Erlang/OTP as OSS (was Re: Glamour, elegance, universality and emergent techniques)

Chris Pressey cpressey@REDACTED
Thu May 29 09:58:19 CEST 2003

On Wed, 28 May 2003 07:08:20 -0700
Jay Nelson <jay@REDACTED> wrote:

> Once again the OO discussion rises and the blasphemers
> curse in church -- during the silence when all are listening,
> no less!  One hopes this can only mark the coming enlightenment
> fomented by a scientific revolution
> (see

Ooh, good page, some really good criticisms linked at the bottom too.
I could go on about paradigms, but, no, I'll try to stick to something
less offtopic.

I found an interesting site quite by accident while searching for info
on folding editors.

Some of the sanest stuff I've seen written about Open Source, especially
when compared to the output of TLA's like RMS and ESR.  Bezroukov's
writings are actually one of the things that got me thinking about
glamour (and cursing in church...)

Particularly interesting wrt Erlang:

"Complexity and size effectively close source code for system
programming projects like OSes [and] compilers after, say, 100K lines of
code without good higher level documentation or participation in the
project from its early stages."

Granted, Erlang is better documented than most "big" OSS projects - but
there are about *500K* lines of Erlang code in the OTP distro!

Certainly most of the "binarization" is merely the vague feeling of
intimidation that comes from trying to work with something so massive -
but at the same time I doubt I'll ever fully understand some of the
design decisions, such as those behind the I/O subsystem, the shell, the
code loader, the bootstrapped building process... if I'm lucky I'll
maybe pick up one or two.  If I were to get extremely lucky and have the
opportunity to work on it full-time with other Erlang engineers, I'm
sure I'd be able to (and in fact be required to) pick up much more
through sheer osmosis.  But I do think most people outside Ericsson who
use it are simply going to use it, rather than examine or hack it - just
like most people who use Linux or FreeBSD just use it rather than
examining it or hacking it.

If, as Bezroukov asserts, "the key to successful programming is not
"source code", it's "understanding"," then maybe my OSS-time would be
better invested in *deconstructing* Erlang, rather than trying to
help improve it?  I dunno, worth thinking about though.


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