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Great, But Weird And Slow

Damien Katz is the soft-spoken Couchbase CTO and creator of the Apache CouchDB (written in Erlang and C/C++). In this InfoQ presentation, “Erlang, the Language from the Future?“, Damien praises the Erlang programming language. But he also points out its turds: weirdness and slowness.

Damien says that Erlang’s weird Prolog-like syntax prevents massive adoption; which prevents lack of massive investment; which prevents massive VM performance improvement.

To prove his point, Mr. Katz uses Java as an example of “getting it right“. When Java arrived on the scene in the mid-90’s, it was dirt slow compared to C and C++. But because Java’s syntax was C-like and it didn’t suffer from the frustrating quirks and gotchas of C/C++, it was embraced quickly and massively by the software industry. This lead to massive investment, which lead to large JVM performance increases and a boatload of productivity-enhancing development tools.

I like Erlang a lot for the concurrent, distributed type of software I write. However, Damian hits the nail right on the head. What do you think?

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