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Erlang and OTP in Action Paperback – December 8, 2010
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About the Author
Martin Logan is a leading Erlang developer, a frequent conference presenter, and the primary developer of the Faxien OTP/Erlang package management system.Currently he works for Orbitz Worldwide, developing solutions for their large scale distributed service-based infrastructure. Richard Carlsson was an original member of the High-Performance Erlang groupat Uppsala University, and has contributed to many parts of the standard libraries, the Erlang compiler, runtime system, and the language itself. Eric Merrit specializes in concurrent languages and distributed systems. He's a core developer for the Erlware family of open-source products.
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One of the strange aspects about Erlang is that it eschews the use of the assignment operator. In fact, Erlang does not have an assignment operator and the = operator is a pattern matching operator. In Chapter 2, the authors comment that once you get used to the pattern matching operator you will wonder how you ever lived without it. Now as every programmer knows the assignment operator = is so fundamental to programming languages as to be almost burned into our DNA. When I first studied the pattern matching operator = I found it to be weird, contrived and unnatural. But after a a few months of Erlang it seems to be the most natural primitive operator that subsumes assignment as well as the relational operators ( == and !=). And every language that lacks it seems to be missing an essential operator. Erlang will put your brain on a different wavelength,
I initially tried to master Erlang in 2008 by reading Joe Armstrong's book but gave up after seventy five pages. I was completely new to functional programming and got bogged down in language details which were not properly explained. I looked briefly at the Ceserini book. In 2010 I started reading Erlang and OTP In Action. This is a very good book and is very well written. Bear in mind that explaining Erlang properly is not the easiest thing in the world. The authors have a lot of experience in designing Erlang systems and the expertise shows through in this book. This book has a great virtue, it is designed to provide you with the knowledge to build a real world massively concurrent Erlang application quickly. The approach is very pragmatic. Chapter 2 of the book teaches you the Erlang language. Despite being a very lucid presentation, I had to read this chapter twice very carefully. Chapter 3 to 5 leads you though the construction of a concurrent Erlang application using OTP (the Open Telecom Platform). OTP is a general behavior framework for building massive, scalable, fault tolerant, distributed Erlang applications. It is a very nice and refined piece of work. By the time you finish these first five chapters you will know Erlang and the Erlang concurrent programming paradigm. This is a fast track to specialized knowledge. The rest of the book gets into more advanced aspects of OTP. If you want to build a massive concurrent Erlang system then you should be using OTP. In summary this book is very highly recommended and the authors have to be commended for taking the time and care to craft a great book on a difficult subject.
* Joe Armstrong's book is a fantastic primer.
* Cesarini's book is indispensable, and a great reference.
... and the new Erlang and OTP in Action book is fantastic -- it fits a niche the other's don't cover: learning OTP.
Want the mystery of OTP to be no more? Pick up this book! I'm 75% of the way though it, and *extremely* happy I bought it.
Erlang is quite radically different from O-O/Imperative languages such as C# and Java, and I expected a steep learning curve, when I started reading Joe Armstrong's book Programming Erlang: Software for a Concurrent World. It is overall a good book, but some parts of Joe's book were not very clear to me even in the earlier several chapters, so I also got the O'Reilly Erlang book Erlang Programming. It was a bit of an easier read, but I still had some issues. . In particular, the OTP coverage in the last 2 books left me a bit perplexed. Then I got this, Logan et al's book, and started from the first chapter, and I must say I admire the authors' ability to serve up concise yet clear explanations with a more practical tone and real world examples. Now all makes sense, both OTP and Erlang, in just a few days! Chapter 2 was a quick but great introduction to Erlang programming. And the OTP and tool introduction chapters have been even better. This is the book to get if you intend to use Erlang for real-world production applications as opposed to a passing 'academic interest'.
Now if you will indulge me in straying a bit beyond the review of this book: Having sampled Erlang/OTP and its suite of related tools and utilities such as Mnesia, Ejabberd XMPP server with EXMPP library, Mochiweb and YAWS web servers, etc. (the LYME platform); I think they constitute a great (imhop and dare i say - probably the best) platform for developing robust, world class application systems quickly and with less hassle. Many people eulogise about their performance, scalability, concurrency, distribution, fault-tolerance and integration advantages; but for me personally it is more about the overriding productivity advantages as all these architectural attributes are obtainable with lots of difficulty, time and cost on other platforms such as Java EE, LAMP and .NET. When a large portion of a development platform can be so well covered in under 400 pages, it surely must be not just the book authors' ability but more the platform's own compactness and expressive power. Try that for .NET or Java EE!!
But, then you ask yourself, with all the evidence, why has the open source LYME stack not taken the development world by storm after two or so decades of existence, given how costly, difficult and failure-prone development projects are? In particular, it would seem to be the likeliest choice for 1-man and small development teams and software entrepreneurs, with resource and time-to-market constraints. And you realise there is quite a steep entry barrier due to its functional and unusual nature and relative lack of literature. I think this concise, but excellent book will facilitate entry by the average programmer and finally a larger cross section of the software development community can leverage the power and productivity advantages of the awesome LYME. Sounds like I gulped down the Erlang koolade? Well, do yourself a favour and get this book and see for yourself or try out Ejabberd, CouchDB and other noSQL databases YAWS, etc.; compare them to better known alternatives and see for yourself.
Finally, if you're like me now entering Erlang/OTP, please do yourself another favour and additionally read Mitchell Hashimoto's Erlang blog articles series, on OTP which greatly complement this book in covering aspects of OTP that Logan, et al have not prioritised for coverage, but rather refer the reader to the online Erlang documentation.
Most recent customer reviews
Once you have a basic understanding of the Erlang Language (see Joe Armstrong's book), this is your next step.Read more
This book turned my previous bad experience into a big wow!Read more