Emacs as Erlang IDE for newbies

Michael Turner <>
Wed Dec 23 09:55:24 CET 2009

2009/12/22 Garrett Smith <>

> If you just want to teach the language, any editor that supports
> syntax highlighting for Erlang should be fine. You are talking about a
> full featured functional language - anyone using Erlang really should
> be more than capable of figuring out how to use a text editor. Sheesh
> :)

Why should a newbie be fine with just a syntax-highlighting editor?
do need more help from tools, not less. I maintain that an easy way to
compile and run projects and a source-level debugger are vital.

I'm starting to think that's the best choice for now -- no need to call
it an editor, just say "here's a program that helps you write, change
and run Erlang programs."  Later on, they might realize they were
tricked into learning something about this thing called an "editor".

If you want to keep it basic, you could setup an IDE with
Emacs+ErlangMode+Distel and adjust it to your needs (no need to learn
for that).

I'm considering throwing FlymakeErlang and Wrangler in, too.

On the face of it, Wrangler might seem a strange choice -- for, surely,
refactoring tools are for Real Programmers?  But maybe not.  Maybe
beginners should have them at the beginning.  Some common refactorings
are very simple, like "change this function name everywhere."  I wish
I'd had that when I was starting out.

As for Flymake, I really don't buy this idea that syntax error messages
from the Erlang shell are now adequately clear.  Hardly a day goes by
that I don't have to peel myself off the ceiling, shouting, "'Syntax
error before: &'?!  Be specific!"  I want to know more.

And so will noobs.

-michael turner

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