Elixir vs. Ruby: Which is the Better Option?
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Despite their similarities, Elixir and Ruby have distinctive features that can impact a product’s development and performance. So, let’s go over the Elixir vs. Ruby comparison to help you decide which is the better option for your project’s needs.
It’s much easier to make a decision when you know what’s important to you. Whether it’s your vacation or the programming language for a forthcoming project, you should always go for the option that best suits your needs. After all, even though skiing is fantastic, it won’t be the best option if you’re craving sunbathing on warm, sandy beaches.
With that said, let’s focus on discussing two prominent programming language options: Elixir vs. Ruby. Both offer great, even similar features (just like both vacation locations provide fun places), but they also have different strengths (you certainly can’t enjoy sandy beaches on mountains).
What is Ruby?
Ruby is an object-oriented programming language, created in 1993 by Yukihiro Matsumoto. Matsumoto placed the biggest emphasis on programming productivity and simplicity, making Ruby “a developer’s best friend”. Due to its user-friendly qualities, the language enables engineers to work quickly and achieve so much with so little code.
What is Elixir?
Elixir is a functional programming language built by José Valim in 2011. Inspired by Ruby’s user-friendliness and Erlang’s fault tolerance, Elixir inherits Ruby-like syntax and runs on Erlang virtual machine BEAM. This way, José created a solution that allows fast development of fault-tolerant, reliable programs.
Elixir vs. Ruby: comparison
Let’s start our Elixir vs. Ruby comparison by looking at Elixir’s characteristics.
Pros of Elixir
Built-in concurrency support
This is thanks to Erlang VM’s features, which are well-known for managing simultaneous connections. Therefore, Elixir allows engineers to build programs that efficiently handle multiple processes at the same time.
Allows scalable solutions
Elixir excels when it comes to handling heavy data loads. As traffic increases, Elixir-powered systems accommodate the new bandwidth demand without adding extra servers. As many modern programs face scaling challenges, Elixir’s scalability comes in handy.
Elixir comes with a set of tools that makes writing fault-tolerant programs easy. These “safety mechanisms” allow the program to execute as intended despite unexpected occurrences. For instance, the system will return to its original form if one of the components fails.
Cons of Elixir
Narrow Talent Pool
Elixir is a relatively young language, so its talent pool is still relatively narrow. However, since Elixir borrows many features from Ruby and Erlang, most of these languages’ engineers can start using Elixir in a few days or weeks, though they’ll still need training.
Elixir’s ecosystem lacks the resources available in more established languages. Of course, engineers have access to many basic reusable functionalities, but there’s still room for improvement in available libraries.
Adapting to functional programming
Most people code in object-oriented languages like Java or Python, so adapting to Elixir’s functional programming may be challenging. However, once developers grasp Elixir’s modules and functions, they can enjoy super easy, efficient coding.
Time for the second part of the Elixir vs. Ruby discussion ― Ruby’s pros and cons.
Pros of Ruby
Productive and fun coding
As we’ve mentioned, Matsumoto designed Ruby to be a productive language that’d make programming fast and fun. And he undoubtedly succeeded, since developers love Ruby’s simple yet powerful syntax, allowing them to build complex solutions with minimal code.
Ruby’s most popular framework, Ruby on Rails, was released in 2003, revolutionizing the web development world. Besides facilitating fast and effective software engineering, it also has a matured ecosystem with well-established, standard solutions to various challenges.
According to the TIOBE index for February 2023, Ruby is the 16th most popular programming language. So, there are many job openings for Ruby engineers as well as experienced and skilled Ruby developers available for hire.
Cons of Ruby
Lack of threading and concurrency support
Ruby allows for only one active thread at a time. Therefore, the language isn’t ideal for developing concurrent applications. Simply, without built-in concurrency support, developers can’t properly handle traffic-heavy solutions.
Ruby employs numerous “behind the scenes” processes to keep code simple and engineers productive. But, when less experienced developers don’t know what’s going on the other side of “the curtain”, it can lead to a slew of maintenance challenges.
In most cases, the performance of Ruby relies on the developer’s experience to efficiently write the code. However, if creating a high-traffic app, remember that Ruby isn’t the best option for the task.
Elixir vs. Ruby: which one should you choose?
As with most decisions, there is no definitive answer. It all depends on your specific needs.
Use Elixir if you need scalable solutions that can handle concurrency and huge data loads. On the other hand, you can put your trust in Ruby when designing a prototype or a small application (and you’re 100% sure it won’t ever have too many users!).
Here’s a brief review of various services and whether they are fine with Ruby or should you opt for Elixir.
Ruby use cases:
- MVPs (minimum viable products)
- App concepts
Elixir use cases:
- IoT (Internet of Things) apps
- Web apps with a large user base
- High-traffic programs (e.g. messaging app)
It’s important to note that you can use Elixir for MVPs and other Ruby’s typical use cases. But Ruby’s performance can’t quite match Elixir’s applications. This makes Elixir an excellent option if you want Ruby’s productivity with enhanced scalability, fault tolerance, and concurrency.
Of course, the final decision should be yours, in line with your project’s requirements. We hope this Elixir vs. Ruby comparison will assist you in selecting the best option!