Erlide packageability (was Re: "Erlang as a First Language" -- crazy? or juststupid?)

Michael Turner <>
Tue Dec 22 06:46:05 CET 2009



On 12/20/2009, "egarrulo" <> wrote:

>Erlang is not suitable for beginners. The language is simple enough, however tool support and API documentation aren't.....

Not to get ahead of myself, and notwithstanding egarrulo's implication
further on that Erlang would be, at best, a distant third place runner
in this sweepstakes ....

Last night, I made a first stab at getting Erlide.  Because I started
late, I got stalled.  I *could* push it all the way through (right Java
download, right Eclipse download, right Erlide version, everything set
properly ....).  And maybe I will.  For now, however, I have to say: the
target audience I'm thinking of would probably find all this a lot more
trouble than I would, and I already find it a lot of trouble.

Of course, I could tell my target audience "Just use your favorite
editor".  But you know what?  Most mere mortals wouldn't know what I
meant.  Mortals use word processors, PowerPoint (and sometimes graphics
and page layout).  And as egarrulo implies, people tend to like having
One Good Window for what they're focusing on.  Tabbed browsers show
that's what they want even when they have ADD.

So I'm wondering: Could Erlide be put together on a one-click install
CD?  Or even better: a one-click over-the-web install?

Of course, this issue also invokes a recursion in my initial question:

 "Eclipse as a First IDE" - pure madness? or just unadulterated idiocy?

I actually wouldn't know, not having used it.  I just use vim.  Because
I am a caveman who eats his own head lice.

-michael turner

>2009/12/20 Michael Turner <>
>
>>
>> That's what I'm wondering.  I'm holding out for a possible Answer #3:
>> "Sure, at least if they are smart enough."
>>
>> I might have "smart enough" covered.  I'm working on a project in the
>> overlap between cognitive science and linguistics.  These people aren't
>> necessarily math-heavy (on the linguistics side, anyway), but they can
>> tolerate odd notations, abstruse jargon and fine conceptual distinctions
>> that would evoke only dread, if not nausea, in ordinary folk.
>>
>> I've been evaluating Erlang for this project in the only way I think
>> possible: after having identified what's important and what's not in a
>> language/system for this project, and seeing that Erlang roughly matches
>> up, I started writing modeling code.
>>
>> Here's where the matchup is clearly bad, from a lifecycle point of view:
>> Erlang is still a small minority language.  Sure, it's possible that a
>> mini-gold-rush is starting for it, and if so, that's good for Erlang,
>> mid- to long-term. But in my experience, the sudden appearance of money
>> can make the programmer supply situation worse in research circles:
>> hackers in academia start getting head-hunted ferociously.  What I'm
>> working on is likely to remain a lab creature for years, if it's viable
>> at all.  Somebody besides me has got to be able to support it,
>> eventually if not sooner.  So I'm thinking maybe the more adept users
>> might be good candidates for the role of programmers as well.
>>
>> But you see the problem: it might mean that Erlang is effectively their
>> first language.  Maybe they had a little exposure in high school or an
>> elementary programming course in college.  At most.  And maybe that
>> experience even turned them off a little.
>>
>> What are the first-language learnability issues with Erlang?  I'm poorly
>> qualified to think about this.  Although I wouldn't say I learn
>> programming languages quickly, I don't have major blocks either.  Over
>> the last 40 years, I've probably written something more significant
>> than "Hello, world" in more languages than I have fingers.  When I run
>> across a term like "atom", I think, "probably lisp-like", and I'm
>> off to the races.  I never really hacked Prolog, but having done it a
>> little helped a lot with with Erlang.  Even Pascal helped: that nagging
>> little terminator-vs-separator distinction with semicolons and whatnot
>> had migrated up into my ulnar tendons since college (so *that's* why
>> they hurt sometimes!), but made it back down to my fingers pretty
>> quickly when called.  So taking up Erlang in my mid-fifties is only
>> making me think, "Why didn't I start with it before my hair went
>> totally grey?"
>>
>> Maybe this isn't the best list for asking this question, because
>> probably most of you are like me anyway, in spirit if not in age.  But I
>> can't think where else to ask.
>>
>> -michael turner
>>
>>
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