[erlang-questions] Erlang is the best choice for building commercial application servers

Matthew Evans mattevans123@REDACTED
Mon Mar 12 14:30:37 CET 2012

Yes, this is very true.
But as I mentioned before, most large Java applications aren't "just Java". They include Java SE or EE, Spring or some similar framework, Hibernate or some other database access library, a DB itself, Dozer to do object to object mapping, GWT to do any kind of GUI and so on. Then once this is done, you now need Maven to bring it all together and Eclipse because it's so darned complex there is no way that Vim or Emacs will work. On top of this all of this stuff is glued together by pages of XML. You have a massive learning curve for all of this, worse still any 2 companies are probably using a different combination of said libraries/frameworks. My own company is using some of the above, and even the expert on the topic struggles from time to time.
Although Java will certainly be around for 10 years, there is a good chance that on any project with a lengthy shelf-life some of these libraries would've died or been replaced with something more "shiny". Finding developers in 10 years who know Spring version X, and Hibernate version Y will also be hard. So you certainly have the same issues with Java apps that you do with Erlang. I would actually say Erlang is much better here since, although there are lots of 3rd party libraries out there, 99% of what most people need is all included out of the box. Effectively with Erlang the learning curve is a one off effort.

> Date: Sun, 11 Mar 2012 23:43:56 -0400
> From: mfidelman@REDACTED
> To: erlang-questions@REDACTED
> Subject: Re: [erlang-questions] Erlang is the best choice for building commercial application servers
> Shahrdad Shadab wrote:
> >
> > Thanks everybody for your valuable comments, What I got from your 
> > comments is basically comes down to the very point
> > that the decision of picking java/j2ee over Erlang is most business 
> > driven than computer science / technology driven.
> <snip>
> >
> > Currently I don't see any solution to this problem unless IT's point 
> > of view respected by line of business and business decision makers 
> > don't cross their red lines and invade IT realm.
> Let me preface this by noting that I'm about to commit to Erlang for a 
> major project.
> But... in fairness, picking a language is NOT just a computer science or 
> technology decision.  When one is contemplating investing millions of 
> dollars in developing software that has to be maintained over a decade 
> or more, the decision is far more an operational one than a technical 
> one.  Picking the "best" technology is far less important than 
> considerations such as: Will anyone be supporting this language in 10 
> years?  What kind of tools are available?  Can I hire programmers and 
> systems administrators who are familiar with the language and run-time 
> environment?  In short, one is evaluating the ecosystem surrounding the 
> language, far more than the language itself.
> Betting on IBM ("you can't lose your job for going with IBM") has proven 
> a pretty good strategy for decades.  DEC and Wang are long gone, IBM is 
> still around.  I expect the same will be true of Microsoft.  Who knows 
> with Apple - they're likely to be around, but will they be a computer 
> vendor, or an entertainment company in 15 years?
> Where languages are concerned, Fortran and COBOL had LONG periods in the 
> sun.  For a long time, it looked like PL/1 and Ada would be their 
> successors - they certainly had strong backing from both major vendors 
> and the world's largest customer.  And, while LISP certainly has its 
> fans (and still does), C seems to have become dominant for an awfully 
> long time (in my opinion, it's a horridly useless language, but good 
> tooling, a lot of coders, and tremendous cross-platform capabilities 
> seem to have won the day).   For that matter, if you're writing code for 
> the iPhone or iPad, your language choice is dictated for you.
> Ten years ago, if I were betting millions of dollars on a new system, 
> Java sure would have looked a lot safer than Erlang (and probably still 
> does).  At the time (I may be off by a few years), Ericsson was all set 
> to kill Erlang - it would have been crazy to bet any kind of major 
> system on it.  It was a positively brilliant move on Joe Armstrong's 
> part to open source Erlang and build a larger community around it.  That 
> makes it a much safer choice today - but the existence of a robust 
> ecosystem is relatively recent, and it's still a LOT easier to hire Java 
> coders (or C, or PHP, or even Ruby coders) than to find experienced 
> Erlang developers.
> Miles Fidelman
> -- 
> In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
> In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra
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