What is Elixir and who uses it?

What is elixir and what is it used for?

First introduced in 2012, Elixir is a general-purpose, functional language designed for building scalable and maintainable applications. Elixir has a similar syntax to the Ruby on Rails development framework and complies with the bytecode seen on the Erlang VM (aka BEAM). Elixir provides developers with high availability, adaptability, and scalability without really affecting performance.

What are some programs built on elixir?

WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have seen great success by using an Erlang-powered stack that helps them process over 50 billion messages per day with greater than 99.9% uptime. This success has helped push Elixir to the forefront and those that do adopt it will see the same benefits for applications built on Erlang but will receive a modern toolchain (app configuration, dependency management, build tool, test running, REPL).

Pinterest has seen huge wins with Elixir and is releasing open-source tools: Introducing new open-source tools for the Elixir community

An excerpt (emphases Peter Marreck): “The system that manages rate limits for both the Pinterest API and Ads API is built in Elixir. Its 50 percent response time is around 500 microseconds with a 90 percent response time of 800 microseconds. Yes, microseconds. We’ve also seen an improvement in code clarity. We’re converting our notifications system from Java to Elixir. The Java version used an Actor system and weighed in at around 10,000 lines of Java code. The new Elixir system has shrunk this to around 1000 lines. The Elixir based system is also faster and more consistent than the Java one and runs on half the number of servers.”

Bleacher Report has also seen benefits from Elixir. Previously using a Ruby on Rails framework, they made the upgrade which allowed them to reduce the number of required servers from 150 to just 5 and handle 8 times the traffic.

Want to learn more about Elixir and how to use it? LEARN graduate Fiona Voss will be presenting at LEARN sessions on May 17th, 2018. RSVP on our Meetup page.



  1. “This is why you should learn the Elixir programming language” https://www.siliconrepublic.com/advice/elixir-programming-language-career
  2. Why Elixir? https://github.com/bignerdranch/why_elixir
  3. What big projects use Elixir? https://www.quora.com/What-big-projects-use-Elixir