When comparing Ruby vs Erlang, the Slant community recommends Ruby for most people. In the question“What is the best programming language to learn first?” Ruby is ranked 4th while Erlang is ranked 35th. The most important reason people chose Ruby is:
Ruby has a very clean syntax that makes code easier to both read and write than more traditional Object Oriented languages, such as Java. For beginning programmers, this means the focus is on the meaning of the program, where it should be, rather than trying to figure out the meaning of obscure characters. presidents = ["Ford", "Carter", "Reagan", "Bush1", "Clinton", "Bush2"] for ss in 0...presidents.length print ss, ": ", presidents[presidents.length - ss - 1], "\n"; end
Ranked in these QuestionsQuestion Ranking
Pro Clean syntax
Ruby has a very clean syntax that makes code easier to both read and write than more traditional Object Oriented languages, such as Java. For beginning programmers, this means the focus is on the meaning of the program, where it should be, rather than trying to figure out the meaning of obscure characters.
presidents = ["Ford", "Carter", "Reagan", "Bush1", "Clinton", "Bush2"] for ss in 0...presidents.length print ss, ": ", presidents[presidents.length - ss - 1], "\n"; end
Pro A large ecosystem of tools & libraries
Ruby has a large ecosystem of tools and libraries for just about every use. Such as ORMs (Active Record, DatabMapper), Web Application Frameworks(Rails, Sinatra, Volt), Virtualization Orchestration(docker-api, drelict), CLI tools(Thor, Commando), GUI Frameworks(Shoes, FXRuby) and the list goes on. If you can think of it, there is probably a gem for that ( and if not you can create your own and share with the community).
Pro Widely used
Ruby is one of the most popular languages for developing web sites. As a result, there's an abundant amount of documentation, sample code, and libraries available for learning the language and getting your project up and running. The most popular features are just 'gem install' away. Additionally, it is easier to find Ruby jobs because of this.
Pro Ruby on Rails
Lays out an easy to follow and opinionated MVC pattern that teaches best practices through necessity.
Pro Newbie-friendly community
Pro Hugely object oriented
Object oriented programming is one of the most important concepts in programming.
Pro Test Driven Development, #1
It's the fore-runner and trend setter for TDD.
Pro Built from the ground up with concurrency and distributed computing in mind
Erlang has strong roots with the telecom industry in which concurrent processes are normal. It's designed to be concurrent, to be used for distributed computing and to be scalable.
Fault tolerance means that a system has the property to continue operating even though one or more components have failed.
For Erlang systems, this means that the system is kept running even if for example a user has to drop a phone call rather than forcing everyone else to do so.
In order to achieve this, Erlang's VM gives you:
- Knowledge of when a process died and why that happened
- The ability to force processes to die together if they depend on each other and if one of them has a fault.
- A logger that logs every uncaught exception
- Nodes that can be monitored so that you find out when they go down
- The ability to restart failed processes (or groups of them)
Pro Upgrade code without stopping the system
In a real-time system it may not be possible to stop the system in order to implement code upgrades. For these cases Erlang gives you dynamic code upgrade support for free when using OTP. The mechanism is very easy to understand and works as follows:
- Start the app
- Edit the code
That's all that is needed, the app updates with the new code while it's still running and tests are run automatically.
Pro Great for writing distributed applications
Erlang is made to be parallel and distributed. Because it's very easy to write code that uses multiple processor cores, it's also very easy to write applications that span multiple servers.
Pro Battle proven
Erlang has been used in production for more than 20 years now. During that time it has proven itself over and over again that works great in both small startups and large-scale enterprise systems.
Erlang has been used extensively by Ericsson themselves. For example, the AXD301 ATM, which is one of Ericsson's flagships is probably the largest Erlang project ever with more than 1.1 million lines of Erlang code.
Pro Light processes
Erlang's processes have very little overhead (about 500 bytes per process). This means that a huge amount of processes can be created, even on older machines.
Pro Consistency across platforms
Erlang's processes run in a complete independent way from the OS (they aren't managed by the OS scheduler neither). This means that programs written in Erlang will run exactly the same way regardless of the operating system or platform.
Con Its ecosystem is limited outside of web development
If you're looking to host, generate, manipulate or secure a website, Ruby is your language. There's also some great support here for infrastructure as code work via Chef. However, it just doesn't have the depth and breadth that Python does. Things like native UI development, high performance math, and embedded / small footprint environments are barely supported at all in Ruby-space.
Con Meta-programming causes confusion for new developers
The ability for libraries to open classes and augment them leads to confusion for new developers since it is not clear who injected the functionality into some standard class.
In other words, if two modules decide to modify the same function on the same class can introduce a number of issues. Mainly, the order in which the modules are included matters. Since you more or less can't tell what kind of "helper" functions a module might write into any class, or for that matter, where the helper function was included from, you may sometimes wonder why class X can do Y sometimes but not at other times.
Requiring a library can change the rules of the language. This is very confusing for beginners.
Con No docstrings
It's hard to access Ruby's documentation from the REPL (irb), unlike Python, Lisp, and Smalltalk which let you ask functions how to use them, which is a great benefit to the beginner, and which also encourages you to document your program as you code it.
Con Arcane grammar based on Perl
Ruby is too complicated for beginners:
- arcane Perlisms;
- semi-significant whitespace;
- parentheses are not necessary around method arguments, except for sometimes they are;
- control constructs could be elegantly implemented with block like Smalltalk (Instead they're baked into the grammar.);
- verbose block syntax, unless it happens to be the last argument. (proc lambda).
- There are too many exceptional cases and arcane precedence rules.
Con More than one way to do it
A problem inspired by Perl. The core API interfaces are bloated. There's at least four different ways to define methods. More is not always better. Sometimes it's just more.
Con Dynamic type system
Majority of bugs could be resolved with types.
Con Viewed as a web development language
Despite its flexibility and performance, Ruby is often seen as being unsuitable for other tasks by those who are not familiar with it. As such, a lot of discussion about it centers around Rails, which is not at all relevant if you're using Ruby for something else, such as game development.
Con Does not teach you about data types
Since Ruby is a dynamically typed language, you don't have to learn about data types if you start using Ruby as your first language. Data types being one of the most important concepts in programming. This also will cause trouble in the long run when you will have to (inevitably) learn and work with a statically typed language because you will be forced to learn the type system from scratch.
Con Focus on Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)
Focussing on OOP in a beginner stage is an easy and popular plan, but not the best one.
Con Eccentric syntax
Erlang's syntax may feel very strange to 99% of programmers who have never used it. This is because it does not share any similarities or common syntax definitions that are found in all the other languages that are used today.
Con Useful in only one niche
Erlang is not really a general purpose language. It has a very special and well-defined niche where it towers above everything else. It's specialized in scalability and in distributed applications. Which is not necessarily a bad thing per se, but it still lacks and falls behind other languages when it needs to do things outside it's niche.