ErlangInside

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Russia’s Numerous Contributions to the Erlang Community

A guest post from Dmitrii Dimandt, creator of erlanger.ru.

Erlang Inside is sponsored by Inaka Networks, Erlang consultants combining experience with Telecom to build high performance web applications.

This week, Erlang Inside has a guest post from Dmitrii Dimandt, a Russian developer and creator of the site erlanger.ru.

I’d like to talk about the Russian Erlang community and what it’s doing with Erlang. In Russia, the Erlang community is very “English-centric”. Most mailing lists, sites, tutorials, books, podcasts and so on are in English. Because of this, there’s rarely any talk of products developed for non-English speaking communities and countries. It’s not that they don’t exist. They are not widely publicized (being of no interest to non-Russian speakers) or present a competitive advantage that few would like to lose.

Russia is that legendary country where bears still roam the streets of Moscow and bearded Russian hackers drink gallons of vodka so as not to freeze to death. This stereotype is hard to beat even today, so it’s all the more surprising to the outside world to hear about cool things to come out of Russia and its neighboring post-Soviet countries.

One such project that immediately comes to mind is, of course, ejabberd. ejabberd was created by Alexey Shchepin from the Ukraine and is now so ubiquitous that it’s almost boring to write about it. You can read an interview with Alexey over at http://blogs.openaether.org/?p=59 for more insight into the history of this project.

Other projects may not be as known or as popular, but they do exist:

MoodBox (or in Russian here, http://risovaska.ru/) is an instant messenger which allows you to draw and share your creations realtime, online with your friends. Several people can work on the same picture at once.

MoodBox uses Qt for its client application and Erlang running on top of several Amazon EC2 instances for its server part. You can explore MoodBox’s channels at http://moodbox.com/channels and user created works at http://moodbox.com/moodstrips.

While MoodBox is a relatively unknown project, there’s another user-oriented project which many have already seen in action and used, perhaps, on a daily basis: JS-Kit, which has been recently renamed to Echo. Echo is a real-time embeddable commenting system that can be integrated into any website. Its feature list is impressive, and today Echo is one of the largest commenting systems on the web, powering comments for Washington Post, Forbes, cnet, Technorati and many, many others.

Although they don’t talk much about the technical side of things, it’s known that Echo is powered on the server side by Erlang (for content aggregation and distribution) and OCaml (for number crunching). Some of their tools have been open-sourced at http://github.com/EchoTeam

Echo Team’s co-founder, Lev Walkin, is available on Twitter at http://twitter.com/levwalkin and is worth following as he sometimes posts interesting things about technology (see, for example, his posts on ”Erlang, Yaws and the deadly Tornado” post and “Riak vs Voldemort“).

While MoodBox and Echo are very user-oriented, there’s one project that is targeted specifically at developers. Max Lapshin revived the stagnating erlyvideo codebase and made marvelous things with it.

Right now erlyvideo has reached version 2.0 and supports a lot of things like RTMP, MPEG-TS, iPhone Live Streaming, RTSP/RTP and more. erlyvideo is dual-licensed under GPL v3 and a commercial license. Maxim Treskin is also available on Twitter at http://twitter.com/evilmartians (mostly in Russian).

Other projects that use Erlang are not openly available or publicized. A Russian company used Haskell and Erlang for prototyping new processor chips (PDF, in Russian); a distributed system for municipal services was developed using Erlang for server-side and dynamic GUI generation and Tcl/Tk for the GUI itself, though details on where Erlang is being used are rare.

However there is significant interest in Erlang at various programming conferences, both big and small, from Highload++ (a conference on scalability and high load systems, featuring high profile speakers) to MarginCon (a new conference on “esoteric and marginalized languages” in Omsk).

All in all, the Russian Erlang community is alive and kicking. Those brave enough can join us at http://erlanger.ru/ and http://groups.google.com/group/erlang-russian/.

Thanks Dmitrii!

 

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