Which programming languages do we use at Electric Imp?

21 Oct 2014 10:57 electric-imp

This question just came up on Twitter:

@electricimp i am looking to do an internship with you, i was just wondering what would be the best programming languages for me to develop?

– Callum Orr (@OrrCallum) 12:15 PM - 20 Oct 2014

As with so many things in computing, the correct answer is always “it depends”. If you’re someone, like Callum, looking at an internship, it depends mostly on what you want to get out of that internship.

Note that opinions expressed herein are mine, not Electric Imp’s.

Based on a quick look through our source repositories, it would appear that we primarily use the following languages:

  • C++
  • Erlang
  • Python
  • JavaScript
  • Squirrel
  • Objective-C
  • Java

I’m not entirely sure how to rank them, but each of these has its place.

For instance, the embedded improm is mostly written in C++, but makes use of a large quantity of C code, such as eCos. So, if you want to work with that team, you’d want to learn C++.

The back-end is mostly written in Erlang, but we know that Erlang programmers aren’t exactly common, so we’d be looking for someone who’s familiar with concurrent programming and has experience of another functional language.

We use Python extensively for testing our software, both for the improm and for the back-end.

The IDE is written in JavaScript, using jQuery, Backbone, handlebars, and a bunch of other stuff.

We also have some node.js stuff still kicking around, though that’s generally treated as legacy these days.

Our internal ops console is written using Django (Python again). Other internal scripts and tools are written in whichever language seemed like a good idea at the time. Some are written in Python, some in node.js, some in Ruby. One in particular is written in Go.

The mobile apps and SDK are written in Objective-C (iOS) and Java (Android).

The imp platform provides a Squirrel runtime. If you already know another mainstream language, such as C++, C# or JavaScript, you’ll be fine.

So, to recap, for an internship at Electric Imp, I would suggest that it makes sense to learn some Python and some JavaScript. These are both reasonable introductions to general-purpose programming languages; they both have wider application than Squirrel.

If any of this sounds interesting to you – internship or otherwise – you should check out our jobs page.