[erlang-questions] Ways to get started

Joe Armstrong erlang@REDACTED
Mon Jul 11 22:49:29 CEST 2011

I'm old school - you don't need any fancy tools. Just a text
edit and an erlang shell.

Open your text editor:

Type in the following program.

     start() -> "hello world".

store it in a file called hello.erl

Start and erlang shell. It will say ">"
Type in two commands:

> c(hello).
> hello:start().

The first command compiles the program. The second evaluates
the command hello:start()

Thats all it takes - typing three lines of code into a file
with a text editor - then typing two lines into the shell.

That's all it takes. 95% of all the fun can be achieved with a simple
text editor and the erlang shell. That's how most of the erlang system
was implemented.

The erlang shell can be installed in zillions of ways - compile the
sources or apt-get install it (or whatever)

Forget about git/IDEs/rebar etc.

Use this approach for all languages.

IDEs and build tools are the single biggest obstacle I know
of to getting started.

Me I use

  - a shell
  - makefiles
  - emacs

for all know programming languages under the sun.

98% of all the fun can be had with the compiler alone - all the rest
is hype.

Forget about the tools -

Tools like rebar etc are under to automate something but if you don't
know what it is that you are automating and if the tool doesn't work
you will just end up being incredible confused.

Then buy a decent book and type in the programs by hand.
One at a time thinking as you go.

After 30 years you will get the hang of this and be a good programmer.

Tools are no substitute for typing in small programs and
understanding exactly how they work. This is true for all programming
language. Programming is an art form, there is no easy way.
Like playing the violin - is there an easy way of playing the violin other
than by practising for thousands of hours? I think not.

Start with one liners in the shell,  start the shell:

> A = 1


> A = 2

ask what happens and why.

There is no quick way to learn programming - no tool will help.

Your brain is a zillion times better than the best IDE. programs
form in you brain not in an IDE.

But then I'm old school.

Have fun - if it's not fun it is pointless - don't fight the tools
all you need is a text editor and the erlang shell to start with.


On Mon, Jul 11, 2011 at 10:27 PM, Mihai Balea <mihai@REDACTED> wrote:
> On Jul 11, 2011, at 2:13 PM, Garrett Smith wrote:
> I'd be curious to know what editor/IDE/toolset people use other than
> Emacs. Catch is, you have to be overall happy with it :)
> I use Text Mate, it's fast and there's a decent Erlang bundle available.
> CLI for building and everything else.
> Use a system package (e.g. aptitude, yum, pacman) or a mainstream
> installer. I wouldn't mess with compiling from scratch, much less
> getting source from github.
> I always build from the official sources. It's quite easy, basically just
> configure, make, sudo make install
> Distro packages tend to be outdated, Mac packagers as well.
> Mihai
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