Free Programming Books

Excellent Free Books to Learn Erlang

Erlang is a general-purpose, concurrent, declarative, functional programming language and runtime environment developed by Ericsson, a Swedish multinational provider of communications technology and services. Erlang is dynamically typed and has a pattern matching syntax. The language solves difficult problems inherent in parallel, concurrent environments. It uses sets of parallel supervised processes, not a single sequential process as found in most programming languages.

Erlang was created in 1986 at the Ellemtel Telecommunication Systems Laboratories for telecommunication systems. The objective was to build a simple and efficient programming language resilient large-scale concurrent industrial applications.

Besides telecommunication systems and applications and other large industrial real-time systems, Erlang is particularly suitable for servers for internet applications, e-commerce, and networked database applications. The versatility of the language is, in part, due to its extensive collection of libraries.

The language is released under an open source license, initially the Erlang Public License, now supplanted by the Apache License 2.0.


1. Erlang Handbook by Bjarne Däcker, Robert Virding

Erlang Handbook

The Erlang Handbook is a concise summary of the language features and the runtime system. Readers don’t need to wade through a large body of text; the book is only 46 pages. A good introduction to the world of Erlang.

It’s aimed at people with some programming experience, serving as a quick introduction to the Erlang domain.

The book was originally written by Bjarne Däcker and subsequently revised by Robert Virding.

The book focuses on the following areas:

  • Structure of an Erlang program – offers a brief introduction to module syntax, module attributes, comments, character set, and reserved words.
  • Data types – unary data types, compound data types, escape sequences, and type conversions.
  • Pattern matching – variables and pattern matching.
  • Functions – function definition, function calls, expressions including Boolean expressions, compound expressions, guard sequences, tail recursion, funs, and built-in functions.
  • Processes – examines process creation, registered processes, process communication, process termination, monitors, process priorities, and process dictionary.
  • Error handling – deals with error handling within a process. Such errors are known as exceptions.
  • Distributed Erlang – looks at nodes, node connections, hidden nodes, cookies, distribution built-in functions, distribution command line flags, and distribution modules.
  • Ports and Port Drivers.
  • Code loading.
  • Macros.

This text is made available under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. The handbook is typeset using LaTeX.

Read the book


2. Études for Erlang by J. David Eisenberg

Etudes for Erlang

Études for Erlang provides descriptions of programs that you can write in Erlang.

The programs are typically short, and each one is designed as practice material for a particular Erlang programming concept.

These programs have not been designed to be of considerable difficulty, though they may ask the reader to stretch a bit beyond the immediate material and examples that are found in the book Introducing Erlang.

Example programs cover:

  • Functions and Modules.
  • Atoms, Tuples and Pattern Matching.
  • Logic and Recursion.
  • Strings.
  • Lists.
  • Higher Order Functions and List Comprehensions.
  • Processes.
  • Handling Errors.
  • Storing Structured Data.
  • Getting Started with OTP.
  • Solutions.

This book is released under an open source license.

Read the book


3. Stuff Goes Bad: Erlang in Anger

Stuff Goes Bad: Erlang in AngerThis book intends to be a little guide about how to be the Erlang medic in a time of war.

It is first and foremost a collection of tips and tricks to help understand where failures come from, and a dictionary of different code snippets and practices that helped developers debug production systems that were built in Erlang.

The first three chapters explore writing applications:

  • How to Dive into a Code Base.
  • Building Open Source Erlang Software.
  • Planning for Overload.

The next three chapters focus on diagnosing applications:

  • Connecting to Remote Nodes.
  • Runtime Metrics.
  • Reading Crash Dumps.
  • Memory Leaks.
  • CPU and Scheduler Hogs.
  • Tracing.

The book is published under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Read the book


Next page: Page 2 – Learn You Some Erlang for great good and more books

Pages in this article:
Page 1 – Erlang Handbook and more books
Page 2 – Learn You Some Erlang for great good and more books
Page 3 – Erlang/OTP System Documentation and more books


All books in this series:

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