[erlang-questions] Attracting Functional Programmers

David Welton <>
Sun Oct 7 10:37:36 CEST 2007


On 10/6/07, G Bulmer <> wrote:
> During the CUFP workshop, people talked about attracting developers
> to FP.
> The Haskell web site was compared to the Python (I think) web site.
> I believe the pitch for Haskell was much weaker than the Python pitch.
>
> I took a stab at a few 'marketing' statements for Haskell. My
> intention is to stimulate debate because I do feel there are
> unnecessary barriers to recruitment. I do not expect my suggestion to
> survive :-)
>
> You may want to take a look at http://groups.google.com/group/cufp/
> topics
> I am G B-)

I think it's a fascinating subject.  If you don't mind my trying to
foist off some of my own work on you, I've written about it a little
bit.

http://www.welton.it/articles/programming_language_economics.html

My take is that if you introduce a new language, and you don't have
millions of dollars to push it (Java, C#), you're going to have to
find some niche, and do it an order of magnitude better than the
competition.  Something that's not just an incremental improvement,
but a clearly superior way of doing things, where "things" means
something that matters to your average industry programmer.

To my way of thinking, this would explain why Erlang is getting a lot
of attention from people these days - it does concurrency really well.
 That one thing, which is seen as increasingly important in a
multi-core future, is enough for people to pick up Erlang and look at
it.  In the past, Tk was enough to get people interested in Tcl, the
promise of very easy dynamic web pages got people interested in PHP,
Ruby on Rails got people interested in Ruby, and so on.  Of course,
that's not the only way languages grow in popularity - Python
gradually built up a following by being simple, clean and practical
for a wide variety of tasks.  It does seem to help a lot though - if
you get that "killer app", people will, at least for a while, ignore
other shortcomings in a language, which is crucial, because it's very
likely that a newcomer won't have huge libraries, books, user groups
and some of the other positive externalities that come with
popularity.

-- 
David N. Welton
http://www.welton.it/davidw/



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