[erlang-questions] Visual Erlang notation v0.1.0 - feedback request

Torben Hoffmann torben.hoffmann@REDACTED
Mon May 5 10:32:05 CEST 2014

Garrett Smith writes:

> Hi Torben,
> On Fri, May 2, 2014 at 2:21 AM, Torben Hoffmann
> <torben.hoffmann@REDACTED> wrote:
>> Hi,
>> As I have mentioned before I have been working on a visual notation for Erlang and
>> although it is not complete yet I have received requests to release it anyway, so
>> here goes...
>> https://github.com/esl/visual_erlang
>> One extra thing missing from the to-do list is state data for processes.
>> I would like some feedback on how you feel the abstraction level is.
>> The purpose of Visual Erlang is not to be able to specify every little detail of what
>> happens in an Erlang program, but to give a way to describe the architecture.
> Love this!

> My hopefully constructive input though... I think you ought to be
> easier on folks who don't use fancy graphics editors :)
That's the first time I have heard LaTeX being called a fancy graphics editor ;-)

> I (and the folks I work with) tend to use Google presentations to put
> together visual diagrams. It's quite a handy program. Unfortunately
> you can't do a few things that you require:
> - Squiggly lines
> - Double lines
> But you can do:
> - Lots of different line endings (circles, squares, triangles)
> - Dashed lines
> - Dash-dotted lines
> - Thick and thin lines
> Unless you have a religious point of view when it comes to squiggles
> (I hear this is a thing) I'd recommend tweaking the symbols to widen
> the tent for drawing tools :)
I'm not religious about squiggles, but I had a reason for using squiggles for message
I want to encourage using module APIs to send messages around. It is rare that you
need to send messages directly, so the symbol for that should stand out and the easy
straight line be used for calling an API function.

But I am very open to finding ways to make this distinction come out, so perhaps one
could use dashed lines for message passing?

Another criteria is that it should be easy to write the Visual Erlang diagrams on a
whiteboard. I find squiggles easier than dashed lines, but that could be my
preference - dashed lines are not impossible.
Thick and thin lines are really hard on a whiteboard.

I will ponder a bit over this in conjunction with some of the other feedback, so
please follow this thread!

> I also recommend putting together some PNGs and including them as
> images in the README so people can see what's going on at a glance
> from the github page without downloading the PDF. But this a nice to
> have.
I didn't know that one could include PNGs in the README on github - do you have an
example of how this is done?
Very cool idea!

> Can't wait for the Patterns In Erlang book! (But who's in the GoF?)
So far it is only a dynamic duo: Jesper and me.

Gang of anything sounds so last century - need to find something cooler. Dynamic duo
also has an oldish feel to it, mind you ;-)

We will start with getting Erlang patterns documented - if it turns into something
that people want in book form it might happen.

Thanks for the feedback!

> Garrett

Torben Hoffmann
Erlang Solutions Ltd.
Tel: +45 25 14 05 38

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