Erlang Now!

I don’t know whether Monty Python ever wrote a gag on programming languages, but if they did, this Erlang video must be it. The funniest thing is that it is pretty serious, and does a great job showing one of my most cherished abilities when using dynamic languages, namely, adding new functionality to a running system on the fly. As for the Monty Python bit, well, you have to see the to know what i mean: i kept laughing out loud during most of its twelve minutes (those Ericsson engineers seem to be taken from The Larch, but then maybe it’s just my sense of humor).

Update: Mike, one of the engineers in the film, has been kind enough to post a comment about the experience, which I’m reproducing here for your convenience:

We gave a well received “demo” in 1990, conjunction with ISS90, a big telecoms conference in Stockholm. We made this movie to record the demo. We actually used a professional company to do the filming, but I won’t mention their names as they would probably sue me for libel.

The worse of it all, is that we were deadly serious at the time. The Monty Python aspect must be due to our backgrounds. Of the people involved, Joe is English, Robert is Swedish – but brought up in Australia, Bjarne is also Swedish but spend some formative years in Scotland and I’m half Welsh half Scottish with some Irish thrown in somewhere.

In 1990, when we made the movie, the very idea of using anything other than C, Plex, assembly language etc to design embedded concurrent systems was heresy, we expected to take the world by storm. It seems that the cheap communication and multi core processors are giving Erlang a boost 16 years later. Well at least in the intervening time we have tested the hell out of Erlang and its implementations!

/mike

PS. If you look carefully at the film, you can see that Erlang at that time had a Prolog like syntax.

PPS. I can’t watch the movie without laughing (at) myself

While we’re at it, let me mention that i like many a thing of Erlang. It’s a curious mix of good stuff: a simple syntax and kind of minimalist flavor that reminds of Scheme, pattern matching and functional variables like Haskell’s, and what amounts to a programming paradigm of its own based on mailboxes and processes (which, as you surely know, are amazingly cheap). Also worth mentioning is Erlang’s error handling philosophy, which is, at first sight, a bit startling (i’m not still sure if it makes perfect sense, but after playing with the language a bit, it looks like it does–this is an interesting post on those matters). Definitely worth a look: see for instance Joe Armstrong‘s thesis, or, if you have some bucks to spare, the forthcoming Programming Erlang.

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17 Responses to “Erlang Now!”

  1. Cristian Says:

    Damn. It IS funny :)

  2. Ted F.A. van Gaalen Says:

    So sorry, I say!

    It is depressing. To be confronted with such a result of millions years of evolution..

    I really tried to watch this video to the end, but at 7:11 the following
    exception was trapped in my brain ( a Homo Sapiens pre ww III release adapted for relatively simple IT work, such as object oriented programming)

    Debug:
    NeuronBank #128501: CopeWith aspect: #OverTriviality.
    EmotionCoupler AttemptRecover[Mood Depressing].
    Diagn>>EmotionSupress attemptRecover: true;
    weeping: suppres.
    (Emotions sucicidal)
    ifTrue: [Emotion nihilize: 1.].
    VideoClip replaceBy: MinistryOfSillyWalks start: Asap.
    ^nil.

  3. Top Posts « WordPress.com Says:

    [...] Erlang Now! I don’t know whether Monty Python ever wrote a gag on programming languages, but if they did, this Erlang video […] [...]

  4. colson Says:

    if you like simple languages that you can modify on the fly, look into:

    io: http://www.iolanguage.com

    or

    smalltalk/squeak/seaside: http://squeak.org/

  5. Arto Bendiken Says:

    It does definitely win the grand award for the goofiest dead-serious technical video ever. But, if you know Scandinavian culture, it’s not that far off the mark ;-)

  6. Marc Abramowitz » Lisp movies Says:

    [...] I think these would be very impressive for someone who is a die-hard C/C++ coder and who hasn’t played around much with Python, Ruby, etc. They are probably less impressive to the Python and Ruby crowd or to people who have watched screencasts for Ruby on Rails, Django, TurboGears, etc. Or the campy Erlang movie. [...]

  7. Thomas_H Says:

    The movie is probably from the end 80ies/early 90ies, which contributes to the Monty Python feeling. (The picture of the bearded guy with speech bubbles shows probably Erlang’s namesake Agner Krarup Erlang). Joe Armstrong, one of the “characters”, gave a more recent, yet similar lively presentation about Erlang at the LL2 workshop in 2002:

    http://ll2.ai.mit.edu/

    (You can see how he has grayed). He is the first presenter in the morning session. If you check it out, make sure you download his slides from the Proceedings section beforehand (for the graphics).

  8. isbn.erl: My first Erlang module at Matt Croydon::Postneo 2.0 Says:

    [...] been noticing the buzz about Erlang over the past few months, but two things won me over: the Erlang video and how amazingly simple and elegant concurrency and message passing [...]

  9. User Primary » Blog Archive » Fantastic Erlang Video Says:

    [...] Check out this video about Erlang. I found it while reading Jao’s Programming Musings blog so I’ll just give the link to his post [...]

  10. Francesco Says:

    We are all happy the inventors of Erlang never gave up their day jobs for a career in acting :-)

  11. Mike Says:

    We gave a well received “demo” in 1990, conjunction with ISS90, a big telecoms conference in Stockholm. We made this movie to record the demo. We actually used a professional company to do the filming, but I won’t mention their names as they would probably sue me for libel.

    The worse of it all, is that we were deadly serious at the time. The Monty Python aspect must be due to our backgrounds. Of the people involved, Joe is English, Robert is Swedish – but brought up in Australia, Bjarne is also Swedish but spend some formative years in Scotland and I’m half Welsh half Scottish with some Irish thrown in somewhere.

    In 1990, when we made the movie, the very idea of using anything other than C, Plex, assembly language etc to design embedded concurrent systems was heresy, we expected to take the world by storm. It seems that the cheap communication and multi core processors are giving Erlang a boost 16 years later. Well at least in the intervening time we have tested the hell out of Erlang and its implementations!

    /mike

    PS. If you look carefully at the film, you can see that Erlang at that time had a Prolog like syntax.

    PPS. I can’t watch the movie without laughing (at) myself

  12. Erlang network programming at Matt Croydon::Postneo Says:

    [...] of the things that truly blew me away about Erlang (after the original Erlang Now! moment) is its bit syntax. The bit syntax as documented at erlang.org and covered in Programming [...]

  13. There is an Erlang community, it’s just smaller than you’re used to at Matt Croydon::Postneo Says:

    [...] lurking, participating, and sharing what I’ve learned in #erlang on irc.freenode.net since the Erlang movie blew my mind. I started tinkering with Erlang and the PDF for Programming Erlang came out a few [...]

  14. Erlang FTW! | www.purplecow.org Says:

    [...] This post links to an amusing video about Erlang. Man, I haven’t heard a peep about that language in quite some time. I wonder if Erlang is still in use around the telco switching industry. [...]

  15. C Turner Says:

    Your blog has an annoying aspect – I middle-clicked on the title to open a new tab. It opened a new tab but the current view also navigated away from the current page, where I had spent some time downloading the video.


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