Go vs Elixir: which one has more promising future as in 2016?

Career, Uncategorized / Monday, August 1st, 2016

The question was asked on Quora some time back, and as can be expected of Quora, has some very good answers. However, I feel differently about this topic. The key question is not Go vs. Elixir (or Scala vs. Clojure, or anything else, for that matter), but predicting technology success.

Who could have thought that a language as elephantine as Java would see such a massive upswing? Or that JavaScript (the language that everyone hates) will virtually start dominating the Web (to start losing to Go and Erlang, eventually)?

Nobody can predict which technology will win, either in the short run or in the long run. My answer on Quora, therefore, focused on a much more important issue. It is reproduced here:

Have you ever considered that we spend an enormous amount of energy worrying and reading comparisons of languages? If we were to put the same amount of energy learning the languages we worry about, we’d have many more answers and will be better placed professionally.

How much time will it take to learn Go? It’s a small language, so I bet it won’t take more than a couple weeks to get going. Then, spending even five hours every week will keep you progressing. A little longer with Elixir, but at the end of the day it’s just another programming language.

Your question is valid, and I too spend a great deal of time seeking such answers, but perhaps we are better placed if we start learning the languages and paradigms we are apprehensive about.

I’m myself guilty of flouting the advice I dished out. I spend anywhere from 2 to 20 hours every week working on my paranoia. I want to make sure that the databases, programming languages and frameworks I have selected are the best in the class, and will be used for at least 50 years in future. I want to be told that the I won’t have to learn another language; that the language I know is a sure-shot solution to all kinds of problems. I want to be sure that I will be making a lot of money in future.

Unfortunately, there are no guarantees in life. Technologies will keep swinging, and sometimes wildly. Your love for Scheme will not save you, because your next employer will be Erlang-heavy. The hours you spend on Angular are useless, because your client insists on Ember. Not to mention the odd requirement that demands deep knowledge of browser-specific JavaScript.

That’s just the way a programmer’s life is. I think the best we can do is start learning everything that bothers us. The pace will be slow, sure, but I bet we will become five times better than we are.

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