Learning Erlang for Web Development

Hal Snyder <>
Sat Jul 15 04:33:59 CEST 2000


Jimmie Houchin <> writes:

> I am exploring my options for web development. Erlang and Eddie look
> like a tremendous foundation for building websites. They look like a
> great foundation for building a web app server or toolkit like Zope
> or ACS.

Welcome to the bleeding edge. Erlang's main use today is in telecom
systems. But see Eddieware and Bluetail sites for free and for-pay,
respectively, load balancing based on Erlang.

I work for a small computer telephony company. That was my excuse to
learn Erlang. But I think there are enough revolutionary ideas in ERTS
to do some very interesting distributed web work.

> I do not have a back ground in computer science or mathematics. I
> have been studying various programming languages for several years.
> So I have at least a certain level of programming knowledge.

Background in any discipline of abstract thinking is a big plus. Comp
sci, math, particle physics...

> Most of the languages I've studied are C++ (very little), Java, Python.
> I've not used any Functional Languages. I've have a copy of SICP ready
> to read if necessary. I will read at some point regardless.

Lisp background makes some of the basic list ops easier to grasp.

> Will not having a background in math be a problem in learning Erlang
> for web development? I might have other projects, but none are math
> related, per se.

Probably a math background is not needed. But math is fun, so don't
let that deter you from learning more of it!

> I have read 'Getting Started' and a portion of the Mnesia pdf. So
> far nothing I've seen gives me any problems. However, browsing
> comp.lang.functional and seeing all this stuff about monads, etc.
> prompted this post.

AFAIK the Erlang developers have just said no to monads. Which leads
to far fewer existential, tail-chasing threads on the mailing list. :)

> If my background (or lack thereof) does not pose a problem, what
> books or other materials would be recommended for learning either
> Erlang or Functional Programming for understanding Erlang? In
> particular materials not a part of the documentation of Erlang.
> There seems to be a wonderful amount of documentation available.

Maurice Castro's Erlang in Real Time, available on the Erlang website,
makes a nice complement to the Red Book for getting started. The
Eddieware sources are an example of a production Erlang system; you
will learn from them how important it is to understand the System
Architecture and System Principles documentation. I even found the
Wikie source (including a mini web server and support for Erlang
Server Pages!) interesting reading, if a bit rough.

Support on this mailing list has been cordial and well thought out,
whenever I got stumped.



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