Drinking the Elixir

schedule May 22nd 10:30 - 11:00 AM place Red Room people 75 Interested

Elixir is a functional language that's growing in popularity as a stepping stone into functional programming, thanks to its strengths in areas like concurrency, fault tolerance and scalability combined with a syntax that is simple to learn, and feels very familiar for those with experience of languages like Ruby or Python. However, it is a very different beast – a functional style, new tools, and Erlang and Elixir libraries to learn, and while many people are experimenting with it, it's not quite mainstream for apps in the wild yet.

Our Elixir journey began around two years ago, when we started breaking out parts of our monolith and rebuilding it as microservices in Elixir. It was a chance to introduce boundaries, and consider performance from the ground up for an application for which performance was starting to become a concern as the customer base was growing. This talk will tell the story of a journey into a new, functional language and discuss how we approached decisions around where to start breaking the monolith apart.

The talk will also cover some of the lessons we learned, including:
- How Elixir’s functional style made us think differently about writing code in other languages
- Moving from ExUnit to Espec and back again
- Tools such as umbrella apps that helped us to work with a group of Elixir microservices
- How we planned for performance from the beginning, and Elixir features that helped us with this such as GenServer
- Deployment strategies for the Elixir applications
- How the migration impacted different team members including front end developers

 
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Outline/Structure of the Talk

- Introduction

- Why we chose Elixir

- Concurrency & Fault Tolerance, why it was useful

- Syntax and familiarity, how it helped OO developers get up to speed quickly

- Performance, comparisons to other applications

- Elixir features & libraries that we loved (piping, pattern matching, immutability, ExUnit, Ecto, Umbrella apps, Gen flow)

- BUT: the error messages are terrible

- How the immaturity of the language bit us (testing frameworks, lack of docs, unexplained death of workers) and how we worked through it

- Learnings - adapting functional patterns to use in OO code, hiring

- Conclusion - where we are now

Learning Outcome

Understanding of the benefits of Elixir and why you might choose to learn it. For developers looking to get started with FP, learn why Elixir is a great starting point.

Target Audience

Anybody interested in learning about Elixir

Prerequisites for Attendees

Nothing.

schedule Submitted 1 year ago

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