[erlang-questions] Erlang as a tool for human communication -- was GUI development

Richard Carlsson carlsson.richard@REDACTED
Mon Dec 25 14:18:48 CET 2017

Hello Lloyd! Just to clarify - my role has mainly been to clean up the
repository a bit, get permission from all authors to slap an MIT license on
it, and put the latest version on github as a point of reference for
others. Previously, you could only find the original version as a tarball
from Joe's web page. The road map etc. is not my writing, but probably
mostly Joe's. Klarna is not using erlguten anymore (as of last year, we
migrated the last uses to an external service), but it certainly had a good
run - 12 years of heavy industrial use.


2017-12-22 7:03 GMT+01:00 Lloyd R. Prentice <lloyd@REDACTED>:

> Hello,
> This is a think piece that may run longer than prudent for this forum. But
> if not here, then where? It is motivated by the recent thread re: GUI
> development and various other threads re: Erlang documentation. It asks
> serious questions that may or may not be worthy of reflection and
> discussion across the Erlang community.
> Here's a little about me, not to toot my horn, but to clarify where I'm
> coming from.
> I've been striving to become reasonably proficient in Erlang for nearly
> four years now. I come with experience in software development, but in no
> way consider myself a professional programmer. My undergraduate education
> is in English language/liberal arts with a focus on creative writing;
> communication and national development was my focus in grad school. I was
> for seven years on the full-time faculty at Boston University's School for
> Public Communication. I was founding editor/publisher of Classroom Computer
> News, one of the first magazines focused on personal computers in the K-12
> classroom. My company. Prentice Associates Incorporated developed more than
> 100 shrink-wrapped educational/consumer software products for leading U.S.
> publishers. My company also developed a major web application for marketing
> and managing world-class IT conferences Among other things, I write
> fiction; have three novels in print.  I could go on, but you get the
> picture.
> I come to Erlang with a vision of a web community devoted to helping indie
> authors/publishers write and market better books. I was attracted by the
> reliability/scalability promise of Erlang. But it's been a hard slog
> learning Erlang and bringing my vision to fruition, taking far longer than
> I would have hoped, leavened only by the generous help from many members of
> this community.
> At this point, my understanding is that Erlang is a terrific language for
> distributed back-end systems and, to some extent, scalable web
> applications. But my sense is that the Erlang community is smaller than the
> merits of the language deserves, has an aging community and, rather than
> organic growth, seems to be fragmenting into a cluster of BEAM languages
> that don't, from what I've seen, bring much vitality back to Erlang OTP.
> The question I've asked myself over recent months is, "Why doesn't Erlang
> have more libraries supporting human communication with the same
> effectiveness with which it supports machine-to-machine communication?"
> The recent thread GUI development thread is Exhibit Number One.
> The various stalemated Erlang-questions threads on Erlang documentation is
> Exhibit Number Two.
> Loïc Hoguin has done some nice work on documentation tools. I do wish they
> were more widely used and, themselves, better documented.
> This makes me wonder why we don't eat our own dog food, that is, develop
> and adopt standardized documentation tools written in Erlang and fluent
> across all media?
> Wings3D is, from what I've read, an effective 3D CAD system. But I don't
> hear much about it or see how it's libraries or components are of value to
> the Erlang community. Perhaps there are hidden jewels in the Wings3D code
> that could support GUI development.
> Joe Armstrong has been experimenting with music production. I love to see
> more documentation of his work. Can his work be extended to broader audio
> applications?
> A few folks have been working with video streaming. Wouldn't it be great
> to see tutorials and well-documented open source libraries and tools.
> Erlang Nitrogen goes a long way toward easing the pains of web
> development. But it could go much further with broader support. These days,
> poor Jesse Gumm is just about it.
> I'm not sure what's going on with Chicago Boss. That seems to be on
> Jesse's shoulders as well.
> The content management framework Zotonic is terrific in every dimension.
> But you have to move out of Erlang and to hop across several syntactic
> boundaries to use it. Mark Worrell has been talking for some time about
> "Elastic Zotonic," e.g. distributed Zotonic. Is he thinking Riak? I don't
> know, but wouldn't that be cool.
> I've been pulling my hair out over the past year trying to bend erlguten,
> the not-well-documented six-year-old library for generating PDF documents,
> to my needs. It's a gem in the rough that could provide the basis for a
> powerful suite of print and digital media production tools.
> Just today I learned that erlguten has been maintained and in production
> at Klarna and that within the past year Richard Carlsson has released a
> MIT-licensed "canonical" version on GitHub. Yippee!
> https://github.com/richcarl/erlguten
> Richard's road map is dead congruent with what I've been trying to
> accomplish in support of Writersglen, the project that has absorbed my
> nearly every waking thought over the past half decade.
> Many of the things that I want to do in Writersglen could be accomplished
> in other languages and with tools and applications written in those
> languages. But I want to work in Erlang. I don't see any technical
> obstacles to building better human communication libraries and tools in
> Erlang. Selfishly, I don't have enough years ahead to learn other
> languages. I want to build my web community. I want to build it in Erlang.
> And I wish I'd been able to launch it two years ago.
> But beyond my own interests, my hypothesis is this: With more
> well-documented and polished open source libraries and applications focused
> on human communication, Erlang would attract a wider, more diverse,
> population of programmers and developers. This, in turn, would result in a
> more vibrant community and wider adoption of Erlang.
> Am I wrong?
> If not, what can we do to make it happen?
> Perhaps the problem is that we don't have an appropriate venue or forum
> for sharing ideas.
> All the best and happy holidays,
> Lloyd
> Sent from my iPad
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