[erlang-questions] Time for OTP to be Renamed?

Fred Hebert <>
Thu Feb 13 19:05:20 CET 2014


Answers inline.

On 02/13, kraythe . wrote:
> I Guess my answers would be:
> 0) If there is a business case, you can convince them. Low adoption hurts
> their maintainability and staffing much more than it does for the startup
> or small company. They are a business, not a bunch of unreasonable oafs.

That may be doable. I'm not saying the opposite.

> 1) Why rewrite the libs if you use the same initials. I wouldn't worry
> about that. The programming world is replete with examples of such things.

If we can use the same initials, then that's gained and removes a bunch
of issues.

> 2) and updating the docs will take ... 10 man hours? Do we not have search
> and replace capable tools?
> 3) Same answer as 2.

Yes, but we do not have administration rights to mirrors, say
http://erldocs.com/ and translations that can be hosted by the
community.

The work done with the OTP documentation goes further than the OTP team
itself.

> 4) Dont need to "make sure" of anything. If the books want to be accurate
> they will use the new name, if not "shrug" thats their problem. Trust me
> someone on amazon will post "Its not called Open Telecom Platform since
> 2014, it stands for "Open Technology Platform". There are enough pedantic,
> basement living, people on the internet that will annoy authors into
> submission.

That doesn't sound like a pleasant experience for everyone. Again, it's
not an insurmountable challenge. It's just one more challenge.

> 5) Small matter of documentation. "It used to be called X but was renamed
> to Y in 2014"

Documentation lives on way longer than expected. People still read and
order reprints of the Erlang book published in 1994 (and 1996 for the
second edition), some of which are translations.

Many older versions of books are what is in libraries and whatnot, since
Joe's first version in early 2000s. For people using these versions, you
end up with inaccurate terminology regarding half the name of the
language.

It's a matter of documentation, but it's a matter of trying to do it
right to reduce the amount of confusion. If people look for "Open
Telecom Platform Erlang" it would be sweet to get the new documentation
and content.

Maybe it's easy, but it's still part of a roadmap.

Alternatively, would 'Open Telecom Platform, a framework that is not
just about telecoms' going to be more cumbersome in documentation?

> 6) History is history. Those investigating the language will get it. It
> startedo ut being a telecoms thing and migrated to a general language. No
> problem. Live web sites can easily add in blurbs. Old articles will be out
> of date but not from the time frame of when they were written. No big deal.
> The sky isnt actually falling.

I could see that being made as a decision, yes.

> 7) Obviously this one is just frothing. The man could update the next
> version of his book with more information, cool tricks, whatever and sell
> it as a second edition.

Yes. I like to insert a bit of non-serious content here and there.

> 8) What "traditional SDK" are you referring to? The LISP standard lib? ;-)
> Java? C? Ruby? Haskell? Which one is the "normal" one? Normal is defined in
> the context of the language, not in the context of another language? In
> fact the vast majority of SDKs for java are third party to the JDK itself
> anyway.

I went from this thread's usage of SDK as a similar point to OTP.
Erlang/SDK if you will. If you want to keep it as Erlang/OTP, that can
work, but needs to be significantly better than what it is right now to
have an actually measurable impact.

Otherwise, we're throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks, with no
proof that it actually helped anything.

> 9) Trying to crystal ball the future will only give you a headache. The key
> is to move from where yo are to a point where progress has been made and
> recursively loop on that algorithm, not be paralyzed by "what if .... ?"
> 

Non-serious content here also. Not to be taken seriously, but I wouldn't
be surprised if it were to happen.

> You may have been doing Erlang for ages and feel quite the man but the
> question really boils down to "what would you like for the future of Erlang
> to be?" If the answer to that in your mind is "A niche language that I can
> call myself a guru at and everyone looks at me quizzically and puts up with
> my eccentricity or dare say arrogance." then the current name and trend is
> fine. If the answer is, "A powerful general purpose programming language
> for developing applications using functional paradigms and widely accepted
> as being the solution to the next generation of software problems." Then
> marketing is important.

Oh I love that one. I want Erlang to be adopted so much I wrote an
entire book about it and put it online for free, without advertisement.
This has taken over 3 years of my spare time, because I wanted Erlang to
be more accessible. I invite you to visit it at
http://learnyousomeerlang.com, and maybe buy an ebook or print copy if
you feel like it would be nicer to read that way. If you prefer a free
electronic copies, there are scripts on github to convert it to the
kindle format, and a wget line in the FAQ to download a local copy.

I also kept writing multiple blog posts at http://ferd.ca that guide and
show more tutorials about Erlang, use cases, and tries to sell it as a
language as a whole.

The reason I'm answering to your suggestion negatively isn't that I
don't want Erlang to succeed, it's that I do not believe that changing
the meaning of 'OTP' from 'Open Telecom Platform' to 'Open Technology
Platform' will have a noticeable impact.

Some people do ask the question 'but I don't want to do telecoms', but
in my experience, people's issues are the following, to a much higher
degree:

- The syntax is unfamiliar (or ugly)
- It's difficult to work with single assignment, recursion, immutable
  algorithms (most of your algorithm books that rely on arrays with O(1)
  access to work fine are no longer going to be trivial to translate!
  That's huge!)
- The tooling (rebar, relx, etc.) isn't up to par with other languages,
  even if it keeps getting better.
- Lack of IDEs (that was your prime concern when you joined these lists)
- Fighting the idea that "it will be hard to hire Erlang developers" to
  make it enter and stay in the enterprise.

All of those criticism, in the years I've been in the Erlang community,
have come up time and time again. They've also have come up orders of
magnitude more often than OTP as a name, even if it does come up from
time to time.

I'm sorry I came up as harsh. I do want better adoption for Erlang and
took months if not years of my free time working that way. I do not
think renaming OTP is worth the effort, but I'll be glad to be proven
wrong through bigger adoption if someone steps up and decides to do it.

Now if you please, I'll go back to spending my lunch time working on an
post-scripted chapter to the LYSE site introducing maps to people.

Regards,
Fred.


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