Should I learn Erlang for Web development?
Since its development by Joe Armstrong, Robert Virding, and Mike Williams in 1986 at the Ericsson Computer Science Laboratory, Erlang grew in popularity and usage in many software development fields.
But in recent times, its popularity and usage have decreased. According to statistics from w3techs.com, “Erlang is used by 0.1% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.”
A 2021 Stack Overflow survey revealed that Erlang is loved by 53.76% of professional developers versus 46.24% of professional developers who dreaded it. This show that Erlang is still loved and popular among professional developers.
The Erlang programming language is a general-purpose, concurrent, functional, and garbage-collected programming language, which also serves as a runtime system. Erlang was designed for use in massively scalable soft real-time systems with requirements on high availability.
Erlang is simple to learn than other programming languages like C, C++, or Java. Its syntax is easy to understand and there is a lot you can do in a few lines of code. Most importantly, making upgrades to the Erlang software does not require stopping the system.
WHAT IS ERLANG USED FOR?
Erlang is used in telecommunication systems, Game development, Instant messaging, Banking, E-commerce, web development, Fintech, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Healthcare, Embedded systems, automotive, etc. Erlang was used to code the popular instant messaging platform Whatsapp.
Although Erlang is not popular for web development projects, there are quite a number of Erlang-based web frameworks that you can use to make your web development process easy. These web frameworks include Chicago Boss, Zotonic, Nitrogen, Nova, Erlang Web, etc.
Erlang is used by quite a number of popular websites and companies, some of them include Meta, Samsung, T-Mobile, Vocalink, Nintendo, Goldman Sachs, SITA, OpenX, Nortel, BT Mobile, Grindr, Ericsson, and many others.
Since Erlang is not very popular for web development, you can use other alternatives for programming the server-side logic of your web applications. Learning Erlang for web development is not necessary, it is completely optional.
WHAT ARE ALTERNATIVES TO ERLANG FOR WEB DEVELOPMENT
There are many server-side programming languages that you can use as alternatives to Erlang. Here are some of the popular ones:
PHP is the most popular server-side programming language, it powers more websites on the internet than the rest of the server-side programming languages put together.
According to statistics from w3techs.com, “PHP is used by 77.5% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.” PHP website usage has been decreasing over the years, but it will take more than 25 years to decrease to 50% at the rate at which it is decreasing.
To make your development process easy, quick, and well structured, you can use PHP frameworks such as Laravel, Symfony, CodeIgniter, Slim, Zend, Phalcon, CakePHP, and many others.
PHP is used by many popular platforms and websites such as WordPress, Drupal, Wikipedia, Facebook, Slack, Etsy, Tumblr, MailChimp, etc. PHP is simple to work with and it is a great alternative to Erlang.
Python has an easy-to-understand syntax that makes it easy to write code, getting started with Python is very easy and straightforward. Python is used a lot by web developers for backend development. According to a 2021 Stack Overflow survey, Python is the third most used programming language by professional developers.
Python Django is one of the most popular web development frameworks, it was used to build part of the Instagram backend. Other python web frameworks that can be used in place of the Erlang include Flask, FastAPI, CherryPy, Falcon, etc.
Go is an open-source programming language supported by Google, Go is used in web development to power fast and scalable web applications. It is a good alternative to Erlang. Some of the companies using Go are shown in the image below
You can also use Java as an alternative to Erlang for server-side programming. Java is used by many websites, especially in the enterprise world. You can learn more about how Java is used in Web Development in our article DO YOU NEED JAVA FOR WEB DEVELOPMENT.
Since its invention in 1995 by Yukihiro “Matz” Matsumoto of Japan, Ruby has grown in popularity and usage to become the third most widely used server-side programming language after PHP and ASP.NET.
According to statistics from w3techs.com, “Ruby is used by 5.9% of all the websites whose server-side programming language we know.” Ruby usage for making websites has been decreasing over the years, but it is still one of the popular choices for many companies and startups.
Ruby is similar to Erlang in simplicity, its syntax is simple, elegant, and English-like, similar to that of Python. Getting started with Ruby and Ruby on Rails for web development is very easy and you will serve a lot of development time by using this language and its framework.
The popular online E-commerce store builder Shopify was written in Ruby (Ruby on Rails). Other popular websites using Ruby include Twitter, Github, Basecamp, Airbnb, Dribbble, Hulu, Kickstarter, Zendesk, Fiverr, SoundCloud, and many others.
There are many other alternatives to Erlang that I have not listed here. The availability and usage of many other powerful server-side programming languages and frameworks show that you can work on web development projects without using Erlang.
It can be seen that even though Erlang is used in web development, learning Erlang for web development is not necessary, you will be better off using other server-side programming languages.
It is worth noting that only 0.1% of all websites use Erlang, leaving a huge room for other server-side programming languages such as Python, C#, Ruby, Go, Scala, PHP, Java, etc.
If you want to make a website but you do not want to write any server-side or frontend code, you can use Website builders like WordPress, Shopify, .Bubble, Wix, Squarespace, etc. to do all the heavy lifting for you. You can make powerful websites without writing any line of code.