[erlang-questions] hobbyists, erlang, elixir (was Improve $handle_undefined_function)

Simon St.Laurent <>
Wed Jan 23 16:36:49 CET 2013

On 1/23/13 9:29 AM, James Rosenblum wrote:
> I am convinced of the educational benefits of a functional language that
> better allows one to think about the nature of a problem to be solved
> and the structure of a solution as opposed to wrestling with the language

I never took CS, and my perspective is utterly biased toward independent 
learners - aka the hobbyists of the subject line.

I think, though, that Erlang works well for this in that context as well 
as in a more formal environment.  Perhaps it isn't as pure as Scheme, 
but it's easier to answer the key question "why" when it isn't assigned.

Writing Introducing Erlang convinced me that much of programming would 
be easier if more people started with functional languages.  It's not 
actually that much more difficult to get started doing interesting 
things, and there's a lot less time spent wandering lost in the program 
trying to figure out where something broke.

As I look back on the broken way that I learned programming - through 
BASIC and 6502 assembler - I see a lot of lessons I probably shouldn't 
have learned.  I also, though, see environments that, primitive though 
they were, were set up to make interaction direct if occasionally arcane.

I was delighted to find Erlang's shell, which made using this compiled 
language much friendlier.  I was amazed by its remote capabilities.  But 
then I was bluntly disappointed by the difficulty of using it as an 
environment - even a trivial environment - for interactive applications. 
  It became clear quickly that the beauty of my examples would have to 
be abstract, because there wasn't going to be much I could show without 
endless preamble to distract readers from the basics.

Erlang (or maybe it will be Elixir) has the power to be a language that 
transforms computing.  It has the right tools to solve common problems.

However, it may take some extra work to make it easier for people to see 

Simon St.Laurent

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