[sf-perl] OT: New language to learn? Erlang?

Shlomi Fish shlomif at iglu.org.il
Wed May 20 13:03:51 PDT 2009

Hi Daniel!

On Wednesday 20 May 2009 19:01:41 Daniel Lo wrote:
> Hello,
> I've been snooping around for a new language to learn. While I
> superficially know a lot of languages or have studied them in the past, my
> hard core languages are Perl and Php. I have been thinking it is time to
> learn another language to my "hard core" list.
> I want to party move away from the scripting languages to diversify my
> skill set. As a final requirement, I need to be able find a job writing in
> this language.
> I've been snooping around and there appear to be 2 languages out there that
> interest me.
> "Lua" is a strong embedded language with salability and is being drafted in
> to more and more applications and games. http://www.lua.org (World of
> Warcraft, MySQL, etc...)
> "Erlang" is a strong HA/salability language that has a REALLY neat/cool
> architecture behind it. http://www.erlang.org (Telecom business, Yaws,
> etc..)
> >From what I've heard from individual friends is that Erlang the better
> > future of
> the two in terms of a job.
> I currently have a job and I have time to put into learning a new language.
> Does anyone have a language that they would like to suggest?

My 20 agoroth. I've studied Erlang during one weekend, and was impressed by 
its message passing mechanism - you can pass an object from one "process" 
(actually a thread) to another. I since then didn't really work with it, and 
forgot most of what I've learned. Someone I know said writing a 10 line script 
in Perl using Erlang took him 3 pages, back at the time it did not have a  
regular expression capability. I think a development version added it, and 
maybe it was released by now.

But in general, Erlang would be a fine choice to learn.

I started studying Lua, but studied simultaneously to Ruby, and so far been 
experimenting with Ruby mostly. For command line scripts, puzzle solvers, and 
solutions for Project Euler - not really web. Ruby has a lot of interesting 
differences from Perl 5 (which is what I'm used to) and I've taken some notes 
while reading the Pick Axe book. In my daily Ruby programming, I don't think 
I've ran into these differences a lot (except in the name of built-in methods) 
so I'm not sure I'm really exercising Ruby to its natural limits.

Other options:

1. How well do you know ANSI C? Maybe you should learn it better, and 
contribute to open-source projects that are based on it? I think every 
programmer should learn C because it gives important insights for the lower-
levels aspects of development (and is a good and essential stepping stone 
toward learning Assembly).

C and especially C++ are still in a high demand in the industry, and are 
important languages to learn.

2. Scheme - you can learn Scheme from http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/ , whose 
text is available online. SICP is a great book, and I've also taken two SICP 
courses which were enlightening.

3. Common Lisp - see:

* http://www.gigamonkeys.com/book/ - Practical Common Lisp (text available 
online) - though it convinced me that Common Lisp was not very practical.

* http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisp.html - "On Lisp" (text available online) - 
I read it before I read "Practical CL", which was probably not a good idea. 
But "On Lisp" is a nice book, and show how cool CL can be.

4. I really liked Haskell back when I learned it.

5. I found working with Matlab's tensor operations enlightening, and Perl has 
something similar with PDL, and there are similar tools for other languages 
(like SciPy). There's also Octave, which aims to be a compatible open-source 
Matlab clone.

6. I started learning Prolog, but couldn't find a good tutorial for it online 
- they were all lacking - so I stopped. It seems an interesting language, 


In regards to what Randal said about Smalltalk - it's very interesting, but I 
couldn't get along with it very well, so I abandoned it. (At least for now). 
Smalltalk requires a complete buyout into its mindset, which is very much 
unlike anything you are used to.


	Shlomi Fish

Shlomi Fish       http://www.shlomifish.org/
"Star Trek: We, the Living Dead" - http://xrl.us/omqz4

God gave us two eyes and ten fingers so we will type five times as much as we

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