ruby vs elixir

Elixir vs. Ruby: Which is better for your startup?

Ruby has been one of the most popular programming languages for decades. It is still the coding language of choice for most web app developers.

As more new languages enter the development landscape, will Ruby continue to be that popular? Or will another language take its place? We recently wrote a post about how Ruby stacks up against Google’s Golang. And now we’re here to talk about Elixir.

So, what exactly is Elixir and how does it compare to Ruby? Here’s what you need to know.

Elixir: The new kid on the block

The Elixir programming language was developed back in 2011 by José Valim, a famous Ruby developer and creator of several Ruby gems. It is a general-purpose programming language that runs on Björn's Erlang Abstract Machine (BEAM) which can be easily scaled over many servers (that’s a huge advantage when you’re working on a really big web application). Elixir is a great language for developing highly scalable applications and websites that receive a lot of traffic.

Elixir is rising in popularity among developers as an alternative to Ruby. Moz uses Elixir. Recently, both Bleacher Report and Pinterest switched to Elixir. Eric Weinstein of Hulu gave a fascinating presentation last year in Barcelona about Elixir machine learning capabilities. Everybody seems to be buzzing about this latest “it” language.

While Elixir’s star is certainly rising, how does it stack up against its tried and true competitor Ruby? Well, as with any programming language, they both have their advantages and disadvantages. 

Ruby vs. Elixir performance

Is Elixir web development better than Ruby’s? Well, Elixir is much faster because it is a compiled language that allows thousands of processes to run concurrently. While Ruby struggles in this area, Elixir succeeds in creating high-availability, low-latency systems.

Elixir is also a better development tool for writing concurrent applications. This is especially true if you are developing an IoT application, social media or chat app. Basically, if you’re building anything that will have a large number of users, you’ll probably want to choose Elixir. Of course, Elixir is going to be more expensive and time-consuming, given the fact that it is still a new language and there aren’t a lot of experienced Elixir developers available.

The one thing you probably don’t want to do with Elixir? Game development. Developers currently using Elixir all tend to agree that it’s not the best programming language for creating gaming apps.

Ruby does still have several advantages. Ruby is better for creating prototypes or small applications without a ton of traffic or users. It has a lot more libraries available than Elixir simply due to the fact that it’s been around for so long. There are hundreds of Ruby gems to choose from during the development process that speed up your production. Most developers still consider Ruby the more “fun” programming language.

Conclusion

The decision to go with Elixir, Ruby, Golang, or any other programming language should be based on the overall needs of the solution and the user. Just simply decide what type of experience you want a customer using your application to have, and then find the best language and programming team to get you to that goal.

If you need help with an Elixir, Ruby or Golang project (or any project for that matter), let us know! We have highly-skilled developers that are experts in all these types of languages.