Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why not Erlang? The answer in three words...

When I first moved to live and work in Sweden in 1995 I had two ambitions. The first was to get a job working at Ericsson. My mobile phone was an Ericsson model that I was absolutely in love with and was much better than my previous Blaupunkt and Motorola phones. I just had to work for the company that made my new teddy bear. Unfortunately things did not work out. I found myself living in cold north of Sweden where there were no Ericsson offices or factories.

Later in 2006 while looking for an embedded web server, I stumbled upon a programming language called Erlang. It seemed to have what I needed. There was a webserver built into the VM (inets) and it was super light weight. I started reading everything I could about Erlang. I never found out enough to become a good enough Erlang programmer to use inets like I would have liked. But I did find out about the YAWS webserver which suited my purposes exactly. Well not exactly. I still had one hurdle to jump, the project called for full windows support.

Microsoft Windows was and is the most popular OS in Sweden. So popular that Microsoft started a training program in the very north of Sweden where only reindeer play. The project was not going to work without windows support. This is where all my ideas fell apart. When I asked on the mailing list about Windows in any context, I got nothin'. There was no help, no encouragement ( aside from helping me learn to program with a functional language ) and no empathy. After a time I dropped Erlang and went back to PERL and the Indigo web server. The problem with Erlang was not that it was not a good language, the problem was that nothing worked in Windows. The functionality that I needed seemed to work only sometimes, if at all. Not one of the Ericsson developers or any of the students on the mailing list even wanted to try and work with the Windows operative system.

So my journey with Erlang started with three words "I love you" and ended tragically with "No windows support".

When I take a look at how Erlang products like CouchDB have come into the light recently and then slowly been overtaken by C/C++ language implementations of the same ideas like MongoDB. I know the reason is because those new players strive for Windows support. They use C/C++ because it give them more in the way of supporting flexibility and changes across the greatest number of platforms. Hence growth and popularity something which is the greatest weak point of products created with Erlang.

Today I would like to change this Erlang weakness into a strength. I want to use some social media akido on the Erlang community to try and rid it of another three words "No community support" of windows. What I want is for those that use Windows and develop websites and applications, no matter how large or small, to join Start asking questions about Windows platforms even if they are not answered or go ignored. After sometime I am sure that Ericsson and Erlang developers will get the idea and start moving towards Windows support in the VM, the language and in their minds.