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Golang or Elixir — Help me decide


Programming Style

Go (commonly referred to as Golang) is a C-like Object Oriented language, while Elixir is a Ruby-like Functional language. The programming styles of each platform were chosen due to the intended platform usage. As a general purpose language, Go incorporates many features of languages such as C and Python, but with an exceptional concurrency layer designed to leverage modern multi-core CPUs. Elixir, first released in 2012, is based on the Erlang VM and enforces immutable data and pattern matching, but also a powerful macro system that forms the building blocks of the language itself.

The Go language incorporates first class functions, which provide for some functional capabilities. Although very C- like, including structs and pointers, Go also offers variadic functions, closures, and the ability to return multiple values from a function. Each of these features make Go more expressive. Go also provides its own limited style of pattern matching in the form of interfaces.

// invoke a closure with one parameter but returning two
func invoke(fn func(string) (int, string), msg string) (int, string) {
  return fn(msg)
}

Each of Elixir's features are designed to enable effortless development of distributed, fault-tolerant applications such as web servers and databases. Pipes are available to chain functions together, while list comprehensions, extensive enumerable functions, and streaming provide numerous ways to process lists of data easily and lazily.

# lazily output a list of words from file
File.stream!("./list_of_words.txt")
|> Enum.map(&String.trim/1)
|> Enum.each(&IO.puts/1)

Elixir also supports pattern matching binary data, which makes encoding and decoding binary packets simpler than any other programming language available today.

Runtime Speed

Go is compiled to a native binary, while Elixir is compiled to bytecode and executed on the Erlang Virtual Machine (BEAM). As such, Go produces applications that run much faster than Elixir. As a rule, Go applications will run comparative to Java applications, but with a tiny memory footprint. Elixir, on the other hand, will typically run faster than platforms such as Ruby and Python, but cannot compete with the sheer speed of Go.

Runtime and memory benchmarking

Runtime and memory benchmarking (Brainf**k benchmarks)

Erlang, the platform underlying Elixir, makes numerous sacrifices in runtime speed in order to provide memory safety, native distributed messaging (clustering), and fault tolerant process management. However, additional speed can be gained where absolutely necessary by incorporating native code called "NIF's" in Elixir applications.

Go was built by Google in 2009 to replace languages such as C++. As such, it was designed as a solution to a large range of programming problems such as web servers, desktop applications, and even games. Runtime speed, therefore, is a high priority of Go.

Fault Tolerance

Elixir (and the Erlang Virtual Machine) were designed from the ground up as a fault tolerant platform. The philosophy of Elixir is "Let it crash!", meaning that an application exception should kill its process. This empowers the developer as there is much less need to write defensive code and to cater for every eventuality. Go, on the other hand, makes no assumptions about the application you are writing. Therefore, applications written in Go are not fault tolerant out-of-the-box.

Elixir provides the notion of process "Supervisors" which create new processes instantaneously when their predecessor dies. Each supervisor can be configured to kill sibling processes if necessary, so that all processes are in sync. Supervisors can also be linked as parent -> child, forming a process tree. The underlying Erlang platform has been known to achieve 99.9999999% (nine nines) reliability or (31 milliseconds of downtime per year).

Go follows the traditional defensive programming paradigms and assumes that exceptions will be handled directly. Processes that are killed due to a failure, or otherwise, must be restarted explicitly if the functionality is still required. Several syntactic constructs exist to facilitate fault handling, including the defer keyword and panic/recover.

With built-in resource alerts, automatic process respawning, process supervision strategies and node rediscovery, Elixir can, therefore, be considered more inherently fault tolerant than Go.

Concurrency

Both Go and Elixir derive CSP processes; a lightweight process methodology using very little memory. The Erlang VM uses only 618 bytes for a new raw process stack, while Go uses around 2 to 3 kilobytes. A typical raw Operating System process, used as a thread in many languages, will utilise at least one Megabyte or more of memory. Therefore, creating processes in either language is cheap on resources and make concurrent applications development very efficient.

Go concurrency focuses around Goroutines and Channels. A Goroutine is a function that can be elevated to a process status when invoked. Messages are passed in and out of processes using Channels.

Go Channels are first class message pipes that can be shared by one or more processes. "First class" means the Channel references can be passed into other functions and processes for consumption. Since Channels are shared, they contain their own mailboxes. This affords a greater amount of flexibility but at the cost of increased complexity.

func invoke(msg string) {
  fmt.Println(msg)
}
go invoke(“Within a new process”)

Go Channels can be considered a little like Events in other platforms and frameworks; you cannot guarantee who will receive the message. This provides greater flexibility but at a cost potential bugs in your applications.

A shared Channel in GoLang

A shared Channel in GoLang

Elixir concurrency follows the Actor model, which describes the notion of processing units that act on data messages. Messages are passed to processes and stored in the process mailbox. When one process sends data to another, the data is copied, meaning individual units of data cannot be modified by two processes, thus preventing data corruption. This suits Elixir as it is a Functional language.

Elixir processes are often derived from the GenServer, which is a contained module definition providing for easy management of incoming messages and state. However, like Go, Elixir also provides a means to create a process from a function invocation. Messages are passed by sending to the receiving processes PID (process id) which can exist on the local server or another server entirely; the Erlang VM makes this completely transparent.

spawn fn -> IO.puts(“within a new process”) end

Elixir messages are direct; they are sent to a specific process. While it is possible to set up a custom Events management system for anonymous message posting, the Elixir / Erlang platform favours safety over flexibility. Concurrency issues are less frequent in Elixir when compared to Go.

Message passing in Elixir

Message passing in Elixir

Further Reading

Here are some other topics worth exploring as you make your decision:

  • Web Servers: Go provides for building web servers out-of-the-box, while Elixir provides the Rails-like Phoenix framework.
  • Databases: Go was used to create InfluxDB, while the Riak NoSQL database was built with Erlang.

Elixir vs Go: What are the differences?

Elixir: Dynamic, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications. Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-latency, distributed and fault-tolerant systems, while also being successfully used in web development and the embedded software domain; Go: An open source programming language that makes it easy to build simple, reliable, and efficient software. Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.

Elixir and Go can be primarily classified as "Languages" tools.

"Concurrency", "Functional" and "Erlang vm" are the key factors why developers consider Elixir; whereas "High-performance", "Simple, minimal syntax" and "Fun to write" are the primary reasons why Go is favored.

Elixir and Go are both open source tools. Go with 60.4K GitHub stars and 8.36K forks on GitHub appears to be more popular than Elixir with 15.6K GitHub stars and 2.22K GitHub forks.

According to the StackShare community, Go has a broader approval, being mentioned in 901 company stacks & 606 developers stacks; compared to Elixir, which is listed in 177 company stacks and 190 developer stacks.

What is Elixir?

Elixir leverages the Erlang VM, known for running low-latency, distributed and fault-tolerant systems, while also being successfully used in web development and the embedded software domain.

What is Go?

Go is expressive, concise, clean, and efficient. Its concurrency mechanisms make it easy to write programs that get the most out of multicore and networked machines, while its novel type system enables flexible and modular program construction. Go compiles quickly to machine code yet has the convenience of garbage collection and the power of run-time reflection. It's a fast, statically typed, compiled language that feels like a dynamically typed, interpreted language.

Want advice about which of these to choose?Ask the StackShare community!

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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.
Clojure
Clojure is designed to be a general-purpose language, combining the approachability and interactive development of a scripting language with an efficient and robust infrastructure for multithreaded programming. Clojure is a compiled language - it compiles directly to JVM bytecode, yet remains completely dynamic. Clojure is a dialect of Lisp, and shares with Lisp the code-as-data philosophy and a powerful macro system.
Ruby
Ruby is a language of careful balance. Its creator, Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto, blended parts of his favorite languages (Perl, Smalltalk, Eiffel, Ada, and Lisp) to form a new language that balanced functional programming with imperative programming.
Rust
Rust is a systems programming language that combines strong compile-time correctness guarantees with fast performance. It improves upon the ideas of other systems languages like C++ by providing guaranteed memory safety (no crashes, no data races) and complete control over the lifecycle of memory.
Haskell
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What tools integrate with Elixir?
What tools integrate with Go?
    No integrations found
    Decisions about Elixir and Go
    No stack decisions found
    Interest over time
    Reviews of Elixir and Go
    Review ofElixirElixir

    i've give a try to Ruby, Crystal, Python and GO, and yeah, for web development i use Elixir-Phoenix, because idk why just amazing, my phoenix app is very stable (comparing to api that written in other language), Ruby is slow, Crystal has unstable API, GO, umm yeah, you need too complicated (i use golang for microservice)

    Avatar of tschellenbach
    CEO at Stream
    Review ofGoGo

    Go has been a joy to work with. Performance is often 30x of what we used to see with Python. It's a performant and productive programming language: https://getstream.io/blog/switched-python-go/

    How developers use Elixir and Go
    Avatar of Karma
    Karma uses GoGo

    The first time I actually started using Go was for software on our devices. So on our hotspots we have some custom software running in the firmware. For the first device, that was actually completely built by our manufacturer. But for the second generation most of the parts are built by us in-house and we needed a way to quickly develop software for the device. But we don't have any C programmers in-house, so we were actually looking for something that basically sits in between the friendliness of Ruby, but the performance and the ability to be deployed on an embedded system which you get with C. That's basically what led us to Go and it's been awesome for that. It works so well and so great. Since it works so great, it pushed us into looking into whether we should start using this for some backend services as well.

    Avatar of Flutter Health Inc.
    Flutter Health Inc. uses GoGo

    The following basic API endpoints are implemented on the server written in Go:

    • Authorization (Sign Up, Sign In)
    • Update user profile
    • Community: add post, like post, add comment, delete post, add reply to comment
    • Self-diagnosis: send data from the app to the server
    • Journal: send user data from the app to the server
    • Add groups of community
    • Report post, report comment, report reply
    • Block user
    Avatar of Zinc
    Zinc uses GoGo

    We wrote our own image processing, resizing, and snapshotting service in Go to allow our clients to send photos and GIFs to each other. Files are stored in S3, resized on the fly using OpenCV, and then cached in GroupCache before being served to clients.

    Go allows it all to be quite fast and efficient, and entirely non-blocking on uploads!

    Avatar of Diggernaut LLC
    Diggernaut LLC uses GoGo

    Our main web scraping engine is built usign Golang because of the way how efficiently and fast this language is. Also out compilation facility let people who dont know Golang build fast as flash scrapers to run ourside of our platform without any knowledge in programming in Golang.

    Avatar of Refractal
    Refractal uses GoGo

    For some of our more taxing parts of our applications, something able to handle high I/O load quickly and with fast processing is needed. Go has completely filled that gap, allowing us to break down walls that would've been completely impossible with other languages.

    Avatar of Provide Booking
    Provide Booking uses ElixirElixir

    Huge boon to productivity when coupled with Phoenix. Moreover, it has made background jobs and all the unseen aspects of a business easily abstracted.

    Avatar of Walter
    Walter uses ElixirElixir

    Knowledge collection, collation, and enrichment. Business logic.

    Avatar of Ruben Timmerman
    Ruben Timmerman uses ElixirElixir

    For some internal tools like our email deliverability monitor

    Avatar of Ryan Jennings
    Ryan Jennings uses ElixirElixir

    language used by phoenix framework

    Avatar of olenderhub
    olenderhub uses ElixirElixir

    Elixir and Phoenix are awesome.

    How much does Elixir cost?
    How much does Go cost?
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