Tam Kbeili describes himself as “part entrepreneur, part programmer.” He is a CTO at Aplicar and joined VanHackCON 2021 to talk about two interesting and relatively new coding languages, Phoenix and Elixir. Kbeili used these languages to build products for his companies Aplicar and CodeCast, which means he has lots of experience. Let’s learn from him! 🚀

Building High-Performance Applications with Elixir & Phoenix

Photo by Greta Hoffman via Pexels

The advantages of writing with Elixir

Elixir is a functional, compiling, general-purpose programming language created in 2012. It builds on top of Erlang, with which it shares abstractions for application building. So when you write a code with Elixir, it runs on Erlang’s virtual machine BEAM. Taking advantage of all Erlang can do, Elixir is a much more friendly language. “It’s fast, elegant, and approachable. You can look at a line of code and understand right away what it does”, says Kbeili. He believes we will see a lot more being done with functional languages because it makes parallel programming easier. Parallel programming, in its turn, is getting more popular as developers take advantage of multicore machines.

The CTO notes that one downside to Elixir is that it may seem more complicated on the surface. Using an example with Ecto, Kbeili shows how the code looks longer but explains that it is worth it to avoid side effects. “Even though it is more verbose and you have to write more to achieve the same thing, in the long run, it pays off.”

Creating with Phoenix

Phoenix is a framework to rapidly write web applications within the Elixir ecosystem using MCV architecture. Even if the language is heavily inspired by Rails, Kbeili believes you can do a lot more with Phoenix because it combines the patterns from Rails, functional programming, and high performance. Another positive aspect of Phoenix is that it has well-tested and well-maintained packages for the most popular uses of web applications, so you don’t have to build much from scratch.

“When it comes to building web apps, Phoenix is much better than other frameworks that you could find out there, so it wouldn’t hurt for you to spin off a simple ‘hello, world,’ or a simple app, and just compare the performance for yourself,” the CTO suggests. And if you find it difficult or get stuck in the process, you may find assistance from other developers who have also taken up the challenge. “Phoenix has an awesome and growing community with helpful and responsive people!”, Kbeili says. “You google up any problem, and you will very likely find an answer on forums or StackOverflow.”

Opportunities on the rise

Elixir and Phoenix are not yet famous despite all their advantages, so studying these languages could be an exciting choice for programmers looking to update their skills. “If you enjoy this language, this could present an opportunity for you, for something to specialize in and stand out with,” he says. 

And if you want one more final motivation to learn more about these languages, here it goes: CodeCast and Aplicar will be hiring in 2022!

Watch Tam Kbeili’s talk here:

Code Cast – https://www.codecast.io/

Aplicar – https://www.aplicar.io/ 

Visit www.vanhack.com/candidates to be one of our many VanHackers hired 🙂

For success stories and tips about working in Canada, check out the VanHack Podcast – https://anchor.fm/vanhack

Learn more about Premium Academy at www.vanhack.com/premium


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