Why use ASDF?
ASDF is a version manager for programming languages. It's somewhat like RVM is for Ruby or NVM is for Node but it also supports Erlang, Elixir, Haskel, Ocaml, PHP, Python, Rust and many other languages.
This guide assumes you have homebrew and Xcode command line tools and nothing else. To see the setup of those from a fresh macOS Mojave install, see this short video.
Clone the repo
The ASDF repo page on will have directions for cloning the newest repo github: https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf
git clone https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf.git ~/.asdf --branch v0.7.1
Next, add it to your shell:
echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/asdf.sh' >> ~/.bashrc
echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/completions/asdf.bash' >> ~/.bashrc
Restart your shell (or just open a new tab to work from) and run
asdf to verify that it's installed.
Install the plugin dependencies
brew install \
coreutils automake autoconf openssl \
libyaml readline libxslt libtool unixodbc \
unzip curl gpg wxmac
asdf plugin-list-all: shows all the plugins (i.e., languages) available
asdf plugin-add <language>: installs language
asdf list-all <language>: shows all available versions of language
asdf list <language>: shows all installed versions of language
asdf install <language> <version>:
asdf current: shows currently enabled languages
asdf global <language> <version>: enables the chosen version of a language
## Installing Node
Node requires an extra step:
asdf plugin-add nodejs
asdf list-all nodejs
asdf install nodejs <version>
asdf global nodejs <version>
## Installing Erlang
asdf plugin-add erlang
asdf list-all erlang
According the readme on the ASDF Erlang plugin repo we need to pass a couple of flags to the install command:
export KERL_CONFIGURE_OPTIONS="disable-debug without-javac"
asdf install erlang <version>
asdf global erlang <version>
asdf plugin-add elixir
asdf list-all elixir
asdf install elixir <version>
asdf global elixir <version>
asdf plugin-add ruby
asdf list-all ruby
asdf install ruby <version>
asdf global ruby <version>
Verify you have what you need
Installing the Phoenix Framework
If you're reading this on Alchemist Camp, you're likely using ASDF for Elixir and also want to set up Phoenix:
mix archive.install hex phx_new 1.4.5
ASDF is a very handy tool for setting up dev machines and keeping the versions of whichever languages you may need. It's a big improvement to have one unified tool over several language specific ones.
ASDF also supports per-project configuration via
.tool-versions files and a number of other things not covered in this setup guide.