Is erlang too small?

Rudolph van Graan <>
Mon May 10 09:03:32 CEST 2004


It goes like this... Recently, we've been working on a number of 
projects, two of which needed some XML and some needed http interaction 
(using http requests). In both cases, I've run into some bugs somewhere 
in Erlang which I just didn't want to trace, mostly because of a lack 
of time. I am not saying the http or xml contribs don't work - they 
did, but we ran into some issues the cause of which was difficult to 
understand, that we had to abandon the specific (erlang only) approach. 
For another difficult interface we needed to implement some SOAP rpc 
calls to a service, but again, there was no useful erlang code to help 
us with this.

Initially, we tried doing everything in pure erlang and almost 
succeeded. Now I find myself building more and more Java helpers, which 
strictly speaking should not have been necessary. The next problem will 
be relational databases. Some projects just need to communicate with 
these beasts and again I see us using a java interface between erlang 
and the database. Now an odbc interface does exist, but it is not 
complete enough to warrant us building a full scale system using it. We 
will probably end up building a java database layer to handle our 
queries.

So... What can we (as a community) do to make sure erlang can 
communicate with things in the real (internet) world? One cannot escape 
Soap, nor communicating with relational db's. Personally, I think that 
the open source guys do a great job, but can we follow and stay up to 
date with all the important developments? How does one make sure that 
erlang does evolve?

My opinion is that we must focus on the important internet interfaces 
and make sure they work? Examples:

XML,
SOAP,
Database (Not internet, but still)
SMTP,
HTTP

(XML and HTTP does have erlang components and I appreciate the author's 
efforts, but they still need a lot of work in order to keep up with all 
the specifications out there)

My feeling is that the only way forward is to get away from the 
one-author-per-interface model, and to get a larger support base in 
place.

Rudolph van Graan

Telecommunications Specialist
Pattern Matched Technologies

E-Mail:  
Mobile:  +27 82 905 7496
Fax:	 +27 12 667 5342
Web:     www.patternmatched.com
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