Erlang killer app?

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Erlang killer app?

Chris Pressey
On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 16:21:04 -0700
"Alex Peake" <apeake> wrote:

> Well, since you ask for a poll --
>
> I work on eCommerce systems.

I can chip in a bit here, since I've always thought of myself as far
outside of telecomm.

My main interest is in language design.  At my day job I work in the
retail/wholesale building materials industry (custom programmer - not much
more than a glorified DB admin.)

Distributed systems aren't critical to my job, but I feel they can really
help to get information from one person to another in an event-driven
fashion.  My big Erlang project at work is a program which interfaces with
the legacy point-of-sale system to track the status of orders and display
this information to users in real-time.

I don't really believe in killer apps... the next big thing is a myth.
I'd rather make a living than make a killing  :)

But an enterprise resource planning / accounting / point-of-sale
application written in Erlang could be a very remarkable thing.  Partly
because of the inherent distribution of the problem, partly because Mnesia
is such a well designed database system (in terms of flexibility - being
able to store arbitrary structures and lambda functions in database record
fields, for example.  The data does not have to be entirely normalized,
and I think this is wonderful - coming up with the 'right' schema in most
database engines is a pain, I find.)

I think many people who are interested in distributed programming are
aware of Erlang - but they actually shun it - and I have no idea why.
Perhaps it's because functional languages are "supposed" to have strong
typing.  Perhaps it's because distributed systems are "supposed" to be for
efficiency in massively parallel supercomputing problems.  I'm not sure.

But to me, Erlang is so nice, even if it didn't have distribution or even
message passing, I'd still use it for general-purpose programming,
scripting and so forth.  Of all the high-level languages I've used, Erlang
reminds me the most of Lego, and Lego was my favourite toy as a child.
(In comparison, Haskell and Java remind me of bricks and mortar, and Perl
and Python remind me of papier-mache' :)

Outside of my job, I've always been interested in the potential of Erlang
for online games (like MUDs.)  Does this count as groupware?  Not the
serious, productive kind of course :)

-Chris


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Online games in Erlang (was "Erlang killer app?")

Thierry Mallard-2
On Sat, Jul 20, 2002 at 03:44:27PM -0500, Chris Pressey wrote:
> [ talking about an Erlang killer app ]
> [...]
> Outside of my job, I've always been interested in the potential of Erlang
> for online games (like MUDs.)  Does this count as groupware?  Not the
> serious, productive kind of course :)

I've tried to implement some server side application for an open source
MMORPG, named WorldForge[1].

My main goals were :
1/ to practise Erlang
2/ to see if Erlang would be a good langage to achieve a MMORPG server,
for the development point of view
3/ same thing, but for the application point of view (speed, for
instance)

Although I never tried to quantify those points, the results I could
feel were the following :

- I was almost alone in this quest.. the WorldForge team was working on
  a C++ implementation of STAGE (the WorldForge server), and was never
  really interested in the Erlang version. Mostly because they don't
  know this language, of course..

- Coding the Erlang implementation of STAGE (cunningly called ErlyStage)
  was fast indeed. In about 3 months, Mickael and I were about the same
  point as they (the C++ team, 3 people) were after a year of
  development.

- ErlyStage featured some new things that are very difficult to
  implement in C++ : the classical hot-upgrade and application
  distributions.

- The difficults parts : keep a persistant world in memory.. I'm really
  not sure that Mnesia can do that. And worst of all, I think : the
  server should do more and more operations on those "entities" (any
  object of the world). But, to be honest, I'm not an expert Erlang
  programer, so maybe those "gotchas" aren't really ones..


Looking at that experience after a year has passed, I would say that I
feel like Erlang forms "brains for cells" (for sales ? ;-) ). It's very
good at putting together other technologies (an external database, via
ODBC, a 3D engine or middleware -see Wings3D-, etc). But I definitly
think that we can't (and _shouldn't_) try to do everything in Erlang.

The "brains", that Erlang provides, help all those parts works together,
with the features Francesco mentionned in his post : hot-swapping,
fault-tolerance, and so on..

Ok, enought blabbering (is that english?) for tonight  :-)

With kind regards,

--
Thierry Mallard
http://vawis.net


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Erlang killer app?

Michael Williams
In reply to this post by Ulf Wiger-4
In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0207200005080.27746-100000>,
 etxuwig (Ulf Wiger) writes:
|> I'm convinced that Erlang could be used to design some killer
|> groupware.

Lotus Notes is very popular - and expensive. I am sure that similar groupware
written in Erlang could be a great hit. And Erlang would be very suitable,
lots of concurrency and distribution in a network of machines which come and go.
/mike


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Erlang killer app?

Ulf Wiger-4
On 22 Jul 2002, Michael Williams wrote:

>In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0207200005080.27746-100000>,
> etxuwig (Ulf Wiger) writes:
>|> I'm convinced that Erlang could be used to design some killer
>|> groupware.
>
>Lotus Notes is very popular - and expensive. I am sure that
>similar groupware written in Erlang could be a great hit. And
>Erlang would be very suitable, lots of concurrency and
>distribution in a network of machines which come and go. /mike

Personally, I've thought that the product to benchmark against
would be FirstClass, which is a BBS system designed as a robust
and fast client-server architecture. When I played with it, back
in 1995-96, a Mac 950 could support 100 concurrent users, and a
sufficiently powerful Windows NT box could serve 1000. It zipped
along just fine over a 2400 bps modem line, with concurrent file
downloads with resume functionality, message history tracking,
on-line chat, database interfaces, multi-server forwarding,
lots of security options, ...

...and it was a breeze to configure and never went down.
What's more, it didn't cost more than your average PC mail
package (much less for modem users.)

I don't know how far it's progressed since then, or if there are
better systems in the Open Source world. I thought Lotus Notes
was terrible by comparison: expensive, slow, and hard to
maintain.

/Uffe
--
Ulf Wiger, Senior Specialist,
   / / /   Architecture & Design of Carrier-Class Software
  / / /    Strategic Product & System Management
 / / /     Ericsson Telecom AB, ATM Multiservice Networks



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Erlang killer app?

Michael Williams
In article <Pine.GSO.4.44.0207222353460.29964-100000>,
 etxuwig (Ulf Wiger) writes:
|> I don't know how far it's progressed since then, or if there are
|> better systems in the Open Source world. I thought Lotus Notes
|> was terrible by comparison: expensive, slow, and hard to
|> maintain.

Nevertheless, Lotus Notes is widely used despite the fact that it is expensive
"payware". There should be a niche for a cheapware/freeware alternative
written in Erlang!

/mike


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