Windows is a profoundly annoying development platform for non-MS languages and a fairly rare deployment target so it doesn’t really get much in the way of attention or tooling. The smoothest Erlang experience on Windows so far is running applications via Vapor (a GUI frontend for ZX), but that depends on applications being developed and packaged using ZX, and the only place that works (for now) is on unix type systems!
It also suffers from the stupid blank console window that pops up because the way that Erlang was built for Windows doesn’t let it run as a “windowed” application, and you can’t make this go away, which is stupid but cosmetic… Please fix that, Oh Mysterious Builders of the Erlang Windows Installer… but I digress…
There is a friendly guy out there somewhere who saw my Erltris videos and wants to play with the source a bit, but he is trapped on Windows. Oh noes! While I do plan to add ZX developer features to the Vapor’s interface, I haven’t gotten that far yet so the all-important ZX development cycle of  ->
zx runlocal ->  ->
zx runlocal is quite painful to get to work on Windows, which basically means that tinkering in a cloned git repo is a no-go.
There is a way to tinker on the source code of a ZX-based project within Windows, but it is a bit hacky and silly-feeling at the moment, and not at all obvious if you don’t know how ZX works internally. I made a video about exactly how to do this for the benefit of our aspiring Erlang GUI programmer and typically if one person contacts me with an issue a dozen other people have already had the same issue, shrugged and moved on, so here it is:
The TL;DW high points, by the numbers:
- Install Erlang for Windows
- Install ZX/Vapor using the “InstallVapor.msi” installer
- The installation lives at
- Click the “Vapor” icon to run Vapor (the first time takes a bit to source and build everything)
- Click whatever program you want to run from the menu (in this case Erltris)
- Close Erltris
- Source path:
Edited sources in that directory should be re-built if you run the program again (if not you can build them again yourself).
This is not a perfect solution — not by a mile — but it is at least possible to navigate the code structure and tinker with things manually if you know where to find the sources. I will eventually add developer features to Vapor but I’m not that far yet. Ideally I’ll be able to add GUI versions of
zx verup, and
zx create project — then this issue will go away!
…but srsly bro, install a Linux partition (or become a Mac fa…, um, Mac “fan”), it just makes everything so much easier than trying to make the Windows pig fly…