by aestetix

What is erlang (and why should I care?)

Erlang is a programming language developed by Ericsson to run on phone switches, released as open source in 1998. To quote the wikipedia page, "it was designed by Ericsson to support distributed, fault-tolerant, soft-real-time, non-stop applications. It supports hot swapping so code can be changed without stopping a system."

It allows the programmer to quickly and easily spawn new processes which can talk to each other, but which do not affect each other. For example, if I am a company that wants to support multiple phone calls, and a person is on a phone call, someone else who calls them will get a response saying either "x is busy" or "x is busy, would you like to leave a message?". If this second call terminates, or "crashes" for some reason, it will not affect the first call. The Erlang Movie covers this in more detail.

As a lot of chat-based and interactive web applications surface on the net, fault tolerance is a huge deal, and erlang is providing a good fix. We may see a lot more emphasis on erlang in the near future.


Read more of   The Yak's Frequently Questioned Answers   (mod.2010-02-10)

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