[erlang-questions] trouble with erlang or erlang is a ghetto

Richard O'Keefe ok@REDACTED
Thu Jul 28 02:01:28 CEST 2011

On 27/07/2011, at 6:08 PM, Michael Truog wrote:
> Not even the standard library is perfect.  I have yet to hear of a perfect standard library in any language.  I think having problems with a standard library is a natural problem because the people that write the standard library impose a taxonomy on functionality that not everyone shares naturally, because we are not psychic.  Learning the standard library just seems like a natural process in computer science when you get to relate a standard library to the others you had the misfortune to use in the past.  Why bother complaining about a taxonomy that is just as bad as any other?  If it serves the purpose it was designed for well, then there is no reason to care, it just happens to be different from what you might expect based on your own limited knowledge.

Let me offer a two-fold contrast with Eiffel here.

When Betrand Meyer designed Eiffel, he didn't just design a language,
he designed a *consistent* naming convention to be applied across
*all* library classes.  From time to time this got revised, but it
did mean that there was a *documented* convention: once you had learned
the names for one class, you knew a great deal about what the names in
another class meant.

I tried to follow a similar policy in the Quintus Prolog library.

That's the kind of "inconsistency" people talk about when they criticise
the Erlang/OTP libraries: same name for different things, different names
for same things.

That's the contrast that makes Eiffel look good and Erlang look bad.

Now for the other contrast.

The Eiffel libraries were proprietary, so other Eiffel implementors
had to come up with others.  Eventually the N.I.C.E. came up with a
common but minimal library.  Oy was it minimal!  The nearest thing
there was to a _useful_ Eiffel library was the GOBO library, and one
of the Eiffel implementations (as it happened, the one I used) changed
too much for the GOBO maintainer to keep up (or me; I stopped using

The *coverage* of a library can be more important than its *consistency*.
And to be honest, I think coverage is going to drive Erlang/OTP library
development more than consistency is.  If someone wants to use SCTP, it
is probably more important to them to have a finished SCTP module they
can use now than to have a beautiful module they might be able to use
next year, maybe.

It might be interesting to run some sort of poll to see what currently
unsupported areas people care about most, particularly the people who
would say "I'd like to use Eiffel but I cannot because it does not
have library support for <whatever>."

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