Choosing Between Elixir Java Kotlin


In the ever-evolving landscape of programming languages, choosing the right one for your project can significantly impact the success of your application. Elixir, Java, and Kotlin are three notable languages that cater to different needs and paradigms. These languages are widely used in different spheres such as scalable web applications, enterprise software development, and mobile app development.

Selecting the appropriate language can save time, resources, and unnecessary headaches, especially as the complexity of the project grows. Whether you are building a web-scale service, an Android application, or an enterprise-grade software solution, each of these languages offers unique advantages and poses different challenges.

This article aims to compare Elixir, Java, and Kotlin across various parameters including syntax, performance, ecosystem, and tooling to help you make an informed decision. By diving deep into their features, we will uncover which language best fits your specific use-case scenario, whether it’s scalability, robustness, or modern syntactic features.

Elixir Overview

Elixir is a functional, concurrent language built on the Erlang VM (BEAM), which was introduced in 2011 by José Valim. The language was created with a primary focus on concurrency, fault-tolerance, and distributed computing. Elixir’s ability to handle numerous concurrent processes with minimal resource consumption makes it a strong candidate for scalable web applications and microservices.

One of the strengths of Elixir is its highly-readable syntax, inspired by Ruby. This makes it relatively easy for developers familiar with Ruby to pick up Elixir. The language takes advantage of the Erlang VM’s capabilities for high availability and fault tolerance, which are critical aspects in distributed systems. Elixir is particularly well-known for the Phoenix framework, which brings high performance and real-time web functionality.

Elixir supports immutability and higher-order functions, which are crucial concepts in functional programming. This results in safer, more predictable code. The concurrency model in Elixir is based on the Actor model using lightweight processes. These processes are isolated, run concurrently, and communicate via message passing, which makes the language inherently concurrent and scalable.

Java Overview

Java is one of the most widely-used, high-level, object-oriented languages. Created in 1995 by Sun Microsystems, Java has evolved over the years to become the backbone of many enterprise applications, large-scale web services, and Android app development. The main strength of Java lies in its portability, thanks to the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). This “Write Once, Run Anywhere” capability ensures that Java applications can run on any device equipped with a JVM, making it a universally accepted language.

Java’s syntax is influenced by C and C++, but it mitigates the complexity associated with these languages, offering a relatively easier learning curve. Java is well-known for its robustness. It handles memory management through automatic garbage collection, reducing the risk of memory leaks and boosting application stability. Additionally, Java enforces strong typing and offers powerful development tools and debugging utilities.

Java features a rich ecosystem with a plethora of libraries and frameworks such as Spring and Hibernate, which streamline the development of robust, high-performance applications. Over the years, the language has continually evolved to include modern features like Lambdas and the Stream API for functional-style operations, keeping it relevant and efficient for contemporary development practices.

Kotlin Overview

Kotlin, introduced by JetBrains in 2011, is a statically-typed language designed to be fully interoperable with Java, while fixing some of Java’s limitations. Kotlin has quickly gained traction, especially in Android development, because it brings a more concise syntax and improved safety features, effectively addressing many of Java’s shortcomings.

One of Kotlin’s standout features is its interoperability with Java. Kotlin code can call Java functions seamlessly and vice versa, allowing developers to gradually migrate existing Java codebases to Kotlin. This can be particularly useful for projects looking to modernize their codebase without a complete rewrite. Kotlin incorporates modern programming features such as null safety, extension functions, and a more expressive standard library, which enhances developer productivity and reduces the risk of runtime errors.

Kotlin also supports both object-oriented and functional programming paradigms. This flexibility allows developers to pick whichever approach best suits their problem domain. The language’s concise and readable syntax not only reduces boilerplate code but also makes it easier to read and maintain. Kotlin’s popularity is further bolstered by first-class support in Android Studio and standout frameworks like Ktor for building asynchronous servers and clients.

Syntax and Code Examples

Basic Syntax


# Hello World
IO.puts "Hello, World!"

# Data Types
a_integer = 42
a_string = "Elixir"

# Control Structures
if a_integer > 40 do
  IO.puts "The number is large"
  IO.puts "The number is small"


// Hello World
public class HelloWorld {
    public static void main(String[] args) {
        System.out.println("Hello, World!");

// Data Types
int aInteger = 42;
String aString = "Java";

// Control Structures
if (aInteger > 40) {
    System.out.println("The number is large");
} else {
    System.out.println("The number is small");


// Hello World
fun main() {
    println("Hello, World!")

// Data Types
val aInteger: Int = 42
val aString: String = "Kotlin"

// Control Structures
if (aInteger > 40) {
    println("The number is large")
} else {
    println("The number is small")

Functional vs Object-Oriented


# Pattern Matching
{a, b} = {1, 2}

# Functions
defmodule Math do
  def add(a, b) do
    a + b

# Modules
defmodule Greetings do
  def hello do
    IO.puts "Hello, Elixir!"


// Classes
public class Math {
    public int add(int a, int b) {
        return a + b;

// Inheritance
public class AdvancedMath extends Math {
    public int multiply(int a, int b) {
        return a * b;

// Interfaces
public interface Greeting {
    void sayHello();

public class EnglishGreeting implements Greeting {
    public void sayHello() {


// Classes
class Math {
    fun add(a: Int, b: Int): Int {
        return a + b

// Inheritance
class AdvancedMath : Math() {
    fun multiply(a: Int, b: Int): Int {
        return a * b

// Extension Functions
fun String.hello() {
    println("Hello, $this!")



# Processes
pid = spawn(fn -> IO.puts "Hello from a process!" end)
IO.inspect Process.alive?(pid)

# Message Passing
send self(), {:hello, "world"}
receive do
  {:hello, msg} -> IO.puts msg


// Threads
Thread thread = new Thread(() -> System.out.println("Hello from a thread!"));

// Executors
import java.util.concurrent.Executors;
import java.util.concurrent.ExecutorService;
ExecutorService executor = Executors.newFixedThreadPool(2);
executor.execute(() -> System.out.println("Task 1"));
executor.execute(() -> System.out.println("Task 2"));


import kotlinx.coroutines.*

// Coroutines
runBlocking {
    launch {
        println("Hello from a coroutine!")

// Suspend Functions
suspend fun printMessage() {
    println("Message from suspend function")
runBlocking {

Performance and Scalability

When it comes to performance and scalability, each language has its unique characteristics influenced by its underlying architecture and runtime environment.

Memory Management is crucial for application performance. Elixir utilizes garbage collection provided by the Erlang VM, which is highly optimized for distributed systems with numerous lightweight processes. This results in consistent, low-latency performance even under high load. Java, on the other hand, has its own mature garbage collection mechanisms that have been optimized over decades. These Garbage Collectors (GC) like G1 and ZGC offer efficient memory management, making Java suitable for applications that require low-latency and high throughput. Kotlin inherits Java’s garbage collection mechanism, offering similar performance characteristics.

Execution Speed varies based on the nature of the application. Java’s Just-In-Time (JIT) compiler enhances execution speed by optimizing bytecode during runtime, making it generally faster for CPU-intensive tasks in single-threaded environments. Elixir may have some overhead due to its functional nature and concurrency management, but it excels under scenarios involving numerous concurrent processes. Kotlin’s performance is largely similar to Java, thanks to its compilation to Java bytecode, ensuring negligible performance differences in real-world applications.

Scalability is another critical factor. Elixir, designed for distributed systems, shines in scenarios that require handling numerous simultaneous connections or processes efficiently. Its concurrency model based on the Actor model ensures excellent scalability. Java also boasts impressive scalability, particularly for large-scale web applications, thanks to its robust threading model and extensive frameworks. Kotlin, leveraging coroutines, offers an efficient and straightforward model for developing scalable applications without the complexity traditionally associated with multithreading.

Ecosystem and Libraries

A language’s ecosystem and the availability of libraries and frameworks play a pivotal role in adoption and productivity.

Elixir’s Ecosystem might not be as broad as Java’s, but it punches above its weight with high-quality libraries and frameworks tailored for web development and concurrent applications. The Phoenix framework, for instance, is a powerful tool for building scalable web applications. Further, Elixir’s tooling, like Mix for project management and ExUnit for testing, provides a comprehensive development experience.

Java’s Ecosystem is one of the richest, with a vast array of libraries and frameworks addressing nearly every conceivable use-case. Frameworks like Spring Boot streamline the development of robust and performant backend applications. Hibernate simplifies database interactions by providing a powerful, object-relational mapping (ORM) framework. The maturity and diversity of Java’s ecosystem make it a go-to language for enterprise-grade applications.

Kotlin’s Ecosystem has rapidly expanded since its inception, driven by its full interoperability with Java. Android development has seen a significant shift towards Kotlin, supported by Google’s official endorsement. Beyond Android, frameworks like Ktor for building asynchronous servers and clients, and kotlinx.serialization for JSON parsing, extend Kotlin’s utility to server-side development. The existing Java ecosystems and libraries can be seamlessly integrated into Kotlin projects, providing a robust foundation for Kotlin development.

Tooling and Development Experience

The quality of tooling and overall development experience can significantly influence a developer’s productivity and satisfaction.

Elixir offers excellent support with tools like Mix, which simplifies project management and task automation, and IEx, the interactive Elixir shell. The language’s excellent documentation and supportive community further enhance the development experience. Tools like Observer provide insights into the performance and behavior of running applications, which is invaluable for debugging and optimization.

Java boasts some of the industry’s most robust Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, and VS Code. These IDEs offer powerful refactoring capabilities, debugging tools, and extensive plugin ecosystems that significantly streamline development. Java’s long history ensures that developers have access to extensive documentation, forums, and third-party tools that cover every aspect of software development.

Kotlin enjoys first-class support in Android Studio and IntelliJ IDEA, both products from JetBrains. This makes Android development particularly pleasant, with features like real-time compilation, intelligent code suggestions, and extensive debugging tools. Kotlin’s concise syntax and modern language features also reduce boilerplate code, making it easier to read and maintain, further enhancing the development experience. Tools and libraries initially built for Java can be directly used in Kotlin projects, ensuring a smooth transition and extended functionality.


Each language has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, making them suitable for different types of applications.

Elixir stands out in scenarios that demand high concurrency, fault tolerance, and distributed computing. Its unique features make it ideal for real-time applications, microservices, and scalable web platforms.

Java remains a robust and universal choice, particularly for enterprise-grade applications, large-scale web services, and backend systems. Its rich ecosystem, strong typing, and extensive community support continue to make it a reliable choice for a wide range of applications.

Kotlin offers modern syntactic sugar and seamless Java interoperability, making it a preferred choice for Android development and modern JVM applications. Its concise syntax, null safety, and coroutine support bring significant productivity and safety benefits.

Depending on your use case, these languages provide powerful features tailored to different domains. For web-scale services, Elixir is a strong choice; for enterprise applications, Java remains reliable; for Android development and modern JVM applications, Kotlin is a go-to. Knowing the specific strengths and fitting a language to your problem domain can streamline development and lead to more successful outcomes.