Erlang for Python Programmers?

I’ve been hearing about Erlang for several months now. It has seemed interesting, but up until recently I hadn’t felt any great need to look into it.

Last week, however, my interest was piqued, and I spent much of the weekend reading about Erlang and playing around in its interactive shell. That continued into this week when I decided to buy the new book.

While I’ve been sitting around waiting for the book to show up, I’ve been wondering if there’s an Erlang for Python Programmers tutorial floating around anywhere (I haven’t come across one yet). I’m thinking I might try to put something like that together. I think that will be an interesting challenge as there’s not necessarily an obvious one-to-one correspondence between the two languages.

Here’s how I initially learned about and got interested in Erlang:

These things made it easier to get beyond the yeah-that-looks-neat stage and into the ok-what-the-hell-I’ll-give-it-a-try stage:

  • It was easy to install with apt-get on Ubuntu (`sudo apt-get install erlang`)
  • It has an interactive shell (`erl`)
  • There’s good introductory documentation at erlang.org

Here’s what’s keeping me interested:

  • It’s a functional language, which makes it more interesting in some ways than learning, say, Ruby—in fact, I wouldn’t really need to learn much to start using Ruby, whereas using Erlang will require new ways of thinking about program structure (in terms of functions and processes)
  • I like the term “Concurrency Oriented Programming”
  • It’s been used to build some massive real-world systems
  • There’s a Web framework [link died]
  • It has a planet Planet Erlang [link died]
  • There’s a recent book by one of the original creators of the language
  • It seems to be hot amongst alpha geeks, and I’m a wannabe alpha geek

See erlang.org for pointers to more info.

Erlang is the first functional language I’ve really gotten into (for whatever reason), so regardless of whether I ever end up using it in the real world, the learning experience will be valuable.