Some claims about Erlang (was Re: Erlang use in Italy)

Charles Blair chas@REDACTED
Tue Apr 12 04:47:07 CEST 2005

> > "Who is teaching Erlang? All students take the
> > degree learning C, C++ 
> > and Java. This is what companies require" 

> His students will likely be the interchangeable commodity building
> blocks that parts of the industry desire. Bah humbug.

we have been in the position of having to interview scores of such
people during the past six years or so. unless one is in those parts
of the industry where the programmer is intended to be a commodity, as
opposed to someone who is expected to have some degree of investment
in the enterprise, most of these "cookie-cutter degrees" (as my lead
programmer/analyst calls them) are worthless: we don't need people
with no experience who've learnt how to program yet another shopping
cart application in java. (we have hired inexperienced people with CS
degrees, but they had other things going for them. one was a graduate
of Beijing University: if you get that far in a country of a billion
people, we're going to take notice. another was a 19-year old graduate
of Trinity College, Dublin: if you get that far that young, we're also
going to take notice. a third was a Ph.D. with a programming
certificate; again, if you're that motivated to make a mid-life career
change, we'll give you a good look.)

in my (university) position, some of the people most able to build the
applications we need are kids, some of whom haven't even graduated
from college yet, with php, mysql, apache and (increasingly) flash
skills. these are very smart generalists, not specialists, with a good
grasp of the problem domain, which motivates them, because they know,
understand, like and respect it, and they'll work for what we can pay
them: we can't afford to compete with industry for experienced java

my hope is that the erlang community keeps working on its software
"ensemble" (erlang + yaws + (d)ets/mnesia), so that it remains a
viable alternative to php + apache + mysql (the "AMP" in "LAMP").[1]
either of these right now is a viable alternative for what i need to
do, as opposed to the badly bloated java servlet alternative (with,
increasingly, an XML component thrown in), which simply adds
superfluous overhead (machine and human) to a project. (we are running
these as well.)

[1] we have used perl and python, and have a major production
application programmed in Tcl. we have important utilities written in
OCaml, Tcl and Common Lisp, and a server written in erlang + yaws.

Charles Blair           Co-Director, Digital Library Development Center
773-702-8459		University of Chicago Library

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