[erlang-questions] Erlang shows its slow face!

Edmond Begumisa ebegumisa@REDACTED
Wed Nov 17 14:21:21 CET 2010

> But overcoming that initial "speed" bias is a tough sell. I'm not saying  
> there is an answer to this, and I know that the development team is  
> doing their best to make Erlang faster, but we mustn't forget that for  
> many, the "perceived" slowness is one factor that prevents them  
> developing in Erlang.

I'm not sure that speed matters that much to people anymore (at least not  
for application developers, it obviously matters for system developers).  
Remember when Java and (classic) Visual Basic came out? There were many  
concerns about speed, but in a short period of time these languages  
dominated in application development (especially for business  
applications) because people had other higher priorities like  
ease-of-learning and time-to-market* as Richard pointed out.

Personally, I think it's two other factors that are mainly causing  
Erlang's slower than expected penetration in general commercial  
application development (as opposed to it's well known niches)...

1. Erlang is perceived as "weird"

A lot of people I've forwarded links to on Erlang just find it too  
strange! I'm not taking just syntax, concepts like variables that don't  
change are just too odd for them. And things they find familiar are done  
too differently. "How do I create an object-model?" they ask.

2. Not "main-stream"

Realising that is a chicken-and-egg issue, one problem in application  
development is people feel comfort in numbers. If something isn't used by  
a good swath of software companies people are very hard to convince to use  
it. If it is wide-spread people graduate it to the mythical status of a  
"industry standard" and insist on using it even when there are far better  
tools for the problem space. JavaScript is a good example. I'm a huge fan  
of JavaScript for client-side development but I'm seeing it popup in the  
most unusual places, places which are inappropriate in my view.

* Those two particular issues have a big impact on cost of development.  
Shorter development time obviously impacts the investment amount.  
Ease-of-learning means you can higher less-experienced, less-skilled  
programmers and more importantly, pay lower salaries. It wouldn't surprise  
me if the average cost to higher a competent Erlang programmer for 6  
months is double that for a competent C# programmer! Sad, but these things  
matter. IMO, commercial application developers pay dearly in the end for  
choosing the wrong tools for the wrong reasons.

- Edmond -

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