[erlang-questions] "Erlang as a First Language" -- crazy? or just stupid?

Toby Thain <>
Mon Dec 21 17:01:18 CET 2009

On 20-Dec-09, at 7:55 PM, Jarrod Roberson wrote:

> Actually Erlang as a first language is not that bad of an idea,  
> especially
> if the only thing the person will ever support is that one  
> application.
> Erlang is hard to learn for people coming from imperative C based  
> syntax
> languages and especially those with decades of experience.
> 20 years of doing something a particular way is hard to UN-learn.

Data point: As somebody who's coded mainly C for 20 years - I did not  
find that at all. It took only 2 or 3 days to get well acquainted and  
start building something. The primitives and syntax are not  
difficult. I'd call it a breath of fresh air.

As everybody says, it was mostly fun from that point forward.  
Compared to C-like imperative languages it is impressively less code  
(estimates of 1/4 to 1/10 seem quite realistic). The reduction in  
tedium in favour of expressiveness would seem strongly in Erlang's  
favour as a teaching language.


> If I had learned Erlang and functional programming first it would  
> have been
> much easier to pickup, and would have made learning other  
> imperative C-ish
> syntax languages "foreign" instead of the other way around.
> Lots of people that learn Erlang as a 5th or 6th or more language  
> tend to
> judge the learning curve based on their Previous experience  
> learning other
> languages.
> If you know C, then C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Perl, PHP or whatever  
> is just
> learning a different syntax for the most part. Learning Erlang is also
> having to throw out a lot of stuff you "know" to learn a different  
> paradigm
> of thinking on how to structure your decomposition of a problem into
> functional terms.

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