I'm trying to do a simple implementation of a scp wrapper in Elixir.

The code is working as intended, but I got a feeling that the error conditions can be simplified. Besides error handling, I don't the best way to append the -r flag if the source_path is a directory with a cond keyword.

defmodule Scp do
  def scp(user, ip, source_path, destination_path, timeout \\ 30) do
    scp_flags = [

    scp_flags =
      case File.dir?(source_path) do
        true -> ["-r" | scp_flags]
        _ -> scp_flags

    if File.exists?(source_path) do
      case System.cmd("scp", scp_flags, stderr_to_stdout: true) do
        {resp, 0} ->
          {:ok, resp, 0}

        {resp, exit_code} ->
          cond do
            String.contains?(resp, "Permission denied") ->
              {:error, :permdenied, exit_code}

            String.contains?(resp, "Connection timed out") ->
              {:error, :conntimeout, exit_code}

            true ->
              {:error, :errunkown, exit_code}
      {:error, :enoent, -1}

I have never used Elixir in my life until seeing this question, so my feedback is very limited and I probably shouldn't be putting an answer on here. However, there are a few ways it could be simplified:

  • the module lstat(path, opts \\ []) reads information about a path, returns a FileStat struct which has a type: field which can be type: :device | :directory | :regular | :other | :symlink; this could be used to determine what the path is (and whether to use -r), and if there is an error it means that the path does not exist (thus adding in the error handling)

  • in the case {resp, exit_code} -> instead of checking the error message contents via String.contains?, do the switching based on exit code and then return the appropriate error messages.

  • in the case {resp, exit_code} ->, I'd add a few extra error-handlers for statuses (for example directory not found on destination, invalid credentials, etc.)

  • for the inputs (user and ip address), a regex could be used to ensure sanity (the ip address looks like an ip, the username is not blank, etc.)

  • the case true -> {:error, :errunkown, exit_code} could be replaced with _ -> {:error, :errunkown, exit_code} as _ appears to be a fall through (I'm unsure about this)

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