Elixir development

Everything you should know about Elixir in 1000 words

Elixir is a popular and relatively new programming language that is used primarily for heavily trafficked websites and highly scalable applications. Demand for Elixir development has been growing over the last several years, especially for large-scale applications with tons of users, such as social media and news services.

Created by a famous Ruby developer and member of Rails Core Team named José Valim, Elixir was officially released back in 2012. Valim’s goal was to develop a high-concurrency and low-latency programming language. In order to do this, he combined the best attributes of both the Erlang, Ruby and Clojure languages. Erlang has long been a popular coding language for the telecommunications, finance and e-commerce industries thanks to its speed and capability.

With high concurrency levels, an application can handle several thousand (or even millions) of users at one time without it affecting the performance. Low latency is important when you are processing a high volume of data, but still need the app to run quickly and smoothly without any delays. This combination of high concurrency and low latency is one of the main reasons that Elixir web development is so popular.

So, why is Elixir becoming so trendy and what are its advantages and disadvantages? Let’s take a look at Elixir pros and cons.

Elixir Advantages

There are many reasons that more and more developers and development teams are turning to Elixir for their projects. Here are some of the most common.

Concurrency

When creating an app that will be used by millions of people worldwide, the capability to run several processes at the same time is crucial. Multiple requests from multiple users have to be handled simultaneously in real time without any negative effects or slowing down of the application. Because Elixir was created with this type of concurrency in mind, it’s the development language of choice for companies like Pinterest and Moz.

Scalability 

Since Elixir runs on Erlang VM, it is able to run applications on multiple communicating nodes. This makes it easy to create larger web and IoT applications that can be scaled over several different servers. Having multiple virtualized servers over a distributed system also leads to better app performance.

Fault tolerance

One of the features that developers love most about Elixir is its fault-tolerance. It provides built-in safety mechanisms that allow the product to work even when something goes wrong. Processes alert a failure to dependent processes, even on other servers, so they can fix the problem immediately.

Ease of use

Elixir is a functional programming language that is easy to read and easy to use. It utilizes simple expressions to transform data in a safe and efficient manner. This is yet another reason that so many developers are currently choosing Elixir and why many programmers are learning the language.

Phoenix framework

Phoenix is the most popular framework for Elixir. It is similar to the way Ruby operates with Rails. The Elixir/Phoenix combination makes it easy for developers who have previously used Rails to learn and use Elixir. Phoenix with Elixir allows real-time processing on the server side with JavaScript on the client-side. This helps increase the efficiency and speed of the product and leads to a better overall user experience.

Strong developer community

Although Elixir is quite a young language, it has the time to develop an active user community where even highly qualified engineering are willing to help and share their knowledge. Moreover, there is a lot of help or tutorials easily available for developers working with Elixir. 

Elixir disadvantages 

So, we’ve just covered many of the reasons that developers love working with Elixir, but the language certainly doesn’t come without any faults. It may be popular, but it’s not the be-all, end-all choice when it comes to programming languages. Here are a few reasons why Elixir may not be the right tool for your development project.

More expensive

Because it is still a relatively new language, there are not as many qualified and experienced Elixir developers to choose from when it comes time to hire programmers. Elixir developers are rare and will cost significantly more than Java or Ruby experts. Also, the chances that your current in-house development team is experienced in Elixir is rare, so they would need to learn the language before they would be able to work on any Elixir projects.

Knowledge of Erlang required

Because Elixir is based on the Erlang platform, your development team really needs to know Erlang in order to produce the best product. The Erlang ecosystem has a large number of libraries available that are incredibly useful during the development project.

Processing speed

Elixir is not a great choice when it comes to raw CPU power and processing speed. If your application or solution involves a lot of number crunching, you’ll probably want to choose a different language for that specific purpose and then integrate it into Elixir.

On the other hand, if your system is performing many concurrent I/O and CPU tasks, Elixir can work for you, as Erlang was created with a strong focus on latency and predictable performance.

Have you made up your mind with Elixir?

With the prevalence of new programming languages popping up practically every year and the desire of developers to migrate to new, more “modern” languages, there has been an increased interest in Elixir. But how do you know if it is the right choice for your development project?

Elixir programming is the best choice for developing high load solutions and applications with large numbers of users. It is great for developing IoT applications, social media apps.

Before you decide to start a project using Elixir, it is a good idea to meet with a team of Elixir developers to get a full understanding of the scope of the language and how it will affect both the timeline and budget for your product.

iTechArt has extensive experience in Elixir for startups. If you’re thinking of using Elixir or need help with other programming languages, let’s chat.