Preface: What’s an étude?

An étude, according to Wikipedia, is "an instrumental musical composition, usually short and of considerable difficulty, usually designed to provide practice material for perfecting a particular musical skill."

What are Études for Elixir?

In this book, you will find descriptions of programs that you can compose (write) in Elixir. The programs will usually be short, and each one has been designed to provide practice material for a particular Elixir programming concept. Unlike musical études, these programs have not been designed to be of considerable difficulty, though they may ask you to stretch a bit beyond the immediate material and examples that you find in the book Introducing Elixir.

How This Book was Written

While reading the early release version of Introducing Erlang, I began by copying the examples in the book. (This always helps me learn the material better.) I then began experimenting with small programs of my own to make sure I really understood the concepts. As I continued writing my own examples, I thought they might be useful to other people as well. I contacted Simon St. Laurent, the author of Introducing Erlang, and he liked the idea of having these companion exercises and suggested naming them études. At some point, the études took on a life of their own. When Simon began writing Introducing Elixir, I decided to convert the études to Elixir, and you are reading the result now.

I was learning Elixir as I was creating the solutions to the études, following the philosophy that "the first way that works is the right way." Therefore, don’t be surprised if you see some fairly naïve code that an expert at functional programming would never write.

Elixir is a Young Language

Elixir is still in the process of development; as of this writing its stable version number is 0.9.1.


Many thanks to Simon St. Laurent, who wrote Introducing Erlang and Introducing Elixir. His book not only got me to begin to understand functional programming, but also made me realize that it was a lot of fun. Simon also felt that the exercises I was writing for myself could be useful to others, and he encouraged me to continue developing them.

Special thanks to devinus, josevalim, meh`, true_droid, yrashk_, and the other people in the IRC #elixir-lang channel who patiently answered my multitude of questions.