[erlang-questions] Erland users group (was re: languages in use? [was: Time for OTP to be Renamed?])

Richard A. O'Keefe <>
Mon Feb 17 03:53:26 CET 2014

On 16/02/2014, at 3:06 AM, Steve Vinoski wrote:
> I'm guessing you've never been involved in a standards committee. Having spent years working on various standards, I can assure you they are intensely political and are pretty much just an enormous waste of time. (I was once involved in a heavily politicized standards effort with Pieter, in fact, and both of us were extremely frustrated with the whole thing.) I honestly can't see how bringing standards into the picture will help Erlang in any way.

Some standards are pretty useful.
The C standard in particular was brilliant.
(The C++ standard, as a document, is much harder to work with.)

I'm part of the Prolog standard revision process.

In that case,
 - one Prolog vendor sniffed "WE'RE the standard", then
   scrambled to join the bandwagon (they're dead now);
 - there was a phase when "ISO Prolog" was on all the developers'
   lips and used as justification for breaking backwards compatibility;
 - actual *detailed* compliance with the standard is more or less
   lacking, except for a few shining exceptions;
 - a major open source Prolog author has recently basically said
   "the hell with the standard and all backwards compatibility,
   I've going to make Prolog fit for web developers" despite the
   loudly expressed distress of several users who didn't see how
   the changes would actually help.

The Prolog standard was very limited (there wasn't even a
built in 'member' predicate) and this was largely because
the 'intense politics' made it hard to get _anything_ done.

One question I've been known to ask in my software engineering
exam is to get students to estimate the cost of making a
de facto standard.  (I.e., not factoring in ECMA or IEEE or
ISO or ANSI or BSI or DIN or whatever expenses.)

There _was_ an attempt to produce a standard for Erlang;
you can still find the formal specification on the web,
but it hasn't been updated for years.

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