Behaviors in Elixir (and Erlang) are a way to separate and abstract the generic part of a component (which becomes the behavior module) from the specific part (which becomes the callback module). Behaviors provide a way to −
If you have to, you can think of behaviors like interfaces in object oriented languages like Java: a set of function signatures that a module has to implement.
Let us consider an example to create our own behavior and then use this generic behavior to create a module. We will define a behavior that greets people hello and goodbye in different languages.
defmodule GreetBehaviour do @callback say_hello(name :: string) :: nil @callback say_bye(name :: string) :: nil end
The @callback directive is used to list the functions that adopting modules will need to define. It also specifies the no. of arguments, their type and their return values.
We have successfully defined a behavior. Now we will adopt and implement it in multiple modules. Let us create two modules implementing this behavior in English and Spanish.
defmodule GreetBehaviour do @callback say_hello(name :: string) :: nil @callback say_bye(name :: string) :: nil end defmodule EnglishGreet do @behaviour GreetBehaviour def say_hello(name), do: IO.puts("Hello " <> name) def say_bye(name), do: IO.puts("Goodbye, " <> name) end defmodule SpanishGreet do @behaviour GreetBehaviour def say_hello(name), do: IO.puts("Hola " <> name) def say_bye(name), do: IO.puts("Adios " <> name) end EnglishGreet.say_hello("Ayush") EnglishGreet.say_bye("Ayush") SpanishGreet.say_hello("Ayush") SpanishGreet.say_bye("Ayush")
When the above program is run, it produces the following result −
Hello Ayush Goodbye, Ayush Hola Ayush Adios Ayush
As you have already seen, we adopt a behaviour using the @behaviour directive in the module. We have to define all the functions implemented in the behaviour for all the child modules. This can roughly be considered equivalent to interfaces in OOP languages.