Mix v1.7.0 Mix View Source

Mix is a build tool that provides tasks for creating, compiling, and testing Elixir projects, managing its dependencies, and more.


The foundation of Mix is a project. A project can be defined by using Mix.Project in a module, usually placed in a file named mix.exs:

defmodule MyApp.MixProject do
  use Mix.Project

  def project do
      app: :my_app,
      version: "1.0.0"

See the Mix.Project module for detailed documentation on Mix projects.

Once the project is defined, a number of default Mix tasks can be run directly from the command line:

  • mix compile - compiles the current project
  • mix test - runs tests for the given project
  • mix run - runs a particular command inside the project

Each task has its own options and sometimes specific configuration to be defined in the project/0 function. You can use mix help to list all available tasks and mix help NAME to show help for a particular task.

The best way to get started with your first project is by calling mix new my_project from the command line.


Tasks are what make Mix extensible.

Projects can extend Mix behaviour by adding their own tasks. For example, adding the task below inside your project will make it available to everyone that uses your project:

defmodule Mix.Tasks.Hello do
  use Mix.Task

  def run(_) do
    Mix.shell.info "hello"

The task can now be invoked with mix hello.


Mix also manages your dependencies and integrates nicely with the Hex package manager.

In order to use dependencies, you need to add a :deps key to your project configuration. We often extract the list of dependencies into its own function:

defmodule MyApp.MixProject do
  use Mix.Project

  def project do
      app: :my_app,
      version: "1.0.0",
      deps: deps()

  defp deps do
      {:ecto, "~> 2.0"},
      {:plug, github: "elixir-lang/plug"}

You can run mix help deps to learn more about dependencies in Mix.


Mix supports different environments. Environments allow developers to prepare and organize their project specifically for different scenarios. By default, Mix provides three environments:

  • :dev - the default environment
  • :test - the environment mix test runs on
  • :prod - the environment your dependencies run on

The environment can be changed via the command line by setting the MIX_ENV environment variable, for example:

$ MIX_ENV=prod mix run server.exs


Aliases are shortcuts or tasks specific to the current project.

In the Mix.Task section, we have defined a task that would be available to everyone using our project as a dependency. What if we wanted the task to only be available for our project? Just define an alias:

defmodule MyApp.MixProject do
  use Mix.Project

  def project do
      app: :my_app,
      version: "1.0.0",
      aliases: aliases()

  defp aliases do
      c: "compile",
      hello: &hello/1

  defp hello(_) do
    Mix.shell.info "Hello world"

In the example above, we have defined two aliases. One is mix c which is a shortcut for mix compile. The other is named mix hello, which is the equivalent to the Mix.Tasks.Hello we have defined in the Mix.Task section.

Aliases may also be lists, specifying multiple tasks to be run consecutively:

[all: [&hello/1, "deps.get --only #{Mix.env}", "compile"]]

In the example above, we have defined an alias named mix all, that prints hello, then fetches dependencies specific to the current environment and compiles the project.

Arguments given to the alias will be appended to the arguments of the last task in the list, if the last task is a function they will be given as a list of strings to the function.

Finally, aliases can also be used to augment existing tasks. Let’s suppose you want to augment mix clean to clean another directory Mix does not know about:

[clean: ["clean", &clean_extra/1]]

Where &clean_extra/1 would be a function in your mix.exs with extra cleanup logic.

Aliases defined in the current project do not affect its dependencies and aliases defined in dependencies are not accessible from the current project.

Aliases can be used very powerfully to also run Elixir scripts and bash commands, for example:

# priv/hello.exs

# priv/world.sh
echo "world!"

# mix.exs
defp create_aliases do
    "taskalias": ["hex.info", "run priv/hello.exs", "cmd priv/world.sh"],
    "taskalias2": ["run priv/hello1.exs", "run priv/hello2.exs"]

In the example above we have created 2 aliases, the first example taskalias will run task hex.info, then (run)[Mix.Tasks.Run] to run an Elixir script, then (cmd)[Mix.Tasks.Cmd] to run a command line bash script. This shows how powerful aliases mixed with mix tasks can be.

taskalias2 shows a limitation of tasks where only one of the given tasks will run, the execution of run priv/hello2.exs will not run. The run command, however, can accept multiple files, so in case of running multiple files, it can be rewritten to:

"taskalias2": ["run -r priv/hello1.exs -r priv/hello2.exs"]

Environment variables

Several environment variables can be used to modify Mix’s behaviour.

Mix responds to the following variables:

  • MIX_ARCHIVES - specifies the directory into which the archives should be installed
  • MIX_BUILD_PATH - sets the project build_path config
  • MIX_DEBUG - outputs debug information about each task before running it
  • MIX_ENV - specifies which environment should be used. See Environments
  • MIX_EXS - changes the full path to the mix.exs file
  • MIX_HOME - path to Mix’s home directory, stores configuration files and scripts used by Mix
  • MIX_PATH - appends extra code paths
  • MIX_QUIET - does not print information messages to the terminal
  • MIX_REBAR - path to rebar command that overrides the one Mix installs
  • MIX_REBAR3 - path to rebar3 command that overrides the one Mix installs

Environment variables that are not meant to hold a value (and act basically as flags) should be set to either 1 or true, for example:

$ MIX_DEBUG=1 mix compile

Link to this section Summary


Returns the default compilers used by Mix

Sets Mix debug mode

Returns true if Mix is in debug mode

Returns the Mix environment

Changes the current Mix environment to env

Raises a Mix error that is nicely formatted

Returns the current shell

Sets the current shell

Link to this section Functions

Returns the default compilers used by Mix.

It can be used in your mix.exs to prepend or append new compilers to Mix:

def project do
  [compilers: Mix.compilers ++ [:foo, :bar]]

Sets Mix debug mode.

Returns true if Mix is in debug mode.

Returns the Mix environment.

This function should not be used at runtime in application code (as opposed to infrastructure and build code like Mix tasks). Mix is a build tool and may not be available after the code is compiled (for example in a release).

To differentiate the program behavior depending on the environment, it is recommended to use application environment through Application.get_env/3. Proper configuration can be set in Mix.Config files, often per-environment (see Mix.Config.import_config/1 for more information).

Changes the current Mix environment to env.

Be careful when invoking this function as any project configuration won’t be reloaded.

This function should not be used at runtime in application code (see env/0 for more information).

Raises a Mix error that is nicely formatted.

Returns the current shell.

shell/0 can be used as a wrapper for the current shell. It contains conveniences for requesting information from the user, printing to the shell and so forth. The Mix shell is swappable (see shell/1), allowing developers to use a test shell that simply sends messages to the current process instead of performing IO (see Mix.Shell.Process).

By default, this returns Mix.Shell.IO.

Sets the current shell.

After calling this function, shell becomes the shell that is returned by shell/0.