Embedded Systems in Elixir vs. C, C++, and Java with Connor Rigby & Taylor Barto

About this Episode

Published November 16, 2023 | Duration: 46:30 | RSS Feed | Direct download
Transcript: English

This week on Elixir Wizards, Connor Rigby, Software Engineer at SmartRent, and Taylor Barto, Lead Embedded Software Engineer at Eaton, join Sundi Myint to compare notes on embedded systems development with Elixir, C, C++, and Java. They discuss using Elixir and the Nerves framework for firmware projects versus more traditional choices like C. The guests ask one another questions and gain valuable insights into challenges, tooling, resources, and more across different embedded ecosystems.

In this episode, the guests expand their perspectives and demystify the concept of embedded systems for engineers outside the field. This cross-language exchange of ideas and experiences inspires continued learning and collaboration between embedded software engineers using different programming languages.

Topics Discussed:

  • Defining "true embedded": using an operating system vs. bare metal programming
  • Benefits and drawbacks of Elixir, C, C++, and Java for firmware
  • Many embedded systems today use Java as the programming language via Java Native Interface (JNI) to interface with C/C++ code
  • How Elixir expands the toolbox available for firmware projects
  • Testing, tooling, workflows, and debugging across languages
  • Elixir/Nerves features like hot code reloading and testing vs. Java alternatives
  • Learning curves for new languages and frameworks
  • Industry trends around established vs emerging tools
  • Applying functional programming principles like immutability in new domains
  • Scaling firmware updates across large connected networks
  • Continued maturation of Nerves may bring Elixir into consideration for roles where Java is commonly used today
  • Hardening systems for reliability in safety-critical uses
  • Debugging differences between web development and embedded
  • Hiring considerations for niche languages
  • Additional skills needed for embedded engineers, such as technical writing, reading schematics, and writing test instructions
  • Resources and recommendations for getting started with embedded systems

Links Mentioned:

Nerves: https://github.com/nerves-project/nerves
AtomVM: https://github.com/atomvm/AtomVM
GRiSP: https://github.com/grisp
RISC-V: https://github.com/ultraembedded/riscv
Zig Programming Language: https://github.com/ziglang
Docker: https://github.com/docker
Build a Weather Station with Elixir and Nerves by Alexander Koutmos, Bruce A. Tate, Frank Hunleth
Build a Binary Clock with Elixir and Nerves by Frank Hunleth and Bruce A. Tate

Special Guests: Connor Rigby and Taylor Barto.

Transcript (English):