[erlang-questions] The quest for the perfect programming language for massive concurrency.

Ulf Wiger ulf@REDACTED
Thu Jan 30 17:58:19 CET 2014

On 30 Jan 2014, at 17:19, kraythe . <kraythe@REDACTED> wrote:

> The tools are, well frankly, garbage. Sorry, in 2014 to be pushed back to coding with VIM and makefiles is primitive.
So use Emacs. ;-)

Seriously, there are a few reasons why the tools are garbage compared to e.g. the Java community’s, but here’s the main reason:

For one thing, they are not needed as much. I once participated in a code kata track, where (as it happened) the same problem was solved in several different languages. The idea was to let the audience lead, but the only ones who did that were I and the Ruby guy - and we and the Clojure guy were the only ones who completed the task on time. This, even though we stuck to Emacs and had no other fancy tools. The Java team and the C# guy ran out of time.

The Java guys - two experts, pair programming rather than involving the audience - ripped through with IntelliJ, but still didn’t finish the task on time. Still, it was amazing to see what the tool could do. Talking to some Java experts afterwards, the consensus seemed to be that “yeah, the tools are fantastic, but the problem is that you’re dead in the water without them”. Also, some complaints were raised that the tool support distances you as a developer from the raw implementation, especially when the tool automatically generates a lot of your code for you.

To some extent, this also applies to the libs question. You might well get done faster even if you end up having to do work that you wouldn’t have to in Java, since writing your own lib in Erlang can often be less work than using an existing lib in Java. ;-)

Since most Erlang programmers are quite comfortable using Emacs or Vim, it’s hard to get traction for a tool development project. There have been attempts, but overall, most (?) Erlang devs don’t feel that they need such tools to be productive.

But mostly, the things to look for are the major snags - the ones that could kill your project. How much support can you get from the respective communities for the kind of application you have in mind? How mature are the components you will have to rely on? Etc.

Depending on your application domain, the anwers to those questions are likely to vary.

Ulf W

Ulf Wiger, Co-founder & Developer Advocate, Feuerlabs Inc.

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