Fred Hebert

Erlang, Tools, and Systems (Postmates)

Fred is the author of Learn You Some Erlang, Erlang in Anger, and more recently, Property-Based Testing with PropEr, Erlang, and Elixir. He co-founded and is a board member at the Erlang Ecosystem Foundation. He is a maintainer of Rebar3, and of various libraries such as recon, pobox, and so on.

He is a platform developer at Postmates, with a focus on learning from incidents and poking at various things. Previously, he was Systems Architect at Genetec, a company offering security video and IoT integration systems. Even earlier, he was a principal member of technical staff on the Heroku platform, worked in real-time bidding, and provided Erlang training.

Past Activities

Fred Hebert / Mike Williams
Code BEAM V Europe
21 May 2021
15.20 - 16.00

If at first you don't succeed, try again smarter

Mike has seen it all begin, from the early Erlang experiments, down to its ban from Ericsson, until it rose from its ashes like a phoenix. Fred joined the community later, on the first hype wave following WhatsApp's early successes, slowly making a place for itself in cloud software. Together they've seen Erlang and other BEAM technologies successfully adopted, but also have seen them fail or be abandoned. In this presentation, Mike and Fred source from their experience to offer insights about the challenges you will encounter and mistakes that can be avoided when trying to push your workplace to use new technologies, where good tech is not enough to succeed.

John Hughes / Fred Hebert
Code BEAM V America
11 Mar 2021
09.55 - 10.35

Fireside chat on Property Based Testing with John Hughes and Fred Hebert

Property-Based Testing is one of the most powerful testing methods out there, and the Erlang ecosystem has some of the best frameworks available across all languages. Property-based testing has the potential to drastically increase the quality of software we ship by testing for issues we couldn’t even imagine.
Despite great tooling and promises, adoption is still somewhat limited. Simple examples are easy to write, but more complex ones can often feel like black magic. 

In this Q&A session, Fred Hebert invites John Hughes, one of the inventors of Quickcheck, to discuss adoption strategies, how to gauge the accuracy and effectiveness of property tests, potential ideas for the future, and any questions the people in the audience might have.

José Valim / Miriam Pena / Fred Hebert / Francesco Cesarini / Peer Stritzinger
Code BEAM SF 2019
28 Feb 2019
17.45 - 18.30

Introducing the Erlang Ecosystem Foundation

Thursday evening keynote at the Code BEAM SF where you can hear all about the newly formed Erlang Ecosystem Foundation. A talk from Jose Valim, Peer Stritzinger, Fred Hebert, Miriam Pena and Francesco Cesarini who are sharing the journey and goals of the foundation that we've all waited for!

The Erlang Ecosystem Foundation's goal is to grow and support a diverse community around the Erlang and Elixir ecosystem, encouraging the continued development of technologies and open source projects based on/around its runtime and languages.

Fred Hebert
Code BEAM SF 2019
28 Feb 2019
14.40 - 15.25

Operable Erlang and Elixir

Any system that is successful necessarily grows more complex. This means that code gets messier, but also that the people who are part of the system have to handle ever-increasing complexity.

It is not sufficient to take a code-centric approach; to make our Erlang and Elixir systems truly operator-friendly, we have to understand how our mental models work, and what constitutes good automation. Finally, we need to be aware of all the tools the Erlang VM makes available to us to truly deal with the unexpected.


  • Introduce some concepts to think about complexity in large systems and how humans cope with it
  • Give measures of what makes a good or a bad abstraction in complex systems; what to automate and when to do so
  • Present some of the tools that the Erlang virtual machine provides to deal with big surprises and point to ways to introduce them to your regular workflow


People nervous about having to operate and debug the Erlang and Elixir systems they put in production, or curious about the ways in which they could improve that experience.

Fred Hebert
Code BEAM SF 2018
15 Mar 2018
14.40 - 15.25

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Unexpected

Bugs you know you will happen in production are usually easy to handle since you know about them. The problem is that we, as humans, have limited knowledge and understanding about the problem domains we write programs for and very often about our programs themselves. This is at the root of all the surprising unexpected bugs that we actually encounter all the time. While we can become experts at being careful and well-equipped in tooling and just knowing all kinds of weird situations that can arise from code and computers being a thing that we all have to live with, there are some other approaches that can prove helpful as well.

In this talk, we'll see some broad and diverse approaches to handling the unexpected, but will keep a specific focus on how building the proper supervision structures lets us encode predefined failure semantics into our programs so that we know how most errors will be handled, without even knowing what they are.