Friday, 25 December 2009

Learing Erlang

I've been learning Erlang on and off for a while and I still can't believe how high the bar to entry is to create something relatively simple.  By this I mean that I mean the large amount of new skills and tools that I need to be familiar with before I even get coding.  I'm not talking about the language itself here as I understand that a learning my first functional language isn't going to be an easy switch as it would be for C# to Java or vice versa.

I've run into two hurdles before tonight which has slowed me down and one just now which has compelled me to write about it.  Number one is a bug in eunit (a bug in a unit testing framework!!!), this really had me stumped for a while.  I believed I was working from a copy that I checked out from the eunit SVN repository and dutifully went through the code:add_path motions to update the repo to get the bug fix.  However eunit is actually part of the core libraries so I had to apply the given patch to the erlang distribution, in the end downloading the newest Erlang fixed the problem. 

All through development I've had a problem automating the compilation of my code, going down a dead end path with erlangantlib then make not being able to interpret the eunit make file when I was tinkering with it as above.  This was all crappy and gave me a bad feeling but this is all part of getting to know the language that doesn't have IBM, Sun or Microsoft backing it.  Mores the pity.

The final bullet was the debugger not being able to start and giving an erl.exe has encountered a problem message.  I know why because the excuse is in the Erlang Programming book, the tools in Erlang to my knowledge are all built using the TCL UI toolkit which is really crap on Windows.  Cheers, this feels like a real waste of my time.  Am I really supposed to start using Linux just to work proficiently in Erlang?

I'm not going to give up on Erlang just yet, its features are still far too compelling to let go of.

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