Last week I finally released the first version of espanso, a cross-platform, system-wide Text Expander written in Rust.

Example of espanso in action.

I’ve built many projects in my life, but this time I wanted to create something people would actually use. Therefore, one of the key aspects to consider was the installation process: it has to be easy.

Being a cross-platform tool, I had to consider the best installation method for each platform and when it comes to macOS, the de-facto way to install a cli tool is by using Homebrew.

In this article I will show you the publishing process I used for my tool, espanso.

Preparing the binary

In order to create an Homebrew package, you have to provide a binary executable. Luckly for us, Rust makes it super easy. In your project directory, the following command will create an optimized, release-ready, version of your tool:

cargo build --release

You will now have a binary executable in the target/release/ directory, in my case:

target/release/espanso

Homebrew expects a TAR archive, and it’s easy to create one using the commands:

cd target/release
tar -czf espanso-mac.tar.gz espanso

At this point, you should have the espanso-mac.tar.gz archive in your target/release directory.

We will later need the SHA256 hash of the archive, so let’s calculate it using:

shasum -a 256 espanso-mac.tar.gz

Save it somewhere, we will need it later.

Uploading to Github Releases

Homebrew requires a URL to download your binary. There are plenty of ways to host your executable, but for my project I used GitHub Releases, mainly because it’s free and easy to use.

Open your project’s GitHub page, navigate to the Releases section and then click on Create a new release.

Insert a tag version, such as v0.1.0, a title and then drag the previously created archive ( in my case espanso-mac.tar.gz ) into the upload section. You should have something like this:

Github Release

Now click Publish release to complete the process.

In the Release page, you’ll need to grab the archive URL. Expand the Assets section and copy the url of the espanso-mac.tar.gz archive you’ve just uploaded. In my case:

https://github.com/federico-terzi/espanso/releases/download/v0.1.0/espanso-mac.tar.gz

Save it somewhere, we will need it later.

Preparing the Github Repository

Homebrew offers a way to create third-party repositories, Taps. In a nutshell, Taps are just GitHub repositories with specific names and a few configuration files.

We will need to create one to host our project. Go ahead and create a new GitHub repository, having the following name:

homebrew-<projectname>

Where <projectname> is the name of your project. In my case:

homebrew-espanso

After cloning your brand new repository on your local machine, you are ready for the next step.

Preparing the Formula

You’ll now need to create a Formula for your project, a very simple Ruby file containing the instructions to install your binary on the user computers. In fact, Ruby knowledge is not required.

In the cloned homebrew-espanso directory, we will need the following file structure:

- Formula/
	- espanso.rb
- README.md

So go ahead and create the Formula directory, containing the espanso.rb file ( using the name of your project ).

In the espanso.rb file, paste the following content:

# Documentation: https://docs.brew.sh/Formula-Cookbook
#                https://rubydoc.brew.sh/Formula
# PLEASE REMOVE ALL GENERATED COMMENTS BEFORE SUBMITTING YOUR PULL REQUEST!
class Espanso < Formula
  desc "Cross-platform Text Expander written in Rust"
  homepage "https://github.com/federico-terzi/espanso"
  url "https://github.com/federico-terzi/espanso/releases/latest/download/espanso-mac.tar.gz"
  sha256 "2473866b99eef9ea983200b7aac91592b938404ffaa1fb8c72beacb2ebd3203a"
  version "0.1.0"

  def install
    bin.install "espanso"
  end
end

Let’s analyze it step by step. In the first line you have to change Espanso with your projects name ( without spaces ):

class Espanso < Formula

Then add a short description for your project:

desc "Cross-platform Text Expander written in Rust"

Then insert your project repository or website:

homepage "https://github.com/federico-terzi/espanso"

In the url field insert the archive URL we obtained in the second section:

url "https://github.com/federico-terzi/espanso/releases/latest/download/espanso-mac.tar.gz"

And then the archive SHA256 hash we calculated earlier:

sha256 "2473866b99eef9ea983200b7aac91592b938404ffaa1fb8c72beacb2ebd3203a"

Then insert your project version ( the same you used in the release tag ):

version "0.1.0"

And finally, change espanso with your binary executable filename, obtained from the first section:

def install
    bin.install "espanso"
end

The last step is to push the homebrew-espanso repo to GitHub:

git add -A
git commit -m "First release"
git push

Here you can check the homebrew-espanso repository.

Installing the Package

All right, if you followed me until here, your users are ready to install the package using Homebrew:

brew tap federico-terzi/espanso
brew install espanso

Where federico-terzi/espanso is your GitHub username combined with the project name.

As an example, let’s say your username is jon-snow, your project is called wolf and your homebrew-wolf repository url is:

https://github.com/jon-snow/homebrew-wolf

the users will install your package using:

brew tap jon-snow/wolf
brew install wolf

Conclusion

This was a basic way to publish your package on Homebrew, but things can get much better. In fact, on espanso I automated the whole process using Azure Pipelines so that everytime I push an update to the master branch on GitHub, my project is automatically built, tested and published on Homebrew. Let me know if you’re interested to know more about that :)

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