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Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World 1st Edition

35 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1934356005
ISBN-10: 193435600X
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (July 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193435600X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934356005
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Seth H. Ladd on August 8, 2007
Format: Paperback
There aren't a lot of Erlang books out there, so if you want to learn Erlang, you need this book.

However, I found the writing style a bit preachy. The organization of the book needs work, as the author is constantly referring to topics he hasn't covered yet. I also found that the index needs a lot of work, as it's missing quite a few topics that I know are in the book. The API reference also is missing some functions, which I thought was odd.

This book does a good job in promoting Erlang's ability to do concurrency well. I was hoping to get more functional programming style and mind set from the book, though.

All in all a good book to have if you want Erlang, but you'll need more if you want to really dive into functional programming or if you want a complete Erlang reference.
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43 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Paul Mineiro on July 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
The computer language Erlang is mature and impressive, with primitives for concurrent, fault-tolerant, and distributed programming that make it a natural for internet applications. So why isn't Erlang more popular in America? The lack of recent accessible introductions in English is probably one reason.

This book fills that void. If you've been wondering what Erlang is about, you need to get this book. It's very readable and does not require any prior experience with functional languages to make headway. It's packed with examples and the book encourages experimenting with them; in fact the first chapter explains how to get an installation of Erlang.

My one complaint is that some areas are omitted or only lightly treated, for instance mnesia and parse transformations. However there is extensive documentation on the internet available for these and other advanced Erlang features. This book will get you to journeyman level and allow you to leverage those online resources.

Even if you never plan to use Erlang, you should read this book, since Joe Armstrong's wisdom on how to build fault-tolerant software is sprinkled throughout (of course, why implement half of Erlang in a bug-ridden fashion in some other language, when you can get the real thing).
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful By J. Pease on January 30, 2008
Format: Paperback
Erlang really appears to be an interesting language, and the author's enthusiasm for the subject shows - which is good. It helped me to keep going, when at times the code was a little hard to follow.

The book does a good job of introducing the language. In particular later chapters give emphasis to the topics of concurrency through multiple processes, multi-cores and distributed programs. All very timely subjects for a world that is connected to the Internet, and where even laptops have multi-core processors

I gave the book a 4 star rating because I feel the author somewhat forgot who his audience is.

On page 5 he starts out with a description that fit me almost perfectly, and probably many other readers: "Once upon a time a programmer came across a book describing a funny programming language. It had an unfamiliar syntax [...] it wasn't even object-oriented. The programs were, well, different....Not only were the programs different, but the whole approach to programming was different."

After reading the book I don't feel like the "Erlang Master" that the road map described (pg 9). While the syntax is now familiar, I still look at the Erlang code and it feels foreign. I still have to "decipher" the code instead of read it.

I would have liked the book to more fully address the items from the "Once upon a time" paragraphs. Being that "the whole approach to programming" is different than the OO that many readers are used to, I would have liked to have seen a chapter (or three) on how to best get into that mode of thinking.

I do think the book is a good jumping off point. It gives you more than enough to get started.

However, if you are unfamiliar with languages where functions accept functions which also accept functions as parameters and return another function as a result, you may end up feeling (as I did) that you only have half the puzzle.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Christian J. Convey on March 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
I've been working through this book and am very glad for it. I'm not sure how else I'd efficiently have gotten up to speed on Erlang.

The book does need lots of minor work, though - it still feels like a beta piece of software. There are examples / explanations that make use of not-yet (or never) explained functions/modules. The appendix describing some of Erlang's modules only claims that the set of documented modules is incomplete, but doesn't mention that the set of functions within some modules is also incomplete. Etc.

Another issue is the license of the code examples. The author shows some example code for how to do certain things, such as a distributed map function (pmap). After reading the book, it's hard (at least for a newbie) to imagine a different solution than the author's. But if you go to the website containing the example code from the book, you find a pretty restrictive license on the example code. So this leaves the reader in a difficult position: the book only shows you one way to do something like pmap, and the author has a license on that code that makes it unusable to many readers. This is more than a little frustrating.

Finally, the index is very incomplete.

If you're new to Erlang you still want this book. But it would really be a good thing for the author to gather criticism (if he hasn't already) and go a second round.
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