[erlang-questions] Thoughts of someone new to Erlang

Tim McNamara <>
Sun Mar 11 23:45:37 CET 2012

Hello all,

I am coming to terms with Erlang after lots of experience with Python
and other dynamic languages. Just because you only have first
impressions once, and it's often quite useful to get outsiders' views.

### Suggestions for improvement

## Dense console output

I would really prefer if the console added spaces between terms, after
commas. I find the following quite hard to digest when terms get
larger than this toy example.

    1> [{weather, "sunny"}, {city, "Sydney"}].

## Monotone console

I spend most of my time in Python in iPython, which adds syntax
highlighting and a few other conveniences. It would be wonderful if
some level of colour could be introduced to the interactive shell.

## Clumsy/non-standard JSON handling

This reflects my web-bias and perhaps my reliance on a large standard
library, however there seem to be many ways of handling JSON data.
Each library seems to do things slightly differently. I don't know
which is standard. I want to make an HTTP GET call, pull in JSON and
have it appear as a prop list. [edit: I think I have found this

## No hash map implementation (?)

Does Erlang have a hash map implementation that works in constant
time? Perhaps I should just push through the culture shock and learn
to love the list!

## Ubuntu/Debian packaging

It took me a while to figure out that the package `erlang-manpages` is
separate from `erlang-docs`.

It would be great if an official PPA could be built. They're
wonderful. [From memory, I remember someone else on the mailing list
saying that PPAs shouldn't be relied upon. However, as they're GPG
signed, I think that this is a non-issue.]

### Things that I really enjoy

## OTP

I had no idea that OTP was so powerful. In fact, when I first read
about Erlang a few years ago, OTP seemed like a huge hurdle that made
Erlang more difficult to manage as a whole. However, after taking some
time, It seems like a phenomenal way to built software. I'm sure that
it's going to be great that most applications have a fairly similar
structure and so forth.

## rebar, other tools

There are some amazing tools that support software development. I
haven't built any large projects, but it seems like deployment has
really been something that people have been focusing on.

## Helpful community

I've found everyone on IRC to be really helpful. Erlang is certainly
smaller, but this feels fairly familiar to me as a New Zealander
anyway. We get used to the fact that other places, such as the USA &
Europe, have bigger events.

I love the fact that Erlang Solutions and others have taken the effort
to record conference talks. They have been a huge help over the last
few weeks of coming to terms with the language.

Kind regards,

Tim McNamara
paperlessprojects.com \\  @timClicks  \\ timmcnamara.co.nz

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