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Table of contents
1.
Introduction
2.
Elixir Programming Language
3.
Elixir vs Erlang
4.
Uses of Elixir Programming Languages
5.
Application Concurrency in Elixir
6.
Features of Elixir
7.
Benefits of using Elixir
8.
Advantages
9.
Disadvantages
10.
Code for Elixir
10.1.
Basic Arithmetic
10.2.
Functions and Documentation
10.3.
Atoms
10.4.
Boolean
10.5.
Strings
10.6.
Lists
10.7.
Tuples
11.
Frequently Asked Questions
11.1.
What is Elixir?
11.2.
What are Modules?
11.3.
Which platform is used to run Elixir?
11.4.
What is Erlang?
11.5.
What is OTP in Elixir?
12.
Conclusion
Last Updated: Mar 27, 2024
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Elixir Programming - Introduction

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Introduction

Hello Ninja! Do you want to learn a new programming language? The Elixir programming language is something you should check out. You may already know about it if you are familiar with programming languages like JavaScript, Erlang, Python, GoLang, or C++

Introduction

In this article, we will learn about the Elixir programming language. We'll go over the Elixir language's syntax, use cases, tools, and much more as I guide you through it in this article. Let's begin!

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Elixir Programming Language

José Valim created the Elixir programming language. He wanted to develop a language compatible with the Erlang ecosystem that runs on top of Erlang's Virtual Machine. 

Elixir allows us to use all the robust tools that Erlang offers. It is a dynamically written, functional language. It is a ruby-like language. It runs on the Erlang virtual machine (Bogdan's Erlang Abstract Machine, BEAM). Hence, it is known for building distributed, fault-tolerant systems with low latency. 

Elixir Programming Language

You must be wondering what Erlang is. Let's find out by taking a look at a comparison between Erlang and Elixir.

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Elixir vs Erlang

Elixir and Erlang both share many similar features. However, these languages have specific applications and use cases.

Elixir vs Erlang

Let's look at the differences between Erlang and Elixir.

  • Versatility: A language is more versatile if it has a broader range of operators since they enable us to achieve more with less code. Erlang offers more operators and hence is more versatile than Elixir.
     
  • Flexibility: Erlang is less flexible than Elixir because Elixir permits multiple assignments to the same variable, whereas Erlang does not.
     
  • Reducing Errors: Elixir is designed to reduce the rate of programming errors, whereas Erlang does not reduce errors.
     
  • Documentations: Compared to Erlang, Elixir has more and better documentation.
     
  • Frameworks: Elixir users prefer to use the Phoenix framework. While on the other hand, Erlang users have many well-known frameworks to rely on, like Erlang OTP, Yaws, and Cowboy.
Elixir vs Erlang

Let's move further to discuss the uses of Elixir Programming Language.

Uses of Elixir Programming Languages

With the help of Elixir, we can develop fault-tolerant, scalable code for concurrent systems. Hence, it is ideal for systems that may need to handle many users effectively. 

Many well-known companies use Elixir, including:

  • Adobe
     
  • Discord 
     
  • Moz
     
  • The Financial Times
     
  • Motorola
     
  • WhatsApp
     
  • Heroku. 
Uses of Elixir Programming Languages

Application Concurrency in Elixir

Concurrency in the context of web development is when multiple users are trying to access a particular data block on your website. For example, if thousands of users are trying to access Elon Musk’s Twitter page at the same time, then concurrency is said to exist.

Another example in terms of mobile application is when hundreds of users are trying to access Billie Eilish’s Instagram page at once. It tries to solve the problem of application concurrency with a large number of users.

Features of Elixir

  1. Since it is built on the top of the Erlang virtual machine, it automatically has access to all the tools, features and functionalities Erlang has to offer. Since Erlang is scalable and reliable, Elixir too automatically becomes scalable and reliable
  2. Elixir and Ruby have similar functionalities and even a similar syntax and structure. However, one thing that Ruby failed to solve is concurrency and hence Ruby developers can easily transition into it making their web applications concurrent with enhanced performance.  
  3. It has all the features of a functional programming language. The feature of immutable data structures aid in improvising the concurrency of the application and the feature of pattern matching is highly utilised for code with declarative properties.

Benefits of using Elixir

  1. Elixir offers concurrency to your applications. Its applications can function on every machine and communicate with one another with the help of messages having simple syntax.
  2. Elixir applications are highly scalable. You can add as many user machines as you want and you can also enhance the performance of one particular machine by putting all the resources of a machine in a more optimised manner.
  3. Elixir applications are highly reliable. Erlang was built with enhanced fault tolerance capabilities. In simple terms, it means, if a part of your application fails, other mini processes can be restarted quickly and efficiently. This keeps your application up and running and does not make your application look like one with bugs and faults.

 

Advantages

Elixir programming language has various features, such as:

  • Its syntax is similar to that of Ruby. You will find Elixir quite familiar if you have worked with ruby before. 
     
  • Since Elixir is a dynamic programming language, all types are checked at runtime rather than during compilation.
     
  • It has tools for dependency management, remote debugging and other tasks.
     
  • Elixir has all the functional programming structures that you can anticipate. 
     
  • It is among the most potent modern languages since it has access to all the concurrency features that Erlang has.
     

Let's look at some of the disadvantages of the Elixir programming language.

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Disadvantages

Some of the disadvantages of the Elixir programming language are listed below:

  • There is less demand for Elixir programmers in the job market.
     
  • The number of libraries offered by it is limited. 
     
  • Elixir is a new programming language. Foreseeing this language's future and how it will develop is challenging.
     
  • You need to have a sound knowledge of Erlang to use Elixir efficiently.
     
  • Since most experienced engineers use object-oriented programming languages, switching to Elixir can take time and effort.
     

Now let us look into the coding part.

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Code for Elixir

Let's jump right into some basic Elixir code.

Basic Arithmetic

Open IEx and type the following code:

Basic Arithmetic

You'll notice that dividing eight by two yielded a float-type value of 4.0 rather than an integer value of 4. In Elixir, the "/" operator results in a float-type value. You can use the "div" function to divide an integer. You can also use "rem" to get the remainder of the division.  

div and rem function

When calling named functions with at least one argument, Elixir allows you to skip the parenthesis. This function will enable you to write code with a more precise syntax.

Calling named functions

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Functions and Documentation

In Elixir, we can identify functions by both their name and arity. The arity of a function tells the number of arguments it accepts. For ex., trunc/1 refers to a function named trunc that takes one argument.

You can also get function documentation using the "h" function, defined by the Elixir shell. 

For example:

Functions and Documentation

Atoms

An atom is a constant with its name as its value. If the names of the atoms are the same, then they are equal. You begin writing an atom with a colon, followed by a string of characters, numbers, underscores, and @ signs. Some valid atoms are:

Atoms

You can use inverted commas while defining an atom. it will be valid, but it is not required.

Boolean

In the Elixir programming language, true and false values are booleans. Booleans are atoms, but you can skip the leading ":" when using true, false, or nil.

Boolean

Strings

In Elixir, strings are encoded in UTF-8. We declare strings like this:    

Strings

Lists

A list (also known as "Linked Lists") of values can be specified in Elixir using square brackets. Even though it looks like an array in Elixir, it is not. 

Lists

As you can see, list items can be of any data type.

Tuples

We use curly brackets to define tuples. Just like lists, tuples can store values of any data type. Elements are stored at contiguous memory locations in the case of tuples, unlike lists. Indexes in tuples start from zero.

Tuples

Hope you have learned a lot about the Elixir programming language. Now move into some FAQs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Elixir?

Elixir is a functional and dynamic programming language that runs on BEAM. It is used for building scalable and maintainable applications.

What are Modules?

Modules are used in Elixir to group functions into a namespace.

Which platform is used to run Elixir?

Elixir runs on BEAM which is famous for building distributed, fault-tolerant systems with low latency.

What is Erlang?

Erlang is a functional programming language and a runtime environment.

What is OTP in Elixir?

OTP is a collection of Elixir libraries that offers a framework for creating distributed, fault-tolerant, and concurrent systems.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the Elixir programming language, its uses, its benefits, and its basic implementation.

We hope this article helps you on your journey. There's much more about the programming language for you to learn. You can find more information in the following articles:

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