[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?]]]

Darach Ennis <>
Tue Feb 18 00:46:59 CET 2014

Hi all,

The node community got this right (despite scaling issues with npm) with
an easy to use tool to discover, publish and consume modules or packages.
The package format describes enough that it is easy to pin dependencies to
specific versions of 3rd party packages and/or pull directly from github
you want to use a specific fork/branch/tag for some reason.

As a recent convert to using Erlang/OTP every day it was disappointing to
see many popular projects and packages are often not tagged, not versioned
or simply resolved directly from a branch on github in a rebar.config or
Not good.

For a large project using many 3rd party dependencies, some of which will
invariably be unpinned it means each build is potentially dragging in
of packages never-before-seen on each clean build.

I've gone from really liking rebar when I was using Erlang/OTP primarily
for fun
to finding it offers a brittle foundation for building robust systems now
that I'm
using Erlang/OTP every day (which is otherwise jolly and pleasant).

A means to easily publish, consume and discover packages out of the box
would be fabulous. It would be better if it worked for not just Erlang/OTP
other beam hosted languages (eg: LFE, Elixir) for those that. It would be
if it could work out of the box with erjang too.

The easier folk can move from investigating Erlang to running with it
in production through making sure package management and build tools
are first class (or, as good as competing languages) the better IMHO.

Apologies if I'm off-topic or the above points have been labored to death



On Mon, Feb 17, 2014 at 11:12 PM, Ludovic Demblans <>wrote:

> Hi,
>  % erl -install cowboy
> In my humble opinion, such a command is basically a tool who does a few
> things : lookup in a repository index a package named 'cowboy', fetch it,
> compile it in a place and update a file (like $HOME/.erlang) to add it to
> the path. Someone may have said it already in the millions mails of the
> list I couldn't read today, but the main problem would be "Who handles the
> repository index".
> I believe there are already such indexes, one for elixir and one called
> agner. Maybe others. IMHO if "the Erlang/OTP group at Ericsson" (as said on
> erlang.org) starts such an official packages index, writing a script  to
> fetch the packages will take less than hour, rebar will be updated to
> handle this, and multiple tools will appear in the community. The main
> thing is to find who will be considered as an "official enough" index
> maintainers.
> (sorry for bad english ...)
> Ludovic Demblans
> Le Mon, 17 Feb 2014 05:05:33 +0100, Leo Liu <> a écrit:
>  On 2014-02-17 10:07 +0800, Richard A. O'Keefe wrote:
>>> For a comparison, I look at R.  It's not owned by a business,
>>> but it _is_ managed by a core of bright dedicated people who
>>> keep on rolling out ever-better releases.
>>> The one thing that they have that Erlang doesn't is a *large*
>>> repository of 3rd-party libraries.  Having a single place
>>> to look for stuff (linked right off the main page) is good for
>>> everyone.  (There's a single place to *look*; there are mirrors
>>> for *downloading*, which is as simple as
>>>         > install.packages(c("wigwam","goose","bridle"))
>>> That will
>>>  - fetch the latest descriptions
>>>  - download whatever needs downloading
>>>  - unpack whatever needs unpacking
>>>  - compile whatever support code needs compiling
>>>  - put everything where it can be found
>>>  - including documentation and examples.
>>> When we can do something like
>>> % erl -install cowboy
>>> won't that be nice?
>> You nailed it, the single most important change that would make a major
>> difference to erlang.
>> The emacs community has a similar story. Now they have three major
>> package archives: an official one and two provided by the community. In
>> under 2 years, thousands of packages appeared. Now users need not deal
>> with editing features or problems upfront and just package-install
>> solutions.
>> Leo
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