Applications and extensions

Erlang applications

You can use Erlang applications in your Zotonic instance. This is useful when you want to create a Zotonic module that integrates a (third-party) Erlang application into Zotonic. Let’s take mod_elasticsearch, which depends on the erlastic_search library, as an example.

To use Erlang applications in your Zotonic setup, first include them under deps in your zotonic.config file:

%% ...

{deps, [
    {erlastic_search, "1.3.0", {git, "git://", {tag, "v1.3.0"}}}

Then start the application in your module with application:ensure_all_started:

    %% ...

init(Args) ->
    %% ...

Configuration for the Erlang application can be added to your erlang.config file:

%% ...

{erlastic_search, [
    {host, <<"">>}


Zotonic has an extra mechanism for starting additional things that need to be running under the zotonic_sup supervisor. These are called extensions. Extensions are not tied to any particular Zotonic site, but are regular Erlang processes, in OTP fashion.

On the startup of Zotonic, the global $ZOTONIC/priv/extensions folder is scanned once for folders starting with ext_. Each of these folders is considered an extension.

An extension (for instance, ext_foo/ext_foo.erl) can be a regular Erlang module, but is supposed to be something supervisable like a gen_server. It needs to expose at least a function start_link/0. On Zotonic startup, this function is called and the resulting pid is added to the Zotonic supervision tree as a worker process.