[erlang-questions] Erlang newbie questions

David Goehrig dave@REDACTED
Thu Oct 20 01:57:34 CEST 2011

One thing to think about when choosing a language is the amount of effort necessary to produce a stable system. I've recently ran an experiment where I pitted Erlang vs C/C++ in a web application stack. The results were not even close:

2 months to get a C/C++ code base running and functional, but not operationally sound (due to a buggy library from a large 3rd party). 

2 weeks to reimplement the entire application in Erlang in an operational capacity with some off the shelf parts. 

Mind you this was a project I've done 7 times before for other clients, but this was the first time using a library from the particular vendor. 

When the vendor came back with "this is a known issue will not fix", it didn't take much convincing for management that it was a developmental deadend. 

Why did Erlang take so little time to get operational?  Because all of the 3rd party code pulled in was already built by engineers who grok software engineering (and were not a bunch of PhDs from Stanford with minimal real world experience). 

While Erlang itself is not bug free, it is generally pretty well battlehardened. Engineers who spend their time investing in the language aren't swayed by popularity metrics, and few (none) have limited experience with other languages. 

If you place bets, your odds of delivering a successful product are far better than the OTP marketing hype would have you believe :)

Can you build a stable performant system in any language? sure. Can you do it cheaper than you can in Erlang?  Short of hiring slave labor, probably not. 

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