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

Steve Vinoski <>
Sat Feb 15 14:08:30 CET 2014

On Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 7:01 AM, Pieter Hintjens <> wrote:

> It was extremely enlightening last week, at a workshop with a medium
> sized Erlang shop. Opening statement: "We chose Erlang because it lets
> us build large distributed systems with a small team." Then two full
> days of, "oh, that's one more serious problem we're facing, caused by
> how Erlang does things."

I'd like to hear the details of these serious problems, as I bet they're
not nearly as dire as you make them out to be.

I have decades of experience in distributed computing and have used a
number of languages along the way, and for me Erlang remains the best of
the bunch, by far. I think others here have similar personal stories. It
has nothing to do with elitism, but rather, with achieving working
maintainable solutions on time and within budget.

A technology either lives, by growing and merging with others, or it
> dies. Erlang is far from being a living technology and survives pretty
> much thanks to a single dominant customer and investor. It claims to
> be the best solution for distributed systems, yet is entirely
> homogeneous, which is also an insane contradiction. Distributed
> systems by definition must span space and time, or they are
> LegacyAsAService.

Sorry Pieter, but much of this paragraph is ill-informed. For example, I've
had more success building integration projects with Erlang than with
anything else I've tried. Riak for example includes Erlang, C, C++, and
Java code within it, all integrated, working together, and being used for
different parts where it makes sense to use them, and it's used by many
many people who aren't Erlang programmers and by companies big and small
that don't employ them. The work I did before joining Basho involved C++
and Erlang primarily, with a number of standard and proprietary network
protocols involved, and there were 7-8 Erlang programmers building more
working code than the rest of the 40+ C++ devs.

> How can you build up if your basic layers aren't a
commodity? There's a million times more wealth built on PHP than
> Erlang. Real wealth.

And you've measured that PHP claim how? Pointers to factual sources of
information, please. Hint: be sure to take the T word -- that dreaded
Telecom industry -- into account when doing your wealth calculations.

> Erlang needs to shed its telco ties, and get an independent steering
> committee, and create standards, and multiple implementations, and
> also reach out to other language communities through distribution
> protocols like ZMTP, and educate those communities, while also
> exploiting them and merging with them. Living systems are like the
> Borg; they grow by merger.

There is a relatively recent industrial Erlang users group that includes
major users of Erlang outside Ericsson and also includes the OTP team. It
meets several times per year and has already had influence on helping open
Erlang to a larger community.

I love it when people from outside jump into this mailing list and have
enough hubris to think that their mere appearance here marks a critical
point in the lifecycle of Erlang, like they're some sort of prophet
descended from on high, and that their dire warnings better be taken
seriously NOW or we're all doomed for immediate extinction. And this is the
second time it's happened within a week -- we must be doing something right!

All this for a language that started life around 1985 and is currently
surrounded by a community that's larger and more vibrant than ever, and by
all accounts is growing, not shrinking.

Mock Java all you like. It's a hateful language in many ways. But Java
> programmers know how to work together. There are 6+ different Erlang
> stacks for ZeroMQ, all one-man projects, all lacking any community.

Have you considered that it's because the Erlang applications that need
ZeroMQ-like facilities have better ways of solving the problem?

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