[erlang-questions] What problem are we trying to solve here? [was Erland users group [was re: languages in use? [was: Time for OTP to be Renamed?]]]

Garrett Smith <>
Sat Feb 15 17:33:42 CET 2014

I think this group therapy session is going well. People have
expressed important feelings and strong emotions. Others have
practiced good listening and empathy skills.

So, looking around the circle, I'm now wondering if it makes sense to
try to summarize the problems we'd like to solve.

Should we draft a petition to ask Ericsson to change the words behind
OTP? Some think that's a problem. I'm not here to judge.

Should we propose to move the distribution protocol of Erlang from to
something like ZMTP? I don't hear many specific technical objections
to Erlang distribution protocol(s) but, for the future of the
language, maybe it's an important problem to look at.

Should we wrest control of Erlang from Ericsson? For my part, the
changes over the last few years that Ericsson has driven have been
very positive for the technology and the community. But is this a case
where a dictator is only feeding and clothing us, shabbily, to keep us
from revolt? I don't know. It doesn't *feel* like a problem, or at
least not a problem that demands a revolution.

I do have a general angst that other languages could swallow up the
community of programmers that Erlang is suited for. Go, Clojure,
Scala, JavaScript/Node, etc. -- looming territorial threats? Drum
beats through the fog? I don't know - this feels like *personal angst*
that can be solved through late night sessions of programming with
Erlang -- solving actual coding problems, putting solutions into
production, demonstrating 10x productivity over your colleagues, etc.

For my part, I do have a specific problem, which is that I've found it
hard to get colleagues to pick up and use this language. And there are
particular reasons for that. I've observed this process: there's a
surge of interest, but then a fall off. Then back to their standard
toolkit, sans Erlang.

I don't know if this is a problem with Erlang -- it could simply be a
function of cost/benefit. Erlang costs perhaps 3 - 6 months of
degraded productivity for a programmer. That's a lot, but I don't
think it's much different than with other languages. Then it's simply
a matter of the benefit, or perceived benefit -- does it cover the

Regarding this problem of adoption, I can confidently say that there
are pointless barriers and friction to adoption in Erlang. The whole
topic of "how to build an application in Erlang" is *very* hard to
divine and takes time, trial, and error. That's part of that 3 - 6
month learning curve, but it goes well beyond it.

I know, I know. To those of you who think Erlang application
design/architecture is super straight forward, easy to spot, easy to
implement correctly -- please bear in mind that you are much smarter
than a lot of other people. Please consider middle-of-the-curve
programmers like me.

If we can simplify and flatten the learning curve to writing canonical
Erlang applications (and, today, this means OTP compliance), it will
help adoption and help Erlang track in organizations.

For me, this is a problem worth investing energy in, big time. That's
why there's e2. Of course there are lots of angles to invest in:
books, user groups, conferences, online resources, tools, help on
mailing lists and IRC and so on.

Oh yeah, and rebranding OTP *of course* essential to this [1].

But this is just my personal problem, which I've tried to articulate
using lots of "I statements" [2]. It doesn't have to be everyone

I would suggest that we wind this group therapy thread down, soon, and
direct our energies toward identifying specific, important, solvable
problems that we *genuinely* think are worth solving.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRbY3TMUcgQ

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I-message

On Sat, Feb 15, 2014 at 9:11 AM, mfidelman <> wrote:
> -------- Original message --------
> From: John Kemp
> Date:02/15/2014 9:27 AM (GMT-05:00)
> To: Steve Vinoski
> Cc: 
> Subject: Re: [erlang-questions] Erland users group (was re: languages in
> use? [was: Time for OTP to be Renamed?])
> On 02/15/2014 09:06 AM, Steve Vinoski wrote:
> Well, a mechanism for increased interest and adoption is one way. An
> organization that dispels any myth that Erlang/OTP is "controlled" by
> Ericsson might be another benefit
> _______________________________________________
> Sun/Oracle - Java
> Microsoft - .NET
> Doesn't seem to have impeded adoption.
> _______________________________________________
> erlang-questions mailing list
> http://erlang.org/mailman/listinfo/erlang-questions

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