In this module, we will see how we can install Julia, setup a default version, and go through some of the usual tools involved in setting up a good Julia development environment. We will not deal with the installation of packages quite yet, as this will be done with its own module.
The easiest way to install Julia is to rely on the
juliaup utility, which
can be downloaded for most platforms from its GitHub page.
juliaup program is executed, installing the current released
version of Julia can be done by starting your command prompt, and typing
juliaup add release
This will take care of downloading and installing the correct latest release
for your computer, but also make it available on your path (which is to say,
if you type
julia in a command prompt, Julia will start).
Another function of
juliaup is to serve a version multiplexer: it allows to
have different versions of the Julia installed on the same computer. We will
not use this functionality here, but for the sake of being epxlicit, we will
specify a default version:
juliaup default release
This will ensure that the command
julia will start the currently released
version. This is important to keep in mind, because this website is generated
using the current Julia release, and so you might not get the exact same
result if you use a very old version of the language.
The idea behind this material is to type as much of it as possible in the
Julia REPL (i.e. what happens when you start
julia). In practice, most
(all?) coding is done in a text editor. For Julia, the one with the best
support is VSCode, which is free, and has a dedicated Julia
The Julia VSCode plugin website has a full documentation of what can be done – it is, essentially, working under the same logic as e.g. RStudio, only for any language.
One characteristic of Julia is that it has amazing support for unicode characters, enabling to, for example, use mathematical symbols to reproduce mathematical notation. This assumes that your font will have good support for these characters. The project Beautiful Algorithms showcases various algorithms written to use Julia’s support for unicode.
One such font is JuliaMono. Other very popular alternatives, all free, are Recursive, JetBrains Mono, Plex Mono, Victor Mono, Fira Code, Noto Sans Mono, Hack, Cascadia Code, and Iosevka (the code in this website is set in Iosevka). There are many others, but these fonts have good symbol coverage, and tend to be very legible on all screens. Feel free to experiment with one that suits you – setting up a good environment is also about your own user experience, and having a font that does not strain your eyes or make differentiating between symbols difficult is definitely a part of it.
Ideally, the font you pick should let you differentiate between these characters:
When you are all set with your installation of Julia (and any additional packages), it is time to conclude this section, and start with the fundamentals.