[erlang-questions] languages in use? [was: Time for OTP to be Renamed?]

Miles Fidelman <>
Fri Feb 14 16:39:00 CET 2014

José Valim wrote:
>     Obviously you don't understand the nature of supply and demand
>     curves.  (Check out the demand and prices for Cobol programmers
>     these days, or analog engineers.  For that matter, check out the
>     demand for folks who understand microwaves - as soon as computer
>     clock speeds started going up, there was a huge demand for folks
>     who understood waveguide phenomenon - which had practically become
>     a dead art; and then along came cell phones and WiFi).
> Cobol expertise and analog engineers are examples of skills that 
> *were* on demand in the past. When I was at university, there was a 
> running joke that if you want to be well paid, you should specialize 
> in Fortran. That's not the case with Erlang.

Actually, the demand for both Cobol and analog engineers is UP. It's 
absolutely amazing how much legacy Cobol is still around - and guess 
what, analog is pretty central to consumer electronics.
> Instead there is a demand for *skills*. So while you are focusing that 
> scarcity is good for the *current developers*, it is not good for the 
> language nor the community because people with skills will move 
> *elsewhere*. They will move to places where there are jobs and the 
> jobs pay well.
> Just ask how many of the people subscribed to this very mailing list 
> that are actually working with Python, Ruby, PHP, Java, etc in their 
> day jobs.

Actually, that's an interesting question - what languages ARE people 
using - of course I'd add Erlang to the list.  I'll start....

For myself - not currently programming (doing systems engineering and 
business development) - when I get my hands dirty, it's more about 
maintaining some servers from a hosting business I used to run.  The 
general gamut of stuff - more shell scripts than anything else.

When I was getting paid to code I was a big fan of picking the right 
language for the job at hand:

Z80 assembler language (embedded machine controllers) - back in the 
1970s (today, for machine control, SCADA, and so forth, I'd probably go 
with ADA)

Fortran for number crunching - 1970s and 1980s (today, SQL and Excel 
spreadsheets; probably go with SPSS or MATLAB for fancy stuff)

Perl and PHP for ecommerce sites - 1990s (perl for the packages and CPAN 
goodness, later HTML, JavaScript - not sure what I'd use today, probably 
pick a framework and use whatever underlies it)

R&D project for the US Army, focused on message-oriented middleware - 
HTML/JavaScript for the clients; Erlang for the protocol servers (never 
even considered anything else) - currently on the back burner (our 
funder lost their funding, our startup felt the pain)

Last three times I was an employee, our coders worked in:
- C and C++ - military simulators
- C++ and Java - GIS applications
- .NET - intelligent transportation systems

Always wanted to do something in LISP and Smalltalk - but never an 
application that warranted those sets of capabilities.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.
In practice, there is.   .... Yogi Berra

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