First of all, I’ve been watching Erlang for quite a while, even bought and read the first book, but haven’t written anything to speak of in it yet, so take this for what it’s worth, probably not much.
I downloaded the base CEAN zip file on my windows machine at work, extracted it, and tried running start.bat from the command line. No success. Sorry, I can’t remember details as I type this from my Mac at home. I think it either got the path to the windows erlang executable wrong, or perhaps it counted on the PATH environment variable, for which there were no instructions. So I gave up on start.bat, found the windows executable (werl.exe?) and ran that, and tried the cean: functions. For a long-time erlang programer, that may be enough, but if we expect newbies to get a quick start in erlang by using cean, it needs an easier user interface.
What you suggest sounds good, but it should also list available packages and allow push-button installation. I haven’t done much GUI programming in any language, so web interfaces sound easier to me, especially since they are more easily platform-independent. Even an interactive command-line dialog similar to the CPAN shell would help. As for configuration, I’d strive to keep the CEAN machinery separate from the other downloaded packages. I agree that the packages should not be altered. Eventually, CEAN may need to publish requirements for package authors to conform to. Perhaps a CEAN-oriented install, uninstall, and management API that each package must include in order to be available through CEAN. Then the local CEAN interface would call into the packages to list, install, uninstall, start, stop, configure, etc.
A more comprehensive windows installer and more detailed documentation would also help.
Here’s an example of what an erlang newbie I am: I found the function that lists all available packages, but it only displayed a handful, finishing with “...]”. Was there some way to tell it to list the whole thing?
I’ll try CEAN on my Mac, too.
Thanks for listening.