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Ask HN: Should I learn Erlang?
14 points by alistproducer2 38 days ago | hide | past | web | 8 comments | favorite
There's a cryptocurrency project I'm considering contributing to that's written in Erlang. I'm curious about Erlang's usefulness in other contexts. Is it a language that can open doors for you (job-wise)?



There are plenty of companies using erlang in production. The community is relatively small and almost everyone knows each other. Yes, you can find erlang jobs or elixir jobs - a lot of those these days (PM me if you are looking)

Besides, erlang definitely gives you new perspective in building large scale system; supervision tree (let it crash), the actor concept, message passing, preemptive vm, built-in distributed erlang nodes, the repl, hot code swapping - any much more

The power comes from the whole ecosystem. Concurrency is built from ground up on language & vm level.


> Besides, erlang definitely gives you new perspective in building large scale system; supervision tree (let it crash), the actor concept, message passing, preemptive vm, built-in distributed erlang nodes, the repl, hot code swapping - any much more

Can't emphasize this enough. Programming in Erlang will enable you to build novel mental models, useful beyond Erlang/Elixir.

Moreover, Erlang is a small language, and once you get past the unusual syntax, pretty easy to learn.

I work on a large scale production system in Erlang on a day to day basis; feel free to email me if I can be helpful in any way.


Thanks for this comment. you've given me several things to Google :)


Erlang itself is pretty hard to find work in, though not impossible.

That said, it's an interesting platform that is a lot of fun, and its concepts can be applied to a lot of different platforms. Its inherent "treat everything as a self-contained service" turns out to be a fairly useful way to structure applications.


There are not many Erlangs jobs, but as only the more determined developers bother to learn it, you can expect better qualified co-workers in an Erlang shop compared to an average/popular language shop. (Generally true with other niche languages too.) So, once you find an Erlang job chances are good that you will like it. Also it as a language to beat the averages TODAY. http://paulgraham.com/avg.html


Honestly, once you learn 5 or 6 languages, picking up a new one (not as a deep expert, but enough to functionally contribute to an open source project) takes only a day or so.

If you are not there yet, take every opportunity to learn a new language, doesn't really matter which as long as you have a good breadth (e.g. don't do entirely functional languages).


> Honestly, once you learn 5 or 6 languages, picking up a new one (not as a deep expert, but enough to functionally contribute to an open source project) takes only a day or so.

I think this really depends on some of those 5 or 6 languages being similar to the new one. If I know C, C++, Python, Java, Perl and C#, I'm not going to walk right into Prolog or SML or Scheme. (Your second paragraph is related to this, I just wanted to call it out a little clearer.)


This depends on if you are learning a new programming language, or a new paradigm. Many languages share paradigms (the core concepts of OOP are the same in all major high level languages, for example) and only differ in syntax. It's easy to bounce between those languages.

But some languages require totally new ways of thinking, and you're not going to learn that in a day if you haven't been exposed to it before. In fact, I would even say this line of thinking -- "I can learn it in a day" -- can be dangerous by causing you to ignore the idiosyncrasies of the new language, causing bugs you don't understand the root cause of. This is a problem you commonly see when experienced programmers start coding Javascript without reading about prototypes, closures, etc.




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