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Akka vs Project Reactor: What are the differences?

Introduction

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Akka and Project Reactor. Both Akka and Project Reactor are popular frameworks for building reactive systems, but they differ in various aspects ranging from their programming models to their core features.

  1. Concurrency Model: Akka is built on the actor model where concurrency is achieved by arranging actors that communicate via message passing. On the other hand, Project Reactor uses the reactive streams specification which is based on the publisher-subscriber pattern. It leverages non-blocking backpressure to handle flow control, making it suitable for building highly scalable systems.

  2. Language Support: Akka is primarily written in Scala and provides bindings for Java. It leverages the functional programming nature of Scala to provide a highly expressive and concise programming model. Project Reactor, on the other hand, is based on the Reactive Streams specification and provides support for both Java and Kotlin.

  3. Concurrency Control: Akka provides fine-grained control over concurrency with its actor model. Each actor has its own mailbox and processes messages asynchronously, allowing for efficient utilization of system resources. Project Reactor, on the other hand, provides an abstraction called a Flux or Mono, which represents a stream of events. It automatically handles concurrency and parallelism by using reactive operators.

  4. Error Handling: Akka provides supervision strategies that allow for fault-tolerance in a distributed system. In case of an error, supervisors can decide how to handle the failure and resume normal execution. Project Reactor also provides error-handling mechanisms, but it focuses more on providing operators for handling reactive streams, such as retrying, filtering, and transforming events.

  5. Integration with Reactive Libraries: Akka integrates well with other reactive libraries and frameworks such as Akka HTTP and Akka Persistence. It provides a comprehensive ecosystem for building reactive applications. Project Reactor, on the other hand, integrates seamlessly with Spring Framework, which is widely used in Java applications. It benefits from Spring's dependency injection and component model to build reactive systems.

  6. Community and Industry Adoption: Akka has been around for a longer time and has gained significant industry adoption. It has a mature community and a vast ecosystem of plugins and libraries. Project Reactor, although relatively newer, has gained traction due to its integration with Spring Framework and its alignment with the Reactive Streams specification. It has a growing community and is being adopted by many organizations.

In summary, Akka and Project Reactor differ in their concurrency models, language support, concurrency control mechanisms, error handling approaches, integration with other reactive libraries, and community adoption. Each framework has its strengths and weaknesses, offering developers different options when building reactive systems.

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Pros of Akka
Pros of Project Reactor
  • 32
    Great concurrency model
  • 17
    Fast
  • 12
    Actor Library
  • 10
    Open source
  • 7
    Resilient
  • 5
    Message driven
  • 5
    Scalable
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    Cons of Akka
    Cons of Project Reactor
    • 3
      Mixing futures with Akka tell is difficult
    • 2
      Closing of futures
    • 2
      No type safety
    • 1
      Very difficult to refactor
    • 1
      Typed actors still not stable
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      What companies use Akka?
      What companies use Project Reactor?
      See which teams inside your own company are using Akka or Project Reactor.
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      What tools integrate with Akka?
      What tools integrate with Project Reactor?
      What are some alternatives to Akka and Project Reactor?
      Spring
      A key element of Spring is infrastructural support at the application level: Spring focuses on the "plumbing" of enterprise applications so that teams can focus on application-level business logic, without unnecessary ties to specific deployment environments.
      Scala
      Scala is an acronym for “Scalable Language”. This means that Scala grows with you. You can play with it by typing one-line expressions and observing the results. But you can also rely on it for large mission critical systems, as many companies, including Twitter, LinkedIn, or Intel do. To some, Scala feels like a scripting language. Its syntax is concise and low ceremony; its types get out of the way because the compiler can infer them.
      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.
      Kafka
      Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.
      Spring Boot
      Spring Boot makes it easy to create stand-alone, production-grade Spring based Applications that you can "just run". We take an opinionated view of the Spring platform and third-party libraries so you can get started with minimum fuss. Most Spring Boot applications need very little Spring configuration.
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