[erlang-questions] Time to update programming rules?

Edwin Fine <>
Mon Sep 8 14:28:45 CEST 2008

Look, Make no mistake, I am no IDE apologist. I use Vim, and only Vim, to do
all my work, unless I have Java work to do, in which case I use Eclipse
because of its very good support for Java and all the other things I
mentioned. I didn't realize that any people actually still used 500MHz
SunSparc II pizza boxes other than for bookends. I truly commiserate. No,
really, I was forced to use one at my previous job for some things, and
after being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder from that experience,
I am mostly ok now. I hear that since they were so obsolete they couldn't
even run some of the newer versions of Solaris, they loaded them all into
the back of a truck, along with some ancient and horribly underpowered HP
workstations, and melted them down for something more valuable, the plastic
or metals or something. So if one is truly forced to use such state of the
ark equipment, I totally understand the anti-IDE allergy.

But if you work for a company that forces you to suffer such curel and
unusual punishment, you should let them know it is false economy to force
developers to use such underpowered tools. They would get far more
productivity from spending even US$1,000 on a decent dual-core or quad-core
x86_64 CPU, 4 GB of RAM, 500GB of disk and running some flavor of Linux. I
understand that for architecture-specific development, such as for SPARC or
PA-RISC, one may have to make do with some old clunker. I've done plenty of
multiple-platform development and understand that you can't always have the
best and latest, especially since companies like Sun and HP tend to charge
fortunes for modern workstations. However, you could do much of the
development on a decent Linux box and then switch to the bronze-age box to
do the final compile and testing. It's truly shameful that people of your
calibre should be forced into such indignities.

As for Windows Vista, I feel for you, but anyone who actually uses that
abomination (talk about cycle-hogging!) and expects it to work needs to have
their head read. Format the hard disk and put on a copy of XP or maybe even

Some of the downsides of IDEs, excluding the memory/cycle hogging, include
things like project and build files that are IDE-dependent AND version
dependent. Microsoft seem historically to be particularly offensive in this
regard. I recently tried to help someone fix a C# .NET application. Let me
reproduce what I wrote a couple of weeks ago about trying to get an older
version of the Microsoft Visual Studio .NET to work with the project files
that were created on a newer version.

Be warned: rant ahead, but please take it in the spirit of "ha ha, he's only

I set PATH and LIB to the bin directory containing both the .exe and the
.dll. I threatened the computer with viruses. I promised my firstborn to
Microsoft. I sacrificed goats to Yahweh, Ahura Mazda, Zeus, Apollo, Pallas
Athena, Thor, Odin, Loki, Moloch, Baal, Isis, Osiris, Seth, Prostetnic Vogon
Jeltz, Beelzebub, Pazuzu, Satan, and George W. Bush. Then I ran out of
goats, so I used a neighbor and tried to raise Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, and
Shub-Niggurath. I ingested magic mushrooms and other hallucinogens because I
thought the "Windows development environment", and I use the term loosely,
might make more sense if I were in an alternate reality.

Nothing worked.

The way the f-ing stuff hangs together is impenetrable to me, and evidently
to many deities and evil spirits.

I installed MS VisualStudio .NET 2003 so I could at least build the code,
but the project files that are there are from a newer version of VS .NET, so
I can't open them.

Sorry to say this, but this is one reason why I detest IDEs in general, and
Microsoft's specifically - for that matter, I despise Microsoft in general,
may the bugs of a thousand Vistas infest their armpits. The old, primitive
make system or newer ones like Ant work just about everywhere, but IDE-based
things don't.

Why MS had to reinvent the f-ing wheel and create .NET and yet another level
of non-interoperability I don't know, but I hope there is a special, very
low infernal level of Hades reserved just for them. And may there only be
Windows Me 4.77MHz 8088 PCs available there. And 300 baud modems.

I rest my case. I'll stick to human-readable configuration files that I can
fix by hand if I have to. And Vim (yes, laugh at me, O Emacs lovers, but
it's what I learned first, so there).

Edwin Fine
On Mon, Sep 8, 2008 at 4:42 AM, Ulf Wiger (TN/EAB)

> Edwin Fine skrev:
>>    You should not need a Gargantuan cycle-hogging "IDE" to
> >     paper over mistakes in a design.  Have you studied Meyer's
> >     LACE at all?
>> Now hold on a second :)
>> Firstly, unless you are running X on a PDP-11/44 or NT on a
> > 286, an IDE like Eclipse is not that much of a big deal.
> > These days there are plenty of spare cycles and memory
> > addresses to hog on a modern development workstation.
> I've frequently argued for the use (or at least the preparation
> for use) of Eclipse in our projects, but every single time so
> far that I've tried to use it myself, I've run into obstacles
> like:
> - The workstation I tried it on didn't have a compatible version
>  of JDK installed (and I lacked the privileges to fix it.)
> - The workstation certainly did NOT have enough cycles to spare
>  in order to make running Eclipse anything but excruciatingly
>  painful.
> - (Most recently) Running Eclipse on my dual-core Vista laptop
>  seems to trigger some locking violation in Eclipse, crashing
>  the editor every time at startup.
> I will admit that I've never been willing to commit more than
> a few hours each time to try to get Eclipse working. This
> amount of work or less has been perfectly sufficient for trying
> out any number of plain editors, none of which were good enough
> to lure me away from Emacs, but at least I could quickly get them
> to work. I will feel much better about my tacit endorsement of
> Eclipse the day I can actually get some work done with it
> myself. (:
>  Secondly, although I agree that ideally one should not need
> > an IDE to compensate for design errors in a programming language,
> > IDEs are peerless when it comes to supporting computer-aided
> > processes like refactoring.
> I'm all for the use of IDEs and other power tools, but in my
> experience, early adopters easily forget that a large number
> of people will actually be using quite modest hardware - the
> kind that the early adopter has piled up in the closet because
> he considers it practically useless. I very much like the fact
> that you can be very productive in Erlang /without/ an IDE.
> I side completely with Richard on this particular issue.
> BR,
> Ulf W
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