[erlang-questions] Erlang IDE

Jeremy Ong <>
Sun Oct 21 23:23:29 CEST 2012

This discussion springs up on the listserv every now and then. I think
it comes down to a question of demand (or lack thereof). As you've
said, there is a lot of support behind erlang-mode. This in
conjunction with the erlang console is typically more than enough for
most developers. What could an IDE bring? Breakpoints? A robust
debugger? Both of these are very tricky to do in distributed
environments. This is the crux of the problem. Debugging
multithreaded/multiprocess applications is tricky enough (anybody
remember valgrind + gdb?). Add the complexity of managing your
millions of processes in multi-machine environments and you have a
pretty heavy duty debugger. This isn't to say that it can't be done.
But even if it could, it would be fairly complex to use and to reason

In terms of auto-completion and tags, a good portion of erlang code is
template based. I handle autocompletion using evil (vim embedded in
emacs) coupled with C-p although others prefer CEDET among other

If you still want an IDE, ask yourself what functionality the IDE is
supposed to provide beyond a basic editor. Then, if it's practical, by
all means implement one. Personally, I doubt it will ever be


On Sun, Oct 21, 2012 at 1:59 PM, Greg Martin <> wrote:
> It would seem to me that there is much in erlang that would lend itself to a
> very extensible IDE and yet there doesn't seem to be such a beast. I'm
> curious if anyone has any thoughts on why this hasn't been done. I
> understand that many folks like emacs and there is some integration with it
> but it seems that something better could be done ...
> erlang has attributes that remind me of Smalltalk and one of the things I
> liked about Smalltalk was the integration of the development environment
> with the runtime environment. Obviously erlang isn't Smalltalk but it should
> lend itself well to a self encapsulated IDE.
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