Monday, March 03, 2008

Practical Erlang Programming Mini Interview

Over on my On Erlang blog I’ve been writing about a book that O’Reilly will be publishing soon, “Practical Erlang Programming”. There’s still no official announcement, but both the editor and the authors have confirmed the book to me and have talked a bit about why they’re writing it.

Jan Henry Nystrom and Francesco Cesarini, the authors, have been kind enough to continue our discussion, and with the interest in Erlang within the Ruby community, I thought I’d post this discussion here.

One topic that a lot of people seem to be interested in is interfacing Erlang with other languages. Is this really a good idea?

Francesco Of course. You need to use the right tool for the right job. Erlang is good with server side applications, including concurrency, distribution and fault tolerance. There are, to mention but a few, instances where you need number crunching applications, layer 3 switching software, elegant graphical front-ends or client software… Then Erlang is not the right tool. Instances when we’ve interfaced Erlang to other languages in our line of work includes interfacing legacy code, third party protocol stacks and drivers.

How deeply will you be covering it?

Francesco We have a whole chapter dedicated to it, concentrating on C, Java and Ruby. It should be enough to get users started.

Henry But we will only cover the basics, and it is a topic worthy of a much larger exposure in another book. The “Hard core Erlang” book by Joel was supposed to give it much attention, which is but one of many reasons it is a pity his is not contuing the project.

Haskell has had pretty good representation at OSCon the last couple of years. Do you know if anyone submitted talks or tutorials for this year? Do you think Erlang will ever develop a presence there?

Henry I think that Erlang is one of the natural topics for OSCon. It has probably lagged a bit their since the USA is behind in the adoption of Erlang compared to Europe, a situation that I think will change dramatically over the next two years.

Francesco We submitted an Erlang tutorial proposal at OSCon, and really hope it will be accepted. I would not be at all surprised if other proposals show up, shows up as Erlang seems to be covered in all major conferences these days. Joe Armstrong is speaking at QCon in London next month, while Alexis Richardson, founder of one of the companies sponsoring RabbitMQ (An Erlang AMQP implementation) will be a track host. There will be an Erlang workshop in conjunction with ICFP in Victoria, BC in September, as well as an FP developer conference with tutorials covering most FP languages and tools, where Erlang is obviously included.

Most exciting of them all, however, is the Erlang Exchange which will take place in London the 26th and 27th of June this year. Two days filled with great Erlang presentations and tutorials. Last year, arranging something of this Magnitude anywhere other than Stockholm would not have been possible or viable.


Alex Kritikos said...

Should 'a book that O’Reilly will be publishing soon, “Practical Ruby Programming”' be 'a book that O’Reilly will be publishing soon, “Practical Erlang Programming”'?

pate said...

Alex, yes you're right. I've fixed it in the text above.