Moving to Microservices: Top 5 Languages to Choose From
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- 9 min
- Apr 11, 2019
More and more developers are using microservice architectures, since a combination of small services ensures cohesive functioning of large and complex apps. Many famous tech companies including Amazon, Spotify, Walmart, Twitter, and Netflix have moved to microservices.
When it comes to microservices development, a natural question is what language to choose. In this article, we consider the top languages for microservices. But first, let’s review the criteria for choosing one.
Criteria for choosing a language for writing microservices
These are characteristics that a programming language must have for efficiently implementing microservices:
- Culture of automation
- Independent deployment
- Consumer-first approach
- Modelled around business domain
- Culture of continuous integration
- Highly observable
- Decentralization of components
- Implementation details hidden
Along with these criteria, you should also pay attention to this advice about how to choose a proper microservices programming language:
- Choose a language that simplifies coding. It’s better to avoid C languages if you want to have a reliable service.
- Don’t use VM-based languages (namely Clojure, Erlang, or Elixir). Languages that run on virtual machines are slow to start and use a lot of memory.
- Give preference to a language that allows you to create static binaries. Using static binaries reduces image size, avoiding constant updating.
- Pay attention to speed. Choose a language that’s fast at responding to requests and able to manage a lot of traffic. For example, Python is a bad choice for a project that requires a lot of traffic and high scalability.
These are general criteria that you should pay attention to when choosing a language to build microservices. However, it’s worth considering all the pros and cons of particular languages. Let’s consider each of the top languages for microservices in more detail.
Go, or Golang, is popular today for developing microservices. Products written in Go can handle heavy loads, enabling developers to create apps with high-loaded services. This language provides a simple and logical syntax that’s easily understood by other developers.
Go provides great speed and support for concurrency. Concurrency considerably improves the efficiency of using several cores and machines. In addition, Go provides a powerful standard library for creating web services.
Go also provides a microservices architecture that contains independent components providing business capabilities. Its strict division into modules allows a microservices architecture to handle the continuous delivery of large and complex apps.
By using a package system, Go let developers produce and implement products fast, avoiding building heavy and time-consuming frameworks. This simplicity lowers overall costs and enables many companies to develop microservices.
Unfortunately, there are some pitfalls with Go. It’s worth mentioning that since Go is still a young language and is still developing, it can be difficult to make full use of the libraries. In addition, absence of manual memory management can lead to issues like pauses, and overhead garbage collection. Moreover, runtime safety isn’t good enough. Safety is only checked during compile-time and to a certain extent runtime. So Go concentrates on speed of production rather than safety.
Final thoughts on Go
If you’re starting a new project or you need to improve an existing product, Go is a good choice. Go's disadvantages are few in comparison with its advantages. It allows developers to create complicated and large applications quickly. Go can manage 1000 concurrent requests per second. Whether to choose Go for your microservices project depends on your goals.
According to the TIOBE Index, Java is the most popular language in 2019. And there’s a reason for that. It provides many programming resources and libraries. In addition, it’s easy to find Java developers, and there are many cloud providers who can scale Java-based microservices.
Java is great for writing microservices. Among other reasons, its annotation syntax is easy to read. Java annotations make writing microservices much easier, especially when powered by a framework like Spring Boot. There’s a lot of value in readability, especially when it comes to working on complex systems.
In addition, the JVM is a great platform that provides developers with the opportunity to use a different language elsewhere. For example, the JVM allows you to use Groovy for building with Gradle or testing with Spock. The beauty of the Java-style microservice architecture is that it makes it easy for developers to experiment with other languages or frameworks without making a heavy investment.
Final thoughts on Java
Java isn’t a silver bullet, and it isn’t the right solution for every project. However, it’s stable, it provides mature tooling, and there’s wide availability of Java talent. Notably, frameworks like Spring Boot are well established and provide great functionality. Of course, it all boils down to what works and is applicable to your particular problem.
Python is a versatile language: it’s easy to learn, good for experimenting, allows developers to write clean indented code, and, being an interpreted language, it can quickly get changes up and running. This is why Python is one of the five most popular languages to learn.
Developers use Python to build all kinds of applications, from simple system scripts that execute tasks on a server to large and complex object-oriented applications that provide services for millions of users.
One of the advantages of Python is that it helps developers think clearly while coding, thus making code easier to maintain. This reduces the cost of product maintenance. Another advantage of Python is that no bug can originate a segmentation fault. Moreover, Python’s strong process integration features, unit testing framework, and enhanced control capabilities lead to great speed and performance.
However, there are some disadvantages. For example, Python has a slow execution speed in comparison with C and C++. This is because it works with an interpreter, not the compiler. Another disadvantage is that the language has lots of design limits and requires a lot of testing time. Python developers can only see bugs during runtime. Moreover, Python has high memory consumption and unfortunately is not used in web browsers due to its lack of security.
Final thoughts on Python
Python is a simple and approachable programming language that provides strong support for integration with other technologies, is easy to maintain, and ensures high productivity across the development life cycle. But just like any programming language, Python is not a perfect fit for all projects. It’s a good choice for developing automated build, data analysis, and machine learning systems.
C++ is a programming language with imperative and object-oriented features that help developers write fast, portable programs. Its object-oriented features put the main focus on objects and manipulations around these objects. Along with those advantages, there are some pitfalls. For example, C++ doesn’t support garbage collection. Moreover, there’s no built-in support for threads.
But that’s irrelevant given its speed. C++ is fast, and it provides excellent concurrency support. That’s why C++ is especially popular in areas where performance is crucial. Also, the compilation time and execution time of C++ is much faster than most other programming languages.
Final thoughts on C++
C++ provides developers with a tremendous amount of flexibility thanks to its sophisticated features. C++ syntax is simple, which allows developers to develop smoothly; even errors can be easily replicated. C++ is used everywhere, but it plays a key role in automotive applications, database servers, robotics, and appliances.
According to the RedMonk rating, Ruby is one of the fifteen most popular programming languages. This is due to its flexibility, development speed, scalability, and code quality. In addition, Ruby is an object-oriented language with great features such as support for all major platforms, compatibility with other languages, garbage collection, and inheritance.
Taking into account the speed, efficiency, and available software resources, Ruby is an enterprise-friendly language. However, despite the high speed of development, it’s important to mention that Ruby doesn’t always demonstrate the highest performance. On the other hand, over the last decade, Ruby has demonstrated its reliability and consistently provided great opportunities to scale products. Due to this, Ruby is considered a solid language that can be used by startups and large enterprises.
Final thoughts on Ruby
Ruby provides a lot of tools to implement a full range of solutions including for mobile development, machine learning, robotics, and artificial intelligence. However, there are some restrictions like performance and multithreading. Despite these obstacles, Ruby is perfect for enterprise digitalization. This is thanks to ready-made solutions for meeting business needs, such as handling financial resources, establishing employee management processes, and managing all types of company data.
A comparison of the top five languages for writing microservices
|Number of companies using it||4,038||26,269||11,757||8,584||4,417|
|Advantages||Great speed and support for concurrency, made for building large and complex apps, powerful standard library for creating web services||Lots of programming resources and libraries, lots of developers, ability to move easily from one system to another||Great code readability, strong support for integration with other technologies, high programming productivity||Ability to write fast and portable programs, excellent concurrency support, made for building high-performance apps||Rapid development, ability to scale any product consistently, made for building high-reliability apps|
|Disadvantages||Safety is only checked during compile-time, no manual memory management||No control over garbage collection, slow performance, no support for low-level programming||Slow execution, lots of design limits, possibility to see bugs only during runtime, high memory consumption||No garbage collection, no built-in support for threads||Low runtime speed affects performance, multithreading algorithm isn’t implemented perfectly|
|Areas where it has proven itself||Automation, messaging platforms, data analysis, machine learning||Commercial ecommerce websites, scientific applications, electronic trading, games||Automated build systems, data analysis, machine learning||Automotive, database servers, robotics, appliances||Mobile development, machine learning, robotics, artificial intelligence|
Ready to go with microservices?
As you see, all languages have their advantages and disadvantages. In essence, any programming language can be used for developing a microservices architecture. However, to ensure the development process will be as efficient and smooth as desired, it’s better to choose the right language according to your project goals.
If you’re ready to go with microservices in Ruby, we’d be glad to help you! Our Ruby on Rails web development specialists deliver efficient, reliable, robust, and maintainable code. Contact us and we’ll help you develop a dedicated product for your business.