Phoenix vs. Laravel

Any experiences on the topic? Anyone ditched Laravel in favor of Phoenix/Elixir?

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I haven’t ditched Laravel but I have heavy investments in both camps. Phoenix isn’t really 1:1, it’s closer to a Sinatra where something like Rails has more overlap with Laravel. You get different primitives with the BEAM where you don’t need to reach for something like Redis since ETS is right there. Oban is arguably a better queue processor than what Laravel gives you but Laravel also gives you Horizon. You can work out some intricate workflows in either system. It may be user error but I don’t have a clear look at what jobs are actively running in Horizon where I have more tools to monitor Oban. I haven’t tried recreating my most difficult workflows from Laravel to know how those pain points measure up.

You can piece together a few dependencies to get you close experiences I’d imagine. There is also a difference in underlying behavior.

Dependencies are a liability in any system but in Laravel I’m more of a conductor, gluing fairly robust packages together to rapidly focus on the business need. I’ve maybe “chosen poorly” for a problematic package very few times since starting with it in 2017. With Elixir it’s generally easy to spin up an API client on top of Req as opposed to finding a poorly maintained SDK, with the exception of Stripe and Spotify so far. There is no Spatie equivalent dropping a ton of high quality in one place but there is some very high quality in the ecosystem.

Laravel is also a layer higher or tends to stay there. I believe it started by pulling a lot from Symfony to slowly get replaced by Illuminate APIs. Phoenix acts as a thin layer on Plug on purpose. There are parts of something like Ash that is also appealing from a reduction of boilerplate perspective.

This is all over the place like my experience so far. I haven’t rebuilt major systems to have the biggest sample size but given enough time and energy there isn’t anything I’ve missed in a major way. I am looking to see if something like Jetstream can be ported because scaffolding an application shell takes a lot of boilerplate that I get really tired of doing as often as it requires. 1.7 and core components are a great start but I need a bit less friction.

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I don’t disagree, but to be fair, I’d compare bare bone Plug more to Sinatra… whereas when people refer to Phoenix most of the time they mean Phoenix + PhoenixHTML + Phoenix.LiveView + Phoenix.PubSub + Swoosh + Ecto + … on Elixir

Which, I think includes enough batteries to be on par with a regular PHP Laravel / Ruby on Rails project.

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I was primarily building stuff with laravel before moving to Phoenix several years ago. I’m not very hands-on up to date with laravel since about v5 but I still keep an eye on things. I

originally looked elsewhere because I was doing a fair bit of real-time/websocket stuff and I always had to reach outside of PHP and laravel to do that anyways. And I was interested in the mental model of functional programming - or at least the very basics of it - as compared to OOP. Functional just felt so much more direct and easier for me to reason about, personally.

My general thoughts on Phoenix vs Laravel, in no particular order:

  • Laravel has an incredible suite of features and products to go along with the base, all of which are remarkably cohesive with unusually high attention paid to detail and devx. That’s very hard for any language or framework that I’ve come across to beat.
  • PHP has made a lot of improvements over time and is quite a pleasant language to deal with these days, despite age old memes.
  • Fundamentally, at the lower and middle levels of abstraction, I think Elixir is a better language in most ways. Not because PHP is bad, but because Elixir/Erlang are just an incredible confluence of CS ideas that work very well together, have been steadily refined for decades, and make some really hard things very easy. Things that are increasingly becoming more important over time, like concurrency, distributed computing, reliability guarantees (maybe not literally, but practically) etc.
  • Elixir and Phoenix’s feature set for real-time is much, much better in my opinion.
  • The building blocks for things like caching, background processing, and many more are much better in Elixir and Phoenix. Laravel’s packaged solutions for these are still better out of the box because of the care and effort put into them, but I think we are close on many of those and it’s just generally a lot easier for us to build them.
  • The biggest difference I notice between laravel and Phoenix on a daily basis is that it’s sometimes easier to get the common app stuff up and running more quickly on Laravel (CRUD, auth, integrations) but not way easier. And when I need to dig deep on stuff, I personally find Elixir and Phoenix to be more powerful and flexible, in a way that’s very easy for a solo dev to build them.
  • It’s a pretty close comparison in my head, which says a lot about the high quality of Laravel, because I feel pretty strongly about how amazing Elixir and Phoenix are.
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@carterbryden @w0rd-driven @RudManusachi

Thank you very much for sharing. That would help me make my future decisions. Personally, I like them both. Despite my limited development experience in Elixir and Phoenix (only with small projects), I would choose it over Laravel especially if the project has real time and high concurrency needs.

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