Saturday, November 11, 2006

12th Erlang User Conference

Here I am at Stockholm, Sweden, blogging a day after the 12th International Erlang User Conference.

I had a blast.

I arrived here a few days ago after a long journey from Boston via Paris. A few days before I left, Joe Armstrong generously offered to host me. Accepting the invitation couldn't have been any easier -- I don't get to stay very often for 3 days with the creator of my favorite programming language :).

Spending time with Joe was great. We had many interesting conversations about Erlang, computer science, culture, business, politics, design, and life. It was a rare opportunity to befriend someone who has accomplished so much and who has such a wealth of knowledge and ideas about the fields in which I'm most interested.

Joe is passionate about concurrent programming and the design of fault tolerant systems. This is how he summarized the main ideas behind Erlang (I'm probably paraphrasing): "To build a fault tolerant system, you need at least two computers. Why? Because one of them can crash. If you have more than one computer, you need distributed programming. Distributed applications run in different threads, and therefore concurrency is an integral part of fault tolerant systems."

Many of the presentations were very interesting, but the best part (at least for me) was meeting all the Erlangers I knew only from email correspondence, among whom are Claes (Klacke) Wikstrom, Mickael Remond (the founder of Process One), Ulf Wiger, Robert Virding and many others.

Everyone I met was very friendly, intelligent, down-to-earth, and had a healthy sense of humor. They all love programming in Erlang.

I had a great time chatting with Klacke. Klacke has had one of the most impressive careers of anyone I've ever met. He's created Mnesia, Yaws, distributed Erlang, and many parts of the Erlang emulator. He's also one of the people behind Bluetail, Kreditor, and now tail-f. Klacke constantly comes up with great quotes. Here are a couple of good ones as I remember them: "It feels like I have a sharp knife in my pocket, and other people have a blunt one", "Some problems you can't imagine solving if you don't have the right tools".

I also enjoyed talking with Ulf Wiger, who has developed with Joe Armstrong a very interesting framework for cooperative web development in Erlang called Erlhive. Maybe we will have opportunities for collaboration somwhere down the road.

Finally, I had a nice tour of Stockholm today (but too bad it rained). It's a beautiful city. I walked around the old town and I also visited the Vasa museum, whose exhibit is an impressive warship from the 1600's that capsized due to an engineering blunder: to please the the King's whims, the engineers loaded the ship with too many canons. Due to the excess weight at the top of the ship, it had several glorious minutes of sailing before it sank in the Stockholm harbour. Oops.

I would like to write in more detail, but my jetlag is starting to wear thin and I have to get some sleep as I'm flying to Copenhagen tomorrow. After that, I'm travelling for 3 weeks in Europe, visiting Amsterdam, Paris, Lyon, the south of France, and Spain (mostly Barcelona).

I'll end this posting with few pictures I've taken:

Me, Joe and Mickael Remond

Me and Klacke, A.K.A the Erlang Open Source Web Squad. Our weapons: Erlang, Yaws and ErlyWeb. Our mission: to end web development suckage, one webapp at a time :)

1 comment:

Ce Doree said...

Glad to hear you had such a great time!