[erlang-questions] Erlang for youngsters

Loïc Hoguin essen@REDACTED
Mon Jun 16 12:55:12 CEST 2014

I don't think the problem is so much that these things are hard to 
learn, but rather that you *have* to learn them. OO was hard to learn. 
Pointers took me a while also. In comparison Erlang was very fast to get 
started with as I started writing parsers for binary files immediately, 
then later on making it parallel and eventually learnt OTP and did other 
small things with the language.

At the time there was basically no resources. LYSE had about 5 chapters 
so I didn't really use it. A few blog posts here and there helped a 
little, but it was mostly Joe's book. Today we have tons of resources. I 
do not think the docs problem shown by Garrett is the reason why Erlang 
is hard to learn. I think it's just correlation. (Of course some of the 
OTP docs are terrible, like sofs and bits of the common_test guide, but 
the docs on erlang.org are impressive; only they do not help the Erlang 
beginner, this is covered by Joe's book, LYSE and others.) If there is 
causation then a link to the free version of LYSE from the erlang.org 
docs page should be plenty enough to fix it.

What I think is that people say Erlang is hard to learn because they 
expect to go from 0 knowledge to be able to use it for their job in a 
few hours. This is plain crazy, nobody learnt OO in a day, and nobody 
can learn concurrent/fault tolerant in a day. And it's even harder if 
your mind is stuck on a particular paradigm.

Learning takes time. In today's impatient world this is seen as a 
weakness, but those who do take the time to learn Erlang get an 
exponential reward for their troubles. This is unfortunately hard to 
demonstrate to people who want everything immediately without the effort.

But to kids who have never done programming before? They'll learn Erlang 
as easily as anything else. When you first start programming even "hello 
world" is a magical moment. When you've programmed for years it's a very 
boring moment and you want to skip ahead, which is impossible if you 
have to learn a new paradigm entirely. Kids do not have that problem. So 
stop worrying and teach them Erlang.

On 06/16/2014 12:20 PM, Anthony Ramine wrote:
> Did anyone ever wonder whether Erlang is truly hard to learn, or if it is just how fault-tolerant, concurrent, distributed programming is by definition?

Loïc Hoguin

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