing the table, if the table creation succeeded. If there already exists a table with the same name, this function will fail.

This table will be empty, so we’ll need to insert some objects into it. An object can be of any type, but it should ideally be a tuple. (Note: it is better to use a non-tuple over a size-1 tuple! It is theoretically more memory efficient to use non-tuples, and some functions like file2tab generate tables with the non-tuple variant regardless of what you put in.)

To insert, we use the insert function, which takes in a list of objects.

uset.insert(table, [#("Hello", "World")])

A table can only accept new objects that are the same type! This is enforced at compile time, and the type of the table is determined via type inference through the first insert call. (Tip: if you need a table with multiple object types, it is valid to use dynamic.from in the insert call to do this, but it introduces unsafety into your code that must be resolved using decoders.)

Now that we have an object in the table, we can look it up using the lookup function. It simply takes in the table and a key (in this case, the first element of the tuple), and returns the object (or list of objects in the case of Bag and DBag) if it was found.

uset.lookup(table, "Hello")
|> should.equal(Some(#("Hello", "World")))

Theoretically, this is all you need to be able to use Bravo, but there are more functions that may be useful:

ETS tables are powerful tools provided natively by Erlang and the Beam VM, so make use of them!

Further documentation can be found at

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