We have some exciting news, the brand new Erlang Forums has just gone live!
This is great news not just for the Erlang-specific community but for the entire BEAM world - we’re on the cusp of an Erlang evolution and we’re really excited about what this could mean not just for Erlang but for Elixir and all the other languages that run on the Erlang VM too.
Please read the launch announcement to see why we’re so excited and then come back here to see what all this could mean for Elixir
Read it? Excited!? Great!!
Ok, let’s continue…
Firstly, don’t panic, this forum is staying here While it would have been easy to move it there it wouldn’t have been fair on Elixir users, nor Erlang/other BEAM lang users because it would have just felt like an Elixir forum full of Elixir content, and this could have made everyone else feel like they’re secondary or imposing on someone else’s territory. Besides, the community here has shaped this forum’s personality and helped forged its path over the last 5 years and the new forum and the community that develops there deserves the opportunity to do the same. So this forum is not only staying here, but we even made some changes recently to help with Elixir’s own future growth, such as with our new Elixir Ecosystem Chat sections.
The reason why the new forum matters is because it is aiming to play a part in the progress and success of Erlang, and the success of Erlang is important to every language that runs on the BEAM. A strong and healthy Erlang means a strong and healthy BEAM world, a dead or dying Erlang would almost certainly spell the same for all other BEAM languages. But that’s not the only reason to support Erlang.
Erlang has done so much for Elixir (and other BEAM languages) so much so that they simply wouldn’t exist as we know them today without it. Not only that, but many Erlang VIPs including the Erlang/OTP team and Erlang’s creators Robert and Joe, have been openly supportive of Elixir on places like this very forum. In fact Robert has been on our admin team here since pretty much day one and Joe joined it just before he passed away. They have shown us a lot of love and kindness, and so it feels right that we do the same for them. Now that Elixir is off to a great start and past its most fragile stages, we can definitely turn some of our attention to helping Erlang in a similar way.
If the above isn’t good enough reason in itself, there are actually a few more things worth considering.
As many of you know Elixir is no longer seen as a new language and you could argue that we’re now way past attracting early adopters. This means we’re more likely to see different kinds of users interested in Elixir moving forward, and perhaps more importantly, we’re going to encounter different expectations - and these are likely to be ‘higher’ expectations. This is because the shift in users progresses from mostly interest based, to needs based. While it may feel like a small detail it’s an important one. Take a look at the chart we posted recently to see this in a little more detail.
Something we’re also more clearly beginning to see are the segments that Elixir has been carving out for itself - the areas where it is excelling, as well as the areas where it’s not doing quite as well. We’re seeing a lot of start-ups use Elixir for instance - which is very cool! On the flip side, we don’t see much interest from the Enterprise - which is ok too. It would be near impossible to be all things to all users and this is one of the reasons why a cohesive and cooperative BEAM community working in harmony benefits us all.
Did you know that when vending machines were first introduced soft drink manufacturers would insist machines from a competitor could not be placed on the same site? They were worried they would lose sales. One day this was put to the test, where they placed vending machines for soft drinks of two competing brands right next to each other. Can you guess what happened? Did they lose sales? Sell as many as they were when there was only one machine? Nope - sales doubled! The choice went from “do I want a can of cola?” to “which can of cola do I want?” Fascinating, right!?
Benefits to the BEAM world can go beyond that - because if there is relative equality and good and meaningful BEAM interop it could expand the potential userbase of each language by the potential userbase of each individual language.
Imagine a BEAM world where a few decades worth of Erlang users suddenly decide to use Phoenix for their web layer, or Nx for ML, or Gleam because they need static typing, or Caramel or LFE or one of the other BEAM languages because they excel in some area that is an important part of their application. We already see some of these benefits on other platforms like the JVM and we’ve seen some of it with the BEAM - but we can go much further.
We’re stronger together.
A strong, healthy Erlang brings numerous other benefits too. Some of this was covered in the forum’s launch announcement but is worth repeating here. Did you know the Erlang core team consists of almost 20 people? And that they’re all employed by Ericsson? We didn’t either!
We recently had a thread here where many were disappointed that a billion dollar company which successfully used Elixir to get to where it did, decided to leave Elixir citing one of the reasons that the language they were moving to was being developed by a large company (JetBrains). Well guess what, we have our own billion dollar company already driving the BEAM. Ericsson!
All this time it’s been sitting there right under our noses! Not only are they the type of company that the Enterprise are drawn to, but they are very heavily invested in the BEAM because they created it and because to this day it is still an important part of their business (why else would the team consist of that many people?) They want to see Erlang go from strength to strength just as much as we do, and, so, who knows where a bit of support from us might lead?
Maybe they will employ José and/or some of the Elixir team to help bring macros to Erlang (or whatever else Erlang needs to more easily use cool Elixir tech like Phoenix and Nx), or maybe they will come up with some other way to facilitate interop more easily with Elixir and other BEAM languages. There’s no telling how or where things may go - and we don’t know about you - but we’re ready and willing to find out!
The future of Erlang feels exciting. The future of the BEAM world does too. We hope you agree and we can’t wait to see where - with your help and involvement - all that leads