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Erlang Users of Arlington/DC Message Board › Erlang Greetings

Erlang Greetings

Rusty K.
RustyKlophaus
Alexandria, VA
Hi Dan, Dan, Eli, and Kamau,

Welcome! Here's what I know about you:

- You are interested in programming, so you are probably quite intelligent.
- You are interested in Erlang, so you are a technology pioneer.

Based on these two things, I imagine that this is going to be a high caliber group. I'm excited to hear about what pulled you to Erlang, and I'm happy to offer any help that I can. I'm looking forward to hearing about pet projects, and I'm curious to see if there is anyone using Erlang professionally.

Finally, I'm holding out an unrealistic hope that Joe Armstrong himself will be strolling down Wilson and duck his head into the meeting. Dare to dream.

Looking forward to next Wednesday.

Best,
Rusty
Eli L.
user 8058573
Washington, DC
Post #: 1
Hi Dan, Dan, Eli, and Kamau,

Welcome! Here's what I know about you:

- You are interested in programming, so you are probably quite intelligent.
- You are interested in Erlang, so you are a technology pioneer.

Based on these two things, I imagine that this is going to be a high caliber group. I'm excited to hear about what pulled you to Erlang, and I'm happy to offer any help that I can. I'm looking forward to hearing about pet projects, and I'm curious to see if there is anyone using Erlang professionally.

Finally, I'm holding out an unrealistic hope that Joe Armstrong himself will be strolling down Wilson and duck his head into the meeting. Dare to dream.

Looking forward to next Wednesday.

Best,
Rusty

Years ago, I saw Erlang for the first time, when I was playing around with Haskell. A friend who introduced me to Haskell told me that functional languages were the future and if I was going to be cool, I should learn one of them, as the last language I had ever learned was C (autodidactically). So I looked at Haskell, which was cool but seemed impractical, I looked at Curry [ http://en.wikipedia.o...­) ], which seemed even cooler but even more impractical, and somehow ended up looking at Erlang. And I said, wow, what a cool language for concurrency! But since it had been twenty years since I had been anything except a manager of one kind or another, I didn't really end up learning it, though I wanted to. Well a few years passed, and somehow I ended up in a company building a network appliance. And somehow, my friend who introduced me to Erlang (further referred to as the "Haskell friend") was also in this company and even wierder, was one of the programmers working for me in this project. I looked at the application architecture and said, wow, Erlang would be perfect for the backend! So I did what I thought was the hard part, and sold sr. management on it. Cool! I turned to the programmers, including my Haskell friend and instead of adulation and praise about getting to learn to program in a cool new language, I had an employee revolt on my hands. My Haskell friend was the first to complain that we could *NOT* and must *NOT* develop this core product in Erlang! So, fast forward a year, the project was done in C++ and CORBA. Sigh. And somewhere in the process of the "struggle" over Erlang vs. C++/CORBA, my Haskell friend did end up learning so Erlang, though I, alas, never did. So a fast-forwarding some more, my Haskell friend ended up admitting that I had probably been right and they wrong. If they had bitten the bullet and programmed the backend in Erlang, maybe many of the reliability/scalability problems that had come up in the project might have been averted. Oh well, you make your bed and have to sleep in it, so we went on with what we had, which was C++ and CORBA. But then about a month ago, when neither I nor my Haskell friend were in that company any more, we talked on skype on day, and it appeared that both of us had copies of Joe's book, and both had the intention to learn Erlang, him again, and me for really the first time. He because, as a programmer, he thought he might develop something useful in it, I because, though my programming days may be past, I want a language to program toys in and these days it's just too embarrassing to say you write hobby-type programs in C. You might as well admit your first programming language was BASIC or something like that. So we've made a pact of sorts. We have a private blog with each other and blog to each other our progress in learning the language to inspire each other to finish the Erlang-learning quest. So with this little bit of my own non-history with Erlang, I should make this further frank admission: I'm still somewhere only in chapter 3 of Joe's book! Haha... And I'm trying really, really, really hard not to be too critical about the lack of stuff like implicit lazy valuation and currying in Erlang, and trying really hard not to bolt off to Concurrent Haskell [ http://en.wikipedia.o...­ ] before I finish the entirety of Joe's book (my goal!). So what is my hobby project? To implement a little library of data structures and algorithms in Erlang - heaps, trees, queues, etc. No real final project. As I said, this is my hobby!
Rusty K.
RustyKlophaus
Alexandria, VA
Post #: 2
Wow, I'm surprised that the team revolted. I guess some people are all about exploration and others aren't.

Parts of your story are similar to mine: at my last company we had this huge application spanning multiple servers. We wrote it all in C#, and all communication was either through SQL, flat files, or web services. When I left, we were moving toward Message Queues, but that effort had been going on for about a year. They were just too complicated and brittle to deal with.

When I first started learning about Erlang and saw that things like Message Queues, RMI/Remoting, and concurrency were so easy, I thought back to how many hundreds of hours we spent struggling with that stuff and just laughed. Since then I've strongly suggested to my old colleagues that they look into Erlang, but I think it's one of those things that's a really hard sell until you actually see Erlang in action.

I've worked my way through most of Joe's book, and have written and rewritten about 15k lines of good solid Erlang code, including various stuff using OTP. I'm happy to offer any help I can to make sure you stay ahead of your friend. :)

Regarding currying and other functional operations that are absent from Erlang, I'll be honest, Erlang is my first functional language so I don't really know what I'm missing.

My general impression is that Erlang is uglier than other functional languages when you look directly at the code, but way more beautiful when you focus on the macro level (division of code, flow of information, etc.). Thoughts?
Eli L.
user 8058573
Washington, DC
Post #: 2
Is this meeting sort of like an ErlLounge, or is that something different?
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