[erlang-questions] node.js compared to erlang

David Welton <>
Fri Oct 8 16:10:39 CEST 2010

> The fun stuff in Erlang has to do with how the failure model interacts with
> code changing, moving code around, upgrading code without stopping the system
> and so on - these characteristics are extremely important if you want to
> build a 24x7 system with zero down time - less so if you just want to serve up
> pages as fast as possible and don't care if you take the system out of service
> for upgrades or errors.
> Erlang was designed for building fault-tolerant systems - node.js was not

node.js was designed for creating mostly asynchronous servers, with
most people using it for the web, a space where it competes with
Erlang to some degree.

I wrote the journal entry comparing node.js to Erlang referenced in
this thread, and my intuition is that while node.js is not as "good"
as Erlang, it's "good enough" for most web people doing asynch web
stuff like comet.  And, given its popularity and industry adoption, it
will likely continue to improve, if it's managed well.

I see Erlang getting eclipsed by node.js in the web space, and
remaining something of a niche system for people who really do need
all the fault-tolerant, 24/7, etc... stuff.  Erlang's advantages there
are obvious.  However, mostly, the web world gets by without those
things - they may be nice, but most people get by ok without them.

It's a pity to see Erlang remain in that narrow niche, though, because
Erlang would benefit from the "network effects" of increased
popularity that its use in building web applications would bring, and,
in the same vein, would likely make Erlang a more valuable skill for
those of us who know it.

David N. Welton



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