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Akka vs RxJava: What are the differences?

Introduction

In this article, we will discuss the key differences between Akka and RxJava. Both Akka and RxJava are popular frameworks used in concurrent and asynchronous programming, but they have different approaches and features.

  1. Concurrency Model: Akka follows the actor concurrency model, whereas RxJava follows the reactive streams model. In Akka, actors communicate asynchronously by sending messages to each other, while in RxJava, reactive streams allow for the flow of data and events between components in an asynchronous manner.

  2. Error Handling: Akka provides supervisors that handle errors and exceptions at the actor level, allowing for fault-tolerant systems. On the other hand, RxJava handles errors using the observer pattern, where errors are propagated to the observer, who can handle them accordingly.

  3. Backpressure Handling: Akka uses a mailbox-based approach for backpressure handling, where actors have a bounded mailbox and can control the rate of incoming messages. RxJava, on the other hand, relies on the reactive streams backpressure mechanism to handle the flow of data in case of overloaded subscribers.

  4. Integration: Akka is designed to work well in distributed systems and provides built-in support for remote actors and distributed messaging. RxJava, on the other hand, is primarily focused on handling asynchronous and reactive programming within a single application or system.

  5. Concurrency Model Granularity: Akka provides a fine-grained concurrency model with individual actors that can handle specific tasks or functionalities. In contrast, RxJava focuses on composing multiple streams and provides a more coarse-grained concurrency model.

  6. Language Support: Akka is implemented in Scala but provides APIs for both Scala and Java. RxJava, on the other hand, is implemented in Java and provides APIs only for Java.

In summary, Akka and RxJava differ in their concurrency models, error handling mechanisms, backpressure handling approaches, integration capabilities, concurrency model granularity, and language support. Akka emphasizes distributed systems and fine-grained concurrency, while RxJava focuses on reactive programming within a single application or system using reactive streams.

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Pros of Akka
Pros of RxJava
  • 32
    Great concurrency model
  • 17
    Fast
  • 12
    Actor Library
  • 10
    Open source
  • 7
    Resilient
  • 5
    Message driven
  • 5
    Scalable
  • 1
    Reactive Libraries as per Reactive Manifesto

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Cons of Akka
Cons of RxJava
  • 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 is Akka?

    Akka is a toolkit and runtime for building highly concurrent, distributed, and resilient message-driven applications on the JVM.

    What is RxJava?

    A library for composing asynchronous and event-based programs by using observable sequences for the Java VM.

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    What companies use Akka?
    What companies use RxJava?
    See which teams inside your own company are using Akka or RxJava.
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    What tools integrate with Akka?
    What tools integrate with RxJava?
    What are some alternatives to Akka and RxJava?
    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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