[erlang-questions] JSON for STDLIB

Jesper Louis Andersen jesper.louis.andersen@REDACTED
Tue Sep 8 11:42:00 CEST 2015

On Mon, Sep 7, 2015 at 3:34 AM, Theepan <vasdeveloper@REDACTED> wrote:

> Since Erlang is now widely used in internet domain, I believe that
> inclusion of JSON library under STDLIB is essential. There are many open
> source variants, but I like Jiffy and Jsx. They support MAPS too.

Roughly, two variants of programming language standard libraries exist,
where most languages sit somewhere on the continuum of these extreme points:

1. Put as little as possible in the standard library. Usually only put the
things necessary to write the compiler itself, and the libraries which are
impossible to write without close support from the compiler/runtime.

2. Use the Stdlib to "bless" certain implementations of commonly used
libraries as the default. The Stdlib is considerably larger, but is
guaranteed to have seen lots of testing.

It is not a priori clear one solution beats the other. There are advantages
and disadvantages to both models. Personally I lean toward option 1,
because I "come from" languages which used this model: Standard ML and
OCaml. The danger of such a model however is that you end up with many
stdlib implementations, and in statically typed languages you often end up
in situations where packages built for one stdlib are not compatible with
the other stdlib.

This makes people yearn for option 2. But it is not without its
consequences either. Work on the stdlib is now centered around a few
people, so it will invariably move slower. The other problem is that
updates to the stdlib is now locked to the update rate of the compiler.
This is rarely desirable. And when new releases come out, everyone has to
scramble in order to upgrade everything in the stdlib they rely on. In a
more compartamentalized world, you can go update packages separately.

JSON is particularly nasty because different characteristics are mandated
by different users. Some want fast JSON parsing. Some want correct JSON
parsing. Some want mapping rules into their Erlang world. For this reason,
there are always many disparate JSON libraries in any language (C has at
least 10, Java has at least 20). You *can* pick one and put into the
stdlib, but people still have to build their own to their wants.

In my opinion, there are far too many libraries in the standard Erlang/OTP
distribution. This means more work on the Ericsson Erlang/OTP team and we
can't mint a new fix package for a separate area without rolling a new
point release for Erlang/OTP. Moving some things into separate repositories
would help a lot. But it also requires some work on package management so
the transition is as seamless as possible.

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