Extendable version manager with support for Ruby, Node.js, Elixir, Erlang & more

asdf Build Status

extendable version manager

Supported languages include Ruby, Node.js, Elixir and more. Supporting a new language is as simple as this plugin API.


If you're on macOS you can Install using Homebrew

Basic Installation

Copy-paste the following into command line:

git clone ~/.asdf --branch v0.6.2


Depending on your OS and shell, run the following:

  • Bash on Ubuntu (and other Linux distros):

bash echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/' >> ~/.bashrc echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/completions/asdf.bash' >> ~/.bashrc

  • Bash on macOS:

bash echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/' >> ~/.bash_profile echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/completions/asdf.bash' >> ~/.bash_profile

  • Zsh:

If you are using a framework, such as oh-my-zsh, use these lines. (Be sure that if you make future changes to .zshrc these lines remain below the line where you source your framework.)

bash echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/' >> ~/.zshrc echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/completions/asdf.bash' >> ~/.zshrc

If you are not using a framework, or if on starting your shell you get an error message like 'command not found: compinit', then add this line before the ones above.

bash autoload -Uz compinit && compinit

  • Fish:

bash echo 'source ~/.asdf/' >> ~/.config/fish/ mkdir -p ~/.config/fish/completions; and cp ~/.asdf/completions/ ~/.config/fish/completions Restart your shell so that PATH changes take effect. (Opening a new terminal tab will usually do it.)

Also if you're having issues with it not detecting the shims you've installed it's most-likely due to the sourcing of above asdf.bash or not being at the bottom of your ~/.bash_profile, ~/.zshrc, or ~/.config/fish/ It needs to be sourced after you've set your $PATH.

For most plugins, it is good if you have installed the following packages OR their equivalent on your OS

  • macOS: Install these via homebrew coreutils automake autoconf openssl libyaml readline libxslt libtool unixodbc
  • Ubuntu: automake autoconf libreadline-dev libncurses-dev libssl-dev libyaml-dev libxslt-dev libffi-dev libtool unixodbc-dev
  • Fedora: automake autoconf readline-devel ncurses-devel openssl-devel libyaml-devel libxslt-devel libffi-devel libtool unixODBC-devel

That's all ~! You are ready to use asdf


These instructions are for a specific version of asdf. Make sure the version README you refer to matches the version of asdf you have installed. Checkout a specific tagged version in the GitHub branches/tags drop-down if you need to.

Manage plugins

Plugins are how asdf understands how to handle different packages. The plugins repository lists all of the asdf plugins we know of and there is a super-simple API for supporting more languages.

Add a plugin
asdf plugin-add <name>
# asdf plugin-add erlang

If the plugin you want to install is not part of the plugins repository, you can add it using its repository URL:

asdf plugin-add <name> <git-url>
# asdf plugin-add elm
List installed plugins
asdf plugin-list
# asdf plugin-list
# java
# nodejs
asdf plugin-list --urls
# asdf plugin-list
# java  
# nodejs
Remove a plugin
asdf plugin-remove <name>
# asdf plugin-remove erlang
Update plugins
asdf plugin-update --all

If you want to update a specific package, just say so.

asdf plugin-update <name>
# asdf plugin-update erlang
Update asdf itself
asdf update

If you want the latest changes that aren't yet included in a stable release:

asdf update --head

Manage versions

asdf install <name> <version>
# asdf install erlang 17.3

asdf current
# asdf current
# erlang 17.3 (set by /Users/kim/.tool-versions)
# nodejs 6.11.5 (set by /Users/kim/cool-node-project/.tool-versions)

asdf current <name>
# asdf current erlang
# 17.3 (set by /Users/kim/.tool-versions)

asdf uninstall <name> <version>
# asdf uninstall erlang 17.3

If a plugin supports downloading & compiling from source, you can specify ref:foo where foo is a specific branch, tag, or commit. You'll need to use the same name and reference when uninstalling too.

Lists installed versions
asdf list <name>
# asdf list erlang
List all available versions
asdf list-all <name>
# asdf list-all erlang

View current version

asdf current <name>
# asdf current erlang
# 17.3 (set by /Users/kim/.tool-versions)

Set current version

asdf global <name> <version>
asdf local <name> <version>
# asdf global elixir 1.2.4

global writes the version to $HOME/.tool-versions.

local writes the version to $PWD/.tool-versions, creating it if needed.

See The .tool-versions file for details.

Alternatively, if you want to set a version only for the current shell session or for executing just a command under a particular tool version, you can set an environment variable like ASDF_${TOOL}_VERSION.

The following example runs tests on an Elixir project with version 1.4.0. The version format is the same supported by the .tool-versions file.

ASDF_ELIXIR_VERSION=1.4.0 mix test


When asdf installs a package it creates shims for every executable program in that package in a $ASDF_DATA_DIR/shims directory (default ~/.asdf/shims). This directory being on the $PATH (by means of or is how the installed programs are made available in the environment.

The shims themselves are really simple wrappers that exec a helper program asdf-exec passing it the name of the plugin and path to the executable in the installed package that the shim is wrapping.

The asdf-exec helper determines the version of tha package to use (as specified in .tool-versions file, selected by asdf local ... or asdf global ...), the final path to the executable in the package installation directory (this can be manipulated by the exec-path callback in the plugin) and the environment to execute in (also provided by the plugin - exec-env script), and finally it executes it.

Note that because this system uses exec calls, any scripts in the package that are meant to be sourced by the shell instead of executed need to be accessed directly instead of via the shim wrapper. The two asdf commands: which and where can help with this by returning the path to the installed package:

# returns path to main executable in current version
source $(asdf which ${PLUGIN})/../

# returns path to the package installation directory
source $(asdf where ${PLUGIN} $(asdf current ${PLUGIN}))/bin/

The .tool-versions file

Whenever .tool-versions file is present in a directory, the tool versions it declares will be used in that directory and any subdirectories. Global defaults can be set in the file $HOME/.tool-versions

This is what a .tool-versions file looks like:

ruby 2.2.0
nodejs 0.12.3

The versions can be in the following format:

  • 0.12.3 - an actual version. Plugins that support downloading binaries, will download binaries.
  • ref:v1.0.2-a or ref:39cb398vb39 - tag/commit/branch to download from github and compile
  • path:/src/elixir - a path to custom compiled version of a tool to use. For use by language developers and such.
  • system - this keyword causes asdf to passthrough to the version of the tool on the system that is not managed by asdf.

To install all the tools defined in a .tool-versions file run asdf install with no other arguments in the directory containing the .tool-versions file.

Edit the file directly or use asdf local (or asdf global) which updates it.

The $HOME/.asdfrc config file

Add a .asdfrc file to your home directory and asdf will use the settings specified in the file. The file should be formatted like this:

legacy_version_file = yes


  • legacy_version_file - defaults to no. If set to yes it will cause plugins that support this feature to read the version files used by other version managers (e.g. .ruby-version in the case of Ruby's rbenv).

Environment Variables

  • ASDF_CONFIG_FILE - Defaults to ~/.asdfrc as described above. Can be set to any location.
  • ASDF_DEFAULT_TOOL_VERSIONS_FILENAME - The name of the file storing the tool names and versions. Defaults to .tool-versions. Can be any valid file name.
  • ASDF_DATA_DIR - Defaults to ~/.asdf - Location where asdf install plugins, shims and installs. Can be set to any location before sourcing or mentioned in the section above.


Uninstalling asdf is easy.

Homebrew on macOS

You can also install asdf using the Homebrew package manager for macOS.

brew update
brew install asdf

To upgrade asdf in the future, use upgrade instead of install.

Then follow the rest of the post-installation steps under the Setup section above.

Docker images

The asdf-alpine and asdf-ubuntu projects are an ongoing effort to provide Dockerized images of some asdf tools. You can use these docker images as base for your development servers, or for running your production apps.


To develop the project, you can simply git clone the master branch. If you want to try out your changes without making change to your installed asdf, you can set the $ASDF_DIR variable to the path where you cloned the repository, and temporarily prepend the bin and shims directory of the directory to your path.

We use bats for testing, so make sure bats test/ passes after you made your changes.


See for the contribution guidelines.


Me (@HashNuke), High-fever, cold, cough.

Copyright 2014 to the end of time (MIT License)


Read the ballad.

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