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Erlang, LFE, Joxa and Elixir: Established and Emerging Languages in the Erlang Ecosystem

Brian Troutwine (AdRoll)
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The Erlang language is hardly new. Despite success in its problem-nice, the language has not historically enjoyed a large community. Consistent with the rise of multi-core machines, however, more developers have begun to explore Erlang to meet their scalability challenges. Some have been turned off by the language’s syntax but excited enough about the basic technology to invent alternatives, adding both new expressiveness and familiarity into the ecosystem. Elixir has, in a relatively short time, attracted a vocal, enthusiastic and productive fan base.

This talk will address the strengths of Erlang-as-platform and discuss the relative merits of the most popular languages which target it. Challenges to adoption and possible future developments will be discussed.

  • Brief contextual history of telephony switches, relation to modern problem domains.
  • Erlang — Prehistory at Ericsson
  • Maturation of Erlang and VM through being open-sourced
  • Core Erlang vs. BEAM as compiler targets
  • LFE and Joxa: Erlang Lisps
  • Reia, prelude to Elixir, and Elixir
  • Merits and demerits of the various BEAM languages
  • Production experiences and recommendations
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Brian Troutwine


I’m a software engineer at AdRoll where I work on soft real-time system in Erlang. I deal with mission-critical systems that operate at large scale. Functional programming and Erlang in particular are my main areas of interest and I’m becoming increasingly interested in “large” embedded systems.

I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science from Portland State University. I spoke at Erlang Factory 2014, Bay Area.