Why Erlang won’t be in the driver seat for my lifetime

I just left Erlang User Conference 2013 with a good stomach feeling. There is really a momentum flowing around the Erlang community. More products / frameworks and experiences is really getting up to the surface.

Its awesome! I love Erlang and the semantics of the language. Is basically brilliant in many ways!

So whats around the topic then Mr Ranter (as in I)?

Well Erlang have two major parts to it as I see it if we exclude the community. Its the Erlang VM (EVM) and its the Open Telecom Platform (OTP).

EVM is written in C and OTP in erlang.

And when i say Erlang i refer both of these as a unit.

Erlang is open source, but its not an open source project. And this I see as a big constraint for the future.

Erlang is being maintained by Ericsson. OH that EVM has about 4 developers and OTP has around 20.

Much of the working being put into these are in the interest of only Ericssons usecases, as in Telecom. The code is being copied over to github when a release is being made but can’t be seen as the source of truth.

I heard that the reason for this is to keep control and quality assure around the product Erlang before making releases but I personally think that that’s an assumption proven to be wrong year 2013.

Erlang systems mostly run on POSIX systems which many of these are fully open source projects which has made the priority of quality number one (thats why you see so many rants about bad patches from Linus Thorvalls :-) ).

First of all, Erlang did get many things right. But there is nothing saying that when other communities are much more fast paced they can’t copy the ideas and semantics. This is something akka has done for scala and the JVM. Everything can’t behave exactly the same of course but soon OpenJDK / JRE will be the default for java and then again the community can speed up the development around the runtime.

For instance just during the last 6 months, scala has had over 100 contributors into its language vs Erlang hasn’t even pulled of the map during 15 years into Erlang as a language.

Akka which is as an actors based extension to scala to get some of the ideas from Erlang has had around 100 as well. 

If the community can’t a bigger influence on Erlang i can’t really see how it will continue to stay in the leader position since.

It sure is now since everyone is being influenced by the decisions that was taken there. The abstractions has been shown to be very spot on.

But soon many will be at the same level of maturity and from there on only the ones being innovative will lead the future.

There is a difference between being open source and being an open source project, remember that!

You can’t submit a pull request to Erlang or the OTP as it is today. 

Disclamer: It might be that I got much of this wrong. So please provide feedback! Just thoughts popping up!

  1. ptomasroos posted this