Version management with asdf

I typically use languages that are unmanageable without being able to version the language release you are dealing with (Python and Javascript). I have also been historically bad at keeping up to date with releases and therefore ending up with code that sometimes doesn’t run at all (Rust and Scala).

asdf is a version manager to rule them all. It provides a common set of commands to manage language dependencies (and the installation of different language versions) but has a plugin interface that different languages can use to bring in language specific concerns.

As a user you just need to learn one set of commands to manage all languages; implementations can build on a stable core system and simply focus on their requirements. Everyone is a winner.

One top of that instead of having multiple hidden files for multi-language projects (usually Javascript and some other language) you now have one file with all the language definitions in.

The only complication I’ve found is retraining myself to the new command set and remembering which commands work on asdf itself (things like updating the tool itself, setting specific versions in different scopes and managing the language plugins themselves) and which work on the plugins (installing new versions). The plugins also have no requirement to be consistent amongst themselves so in some you can specify “lts” as a target for example or “latest”. Others require the full three digit semantic version. These conventions seem to have come from the tools the plugins are replacing.

Overall though I think retraining myself to learn a single tool is probably going to be easier than having an increasing number of per language systems.


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