[erlang-questions] node.js vs erlang

zxq9 zxq9@REDACTED
Tue Jun 17 17:12:24 CEST 2014

On Tuesday 17 June 2014 14:41:28 Joe Armstrong wrote:
> ... but manually converting a long lived computation into
> a re-entrant non-blocking version is very difficult.
> The node books say something like "make sure that callbacks
> run-to-completion quickly"
> I would say that complying with this advice is extremely difficult. It's
> very difficult to guess
> which computations will take a long time, and even if you know it's
> difficult to break them into
> small re-entrant chunks.


You can't hit the nail any more precisely on the head.

> Node is very popular so I'm trying to understand what it is about node that
> is attractive.
> npm for example, looks well engineered and something we could learn from.
> The node
> web servers are easy to setup and run, so I'd like to see if we could make
> equally
> easy to use Erlang servers.

"Easy" is not the same thing as "simple". A lot of people are familiar with JS 
and node.js is a fad that speaks to the web 2.0 crowd that can't/won't digest 
a serious discussion about the issues you are raising above. *Anything* in JS 
is going to be easier for this legion of web folks compared to, well, anything 
that isn't JS.

You are trying to apply your deep technical expertise to a shallow social 
phenomenon. As Alan Kay somewhat recently observed, computer science has 
become pop-culture and has very little to do with engineering. I'd go further 
and say he was really talking about the software development landscape as 
applies to the web and other low-performance applications. Folks like you are 
coming from a different world than the folks that use and (especially) have 
made node.js a pop phenomenon.

So, don't worry about what is popular. (Popularity is no indication of value 
-- I don't think this point needs further support.) If you do that at the 
language/platform/infrastructure level you will merely re-discover that 
Richard Gabriel was correct, marketing trumps engineering, the Huns will 
always crush an overly domesticated Rome, and worse is indeed better. IOW, 
you'll turn Erlang and its platform into Java and its vm.

That would make me sad -- for so many reasons.


PS: The corrolary to the above is that if the goal is popularity, then neither 
the means nor the path to success can be inherently technical in nature.

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