[erlang-questions] Beyond Strings as Lists

Adam Lindberg <>
Fri Feb 22 09:00:36 CET 2008


Yes, the website really needs a face lift. Just compare it to that of
Python: http://python.org/

I think that the Erlang Extension Proposal (EEP) initiative can take Erlang
a long way just by enabling people from the outside (and that actually means
people outside Ericsson) can take a shot at improving or changing the
language. That process should be encourage and the community should be
empowered to create, discuss and make these EEPs happen. Much of this I
think is in how Erlang and the EEP process is presented. And that happens
through the website.

Right now the website is very static. There's no feeling of community there,
you can only consume. Not produce. (And it also has a very very 90's look
^_^ ). There is TrapExit, but that feels more like a secondary source. Not
secondary in quality or quantity, but not the place to go if you want the
_official_ view on the language and not if you want to help develop or
change the language itself. It's great for user-to-user support though.

The Erlang website needs to be integrated properly with the community, like
a list of user groups, conferences, the mailing lists, links to the TrapExit
wiki etc. All in one place. The first few days of learning the language you
should not have to leave the website, even for Google.

Just my 2 cents,
Adam

2008/2/21 Colin Z <>:

> This entire discussion brings up a larger issue to me. As a newbie to the
> community, looking objectively at it from the outside, I think Erlang has
> come to a crossroads of sorts. It's on the verge of realizing a vast
> potential. Choices that are made now are going to affect whether it ends up
> on a path to fame or obscurity.
>
> It's the only language out there that really offers the feature set
> necessary to easily take full advantage of the emerging
> multi-core/multi-CPU/distributed setups that are soon going to be the norm
> for hardware environments.
>
> By virtue of being a functional language, it's never going to be adopted
> as a "code monkey" language like C# or Java. Typical enterprise-level
> outfits aren't ever going to have their rank and file developers using
> Erlang. I believe Erlang's niche will expand into a middle-ware platform
> that is used to abstract away the details of traditional multi-threaded and
> distributed architectures. It will be the mid and high level developers and
> architects, or 3rd party developers, who engineer this. Code monkeys will
> continue to do their work in imperative and OO languages that plug into the
> Erlang-based middle-ware. So, in this respect, demand for competent Erlang
> programmers will remain high, as well as the salaries they can command.
>
> What's going to make or break this deal is polish and marketing. Annoying
> terms to be sure. As a lone, individual programmer, I love Erlang. Imagining
> it from a product manager's perspective, though, I would never choose it in
> its current state. Most enterprise-level managers won't take a language
> seriously and adopt it for their project if you tell them the standard dev
> tool is Emacs or an Eclipse plugin maintained by a couple people.
>
> The official documentation available for Erlang/OTP right now is only just
> adequate and painful to slog through and decipher. Compare it to Sun's or
> Microsoft's or even PHP's web documentation, though, and it appears lacking
> and less clean. The community is slowly growing, but good tutorials are
> still few and far between, are usually full of grammatical errors, and are
> usually very difficult to locate via Google searches.
>
> It seems to me that all the pieces are there. Erlang has support for all
> the little things that make or break a platform (unit testing comes to
> mind). What it lacks most right now is integration of all those pieces into
> a unified, standardized, and understandable whole. Managers and developers
> like to feel secure and looked out for. They like to feel as if there's
> competent, powerful support out there for the language they've chosen and
> that it has strong, directed leadership guiding it towards a definite
> vision. This convinces them that it's not just a fly-by-night fad and that
> they won't be left hanging out to dry.
>
> Joe does a great job of generating enthusiasm about what Erlang has to
> offer technically. What Erlang has right now though is an image crisis. It
> has no marketing or polish or pizazz behind it. It lacks an efficient,
> organized committee-based senior community. It lacks tools with support for
> the things Erlang does best. (Is there any reason why Erlang tools can't or
> don't support something like Intellisense for the patterns a function or
> receive block is able to match; or the possible patterns returned from a
> function?)
>
> Is there any reason why no one has asked for an interview with Charles
> Ying about his team's experiences? You've got AMAZON using Erlang. That's a
> big deal. How about the guys over at Vendetta Online? You've got the entire
> video game industry (*cough*Blizzard*cough*) waiting to be sold on the
> virtues of Erlang. What about the YAWS people? You need to all be scratching
> each others' backs here. If all you get out of Amazon running simpleDB on
> Erlang is a blog post by Ying stating the fact and suggesting you read Joe's
> book, you're missing out on a lot of hype.
>
> This string as lists debate is a perfect example and is much needed. Any
> modern language that doesn't have powerful, unified, built-in support for
> something as simple as a string will be laughed out of the industry. Does
> Erlang have an official User Experience team looking at this stuff? A
> "higher authority" that sets standards that both minuscule and massive
> things like method naming conventions, APIs, or new features must pass
> through before being adopted?
>
> Is anyone working to update the Erlang website to give it a more modern
> face lift? Hell, 50% of why Ruby and RoR got popular was because they had
> some glossy buttons and gradients on their page.
>
> Please understand that these criticisms are coming from a total Erlang
> newbie that really does enjoy and care about the language. Most of the
> questions are rhetorical. They are just things I'm throwing out, as a
> newbie, that other average newbies will be considering and asking about when
> they themselves look into Erlang. I hope you understand how important little
> things like this are to the further success of the language. I really want
> to see Erlang realize its full potential.
>
> -Colin
>
>
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