Erlang is getting too big

Joe Armstrong joe@REDACTED
Mon Oct 13 14:38:36 CEST 2003

> Hi,
> An observation from the trenches.
> There are huge problems out in the real world getting companies (or 
> even other departments) to adopt Erlang. One of the arguments in favour 
> of Erlang has been that it is a "small" language so the overhead of 
> learning it and, vastly more important, supporting the applications 
> written in it is small.

On Mon, 13 Oct 2003, Sean Hinde wrote:


> This is no longer the case, and from what I see on the mailing list and 
> in conferences there is a strong push towards adding more obfuscation 
> to an already large and (for C++ types) confusing language.

I think there is a lot of talk here but not much action :-)

  Sure there  is a lot  of talk about  things that would be  nice, but
this  does  not  mean to  say  that  the  language  is growing  in  an
incontrollable manner - I have ofter argued that "If we add something"
we should  "take something out" and  I think this is  still and always
the case.

  IMHO  Erlang is perceived  as being  large because  the distribution
keeps  growing  in  size -  this  is  because  the language  and  the
applications  are  not distributed  separately  -  so  it becomes  very
difficult to distinguished exactly "what is Erlang".

  I would very much like to see the distribution split as follows:

  1) "The  language" +  the  *minimal set  of  libraries necessary  to
compile and run a simple application.
  2) A set of applications

	  			- o -

  Now 1)  is (roughly) the compiler,  the run-time system  + *half* of
the  modules in  stdlib  and kernel.  This  is not  large. My  earlier
stand-alone Erlang sytems achieved 1) in less than 1.44 MBytes.

  2) Is potentially huge
				- o -

  The Erlang OTP system is actually three things

	- The language
	- OTP
	- A number of applications

  But the boundaries are not clearly visible.

  I think it would greatly improve things if we could release the
basic language stuff, OTP and the applications separately - so that the"
distinctions become clearer.


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