Is erlang too small?

Shawn Pearce spearce@REDACTED
Tue May 11 05:47:48 CEST 2004

Rudolph van Graan <rvg@REDACTED> wrote:
> It goes like this... Recently, we've been working on a number of 
> projects, two of which needed some XML and some needed http interaction 
> (using http requests). In both cases, I've run into some bugs somewhere 
> in Erlang which I just didn't want to trace, mostly because of a lack 
> of time. [snip]

You mention switching to Java.  Yet today I spent 9 hours debugging what
looks to be a bug in the Java garbage collector.  My nice, clean(*) Java
application that used a steady 20 MB of memory has now suddenly begun to
use about 5 MB per window the user opens.  And when the user closes the
window, the JVM happily keeps the memory leaked.  I spent the entire day
trying to track down who holds the final reference(s) to the object graph
to get the data cleaned up - to no avail.  What a waste of a day.  Now
I've just got to document this as a known bug and move on, we just don't
have this kind of time to waste on debugging high quality tools such
as Java.

So all day long I sat there going "*!*@#*@&*!* if this was in Erlang I
wouldn't be having this problem! @#!*!*!* Java!".

And I get home and read your skipping out of Erlang to Java because
Erlang doesn't work sometimes.  :)

(*) - Here I mean "nice, clean" as in the damn thing doesn't currently
consume 1 GB of memory to complete a simple task, but instead actually
seems to run reasonably well for about 10 minutes at a time.  Until
I added this new feature that is.

As far as the things you mentioned that need better support in Erlang
(perhaps just more documented support?), every one of these is a "core"
CPAN module.  (By "core" I mean one that is very heavily used in almost
all Perl projects eventually.)

Aside from using Perl for CGI programming on UNIX boxes back in the day,
CPAN is what made Perl Perl.  Its relatively clean DBI, LWP, XML::*,
MD5, and MIME modules were very critical to Perl's success as a language.
I'm not sure how CPAN is governed, but somehow its worked well at keeping
a nice namespace where good packages occupy the "good" names, and the
rest is kept out.

Wasn't jungerl trying to provide an CEAN (Comprenshive Erlang Archive Network)?
Its a good place to start, but I haven't even tried jungerl as its just too
much to download.  :)

I know one problem with Erlang is I just can't get a full time project
going in Erlang.  So I don't put a whole lot of effort into things I
was trying to do, like gen_serial.  :)  I suspect many people here have
similiar issues; they just can't dedicate the amount of time needed to
make good libraries for Erlang.  They get it close enough for their
needs and move on.


  I know not how I came into this, shall I call it a dying life or a
  living death?
  		-- St. Augustine

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