Continuing this thread much longer -- crazy? Or just crazy?

Michael Turner leap@REDACTED
Wed Dec 30 11:03:04 CET 2009

I think we've drifted somewhat from the topic I started.  Mea culpa -- I
forked it into an IDE-for-Erlang discussion, and my subject line perhaps
lent itself to eventual flaming on almost religious topic in software
engineering, from high level methodology to the One True Editor.

Still, there have been a number of good points brought up, and I'll
probably summarize soon, perhaps writing some of you privately first to
make sure I'm not misrepresenting your point of view.  My tentative
conclusions at this point:

- Erlang as a first language is a concept that ought to be tried.

- The IDE-for-Erlang issue, if I address it at all in my tutorial
materials, might be deferred until after I've had a chance to test the
idea out on some willing subjects.

- Configuring Emacs with Erlang tool support still seems worth pursuing
and trying out on the target audience at some point relatively soon (on
the order of months).

- Eclipse looks more distant.  Perhaps because it's written in Java,
I've long felt that professional Java programmers are its de facto
target audience, even if it's nominally language-agnostic.  My target
audience isn't professional programmers at all.

Just to be sure: my idea was really to teach Erlang to cognitive
scientists and cognitive linguists, so that they could support their own
modeling efforts.  It was not to turn them into full-fledged software
engineers.  (Issues of GUI and DBMS support might be farmed out to
people writing in other languages and interfacing to the researchers'
models.)  My initial subject line didn't express this qualification
very well, but I was hoping people would read the rest of my e-mail for
context, and (lucky me) a number of you actually did.

If you'd like to continue discussion of Emacs as great/good/stupid/evil,
or about how only a poor craftsman blames his tools, or about how you
learned C++ just from reading a reference manual for it on a desert
island, then got a compiler for it running after you discovered an old
Ukrainian Ural 666 Mark II running aboard a Soviet freighter that had
run aground on the other side of the island, whose crew had long since
been rescued, your compiler being implemented by writing it out in
machine code, in tiny chalk numerals, on some blackboards in the
captain's cabin, after which you toggled it in through the front panel
... well, be my guest.  But with a new and unrelated subject line,

-michael turner

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