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Elixir vs Erlang: What are the differences?

  1. Concurrent programming: One key difference between Elixir and Erlang is their approach to concurrent programming. Elixir provides a more developer-friendly syntax and tools for concurrent programming compared to Erlang. It has the concept of processes and lightweight threads called "actors" that allow for easy and efficient parallelism. Erlang, on the other hand, has a strong focus on concurrency and fault-tolerance, with its own process model and message-passing mechanisms, making it ideal for building highly scalable and fault-tolerant distributed systems.

  2. Syntax and expressiveness: Elixir is based on the Erlang VM, but it offers a more modern and expressive syntax compared to Erlang. Elixir introduces a Ruby-like syntax that is more readable and enjoyable for many developers. It also includes features like pattern matching, metaprogramming, and polymorphism, which are not as readily available in Erlang. These features make Elixir a more flexible and powerful language for developing applications.

  3. Tooling and ecosystem: Elixir has a growing and vibrant ecosystem with a rich set of libraries and tools. The language has its own package manager called Hex, which provides easy access to libraries and dependencies. Elixir also has a built-in build tool called Mix, which makes it simple to create and manage projects. In contrast, Erlang has a more mature ecosystem with a focus on stability and reliability. It has its own package manager called rebar3 and a build tool called OTP (Open Telecom Platform) that provides tools for building and deploying Erlang applications.

  4. Functional programming: Both Elixir and Erlang are functional programming languages, but Elixir takes a more "functional-first" approach compared to Erlang. Elixir encourages the use of immutable data structures and pure functions, making it easier to reason about and test code. Erlang, on the other hand, allows for more mutable state and side effects, which can make it more challenging to write and maintain code in a purely functional style.

  5. Metaprogramming: Elixir has a powerful metaprogramming system that allows developers to dynamically generate and modify code at compile-time. This feature enables powerful abstractions and code generation, making Elixir great for building frameworks and DSLs (Domain Specific Languages). Erlang, on the other hand, does not have built-in metaprogramming capabilities, which can limit the flexibility and expressiveness of the language.

  6. Community and community support: Elixir has a thriving and welcoming community that actively supports and contributes to the language. There are numerous online resources, forums, and meetups dedicated to Elixir and its ecosystem. The community is known for its friendliness and willingness to help others. Erlang also has a strong community, but it may not be as large as the Elixir community. However, Erlang benefits from being a mature language with a stable and well-established community that has been around for many years.

In summary, Elixir and Erlang have key differences in their approach to concurrent programming, syntax and expressiveness, tooling and ecosystem, functional programming, metaprogramming, and community support. While Elixir offers a more developer-friendly syntax, advanced tooling, and a powerful metaprogramming system, Erlang excels in concurrency and fault-tolerance and has a more mature and stable ecosystem.

Decisions about Elixir and Erlang

#rust #elixir So am creating a messenger with voice call capabilities app which the user signs up using phone number and so at first i wanted to use Actix so i learned Rust so i thought to myself because well its first i felt its a bit immature to use actix web even though some companies are using Rust but we cant really say the full potential of Rust in a full scale app for example in Discord both Elixir and Rust are used meaning there is equal need for them but for Elixir so many companies use it from Whatsapp, Wechat, etc and this means something for Rust is not ready to go full scale we cant assume all this possibilities when it come Rust. So i decided to go the Erlang way after alot of Thinking so Do you think i made the right decision?Am 19 year programmer so i assume am not experienced as you so your answer or comment would really valuable to me

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Timm Stelzer
VP Of Engineering at Flexperto GmbH · | 18 upvotes · 616.6K views

We have a lot of experience in JavaScript, writing our services in NodeJS allows developers to transition to the back end without any friction, without having to learn a new language. There is also the option to write services in TypeScript, which adds an expressive type layer. The semi-shared ecosystem between front and back end is nice as well, though specifically NodeJS libraries sometimes suffer in quality, compared to other major languages.

As for why we didn't pick the other languages, most of it comes down to "personal preference" and historically grown code bases, but let's do some post-hoc deduction:

Go is a practical choice, reasonably easy to learn, but until we find performance issues with our NodeJS stack, there is simply no reason to switch. The benefits of using NodeJS so far outweigh those of picking Go. This might change in the future.

PHP is a language we're still using in big parts of our system, and are still sometimes writing new code in. Modern PHP has fixed some of its issues, and probably has the fastest development cycle time, but it suffers around modelling complex asynchronous tasks, and (on a personal note) lack of support for writing in a functional style.

We don't use Python, Elixir or Ruby, mostly because of personal preference and for historic reasons.

Rust, though I personally love and use it in my projects, would require us to specifically hire for that, as the learning curve is quite steep. Its web ecosystem is OK by now (see, but in my opinion, it is still no where near that of the other web languages. In other words, we are not willing to pay the price for playing this innovation card.

Haskell, as with Rust, I personally adore, but is simply too esoteric for us. There are problem domains where it shines, ours is not one of them.

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Pros of Elixir
Pros of Erlang
  • 172
  • 161
  • 133
    Erlang vm
  • 112
    Great documentation
  • 105
    Great tooling
  • 86
    Immutable data structures
  • 81
    Open source
  • 77
  • 62
    Easy to get started
  • 59
    Actor library
  • 32
    Functional with a neat syntax
  • 29
    Ruby inspired
  • 25
    Erlang evolved
  • 24
  • 22
    Beauty of Ruby, Speed of Erlang/C
  • 17
    Fault Tolerant
  • 14
  • 13
    High Performance
  • 11
    Pipe Operator
  • 11
    Good lang
  • 11
    Doc as first class citizen
  • 9
    Fun to write
  • 9
    Stinkin' fast, no memory leaks, easy on the eyes
  • 8
    Resilient to failure
  • 8
  • 6
    GenServer takes the guesswork out of background work
  • 4
  • 4
    Pattern matching
  • 4
    Not Swift
  • 4
    Fast, Concurrent with clean error messages
  • 3
    Easy to use
  • 2
    Error isolation
  • 2
    Dynamic Typing
  • 61
    Real time, distributed applications
  • 61
    Concurrency Support
  • 57
    Fault tolerance
  • 35
    Soft real-time
  • 31
    Open source
  • 21
    Functional programming
  • 21
    Message passing
  • 15
    Immutable data
  • 13
    Works as expected
  • 5
    Facebook chat uses it at backend
  • 4
  • 4
    Knowledgeable community
  • 3
    Bullets included

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Cons of Elixir
Cons of Erlang
  • 11
    Fewer jobs for Elixir experts
  • 7
    Smaller userbase than other mainstream languages
  • 5
    Elixir's dot notation less readable ("object": 1st arg)
  • 4
    Dynamic typing
  • 1
    Difficult to understand
  • 1
    Not a lot of learning books available
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    What is Elixir?

    Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-latency, distributed and fault-tolerant systems, while also being successfully used in web development and the embedded software domain.

    What is Erlang?

    Some of Erlang's uses are in telecoms, banking, e-commerce, computer telephony and instant messaging. Erlang's runtime system has built-in support for concurrency, distribution and fault tolerance. OTP is set of Erlang libraries and design principles providing middle-ware to develop these systems.

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    What companies use Elixir?
    What companies use Erlang?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Elixir or Erlang.
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    Oct 24 2019 at 7:43PM


    What are some alternatives to Elixir and Erlang?
    Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.
    Clojure is designed to be a general-purpose language, combining the approachability and interactive development of a scripting language with an efficient and robust infrastructure for multithreaded programming. Clojure is a compiled language - it compiles directly to JVM bytecode, yet remains completely dynamic. Clojure is a dialect of Lisp, and shares with Lisp the code-as-data philosophy and a powerful macro system.
    Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced functional programming with imperative programming.
    Rust is a systems programming language that combines strong compile-time correctness guarantees with fast performance. It improves upon the ideas of other systems languages like C++ by providing guaranteed memory safety (no crashes, no data races) and complete control over the lifecycle of memory.
    It is a general purpose language that can be used in any domain and use case, it is ideally suited for proprietary business logic and data analysis, fast prototyping and enhancing existing software environments with correct code, performance and scalability.
    See all alternatives