The Best Code BEAM SF talks from the 2010s

by Erlang Solutions

Preparations for Code BEAM SF 2020 are well and truly underway. This year marks the 9th anniversary of the conference, meaning that Code BEAM has been bringing the best of the BEAM to the Bay Area for the best part of a decade. To whet for your appetite for this year’s event, and to say goodbye to the decade gone by, we thought it was a timely opportunity to look back at the talks that have made the biggest waves in the community every year since its launch in 2012. From the launch of Elixir to lessons from WhatsApp, we’ve got all the Major BEAM events covered. So sit back, relax and get excited with this comprehensive selection of top-class talks.

Highlights from Code BEAM SF 2019

Operable Erlang and Elixir by Fred Hebert

Successful systems grow, and as they grow, they become more complex. It’s not just the code that gets messier either; it is also the people who are part of the system who need to handle a growing level of complexity. In his talk, Fred Hebert explains why it is not enough to take a code-centric approach. Instead, he argues for a holistic approach to making Erlang and Elixir systems truly operator-friendly. This encompasses how our mental models work, what makes for best practice automation, and, what tools exist on the Erlang VM to help us deal with the unexpected. To learn more head to the page for Fred Hebert’s talk on the Code Sync website.

Announcing Broadway - keynote speech by José Valim

The development of Broadway was a significant step forward for Elixir in 2019. The protocol produced by Plataformatec streamlines data processing, making concurrent, multi-stage pipelines easier than ever. In his talk, José Valim explained how Broadway leverages GenStage to provide back-pressure and how Elixir depends on OTP for its famed fault-tolerance. Learn more about José’s talk at Code BEAM SF 2019 on the Code Sync website.

Highlights from Code BEAM SF 2018

The Forgotten Ideas in Computer Science - keynote speech by Joe Armstrong

Some things are just ahead of their time. In his 2018 keynote, Joe Armstrong looks at ideas from the early days of computing and reflects upon the good ideas that could be helpful to revisit and the bad ideas that we can still learn something from. This thought-provoking talk is one that still holds relevance today and is worth revisiting. Interested in what the forgotten ideas of computer science are? Learn more about Joe Armstrong’s talk at Code BEAM SF 2018.

A Reflection on Building the WhatsApp Server by Anton Lavrik

Whatsapp is arguably the BEAM’s most famous success story. In 2014, when Facebook purchased them, the stories of 10 server-side engineers managing a platform with 450 million active users, sending 54 billion messages a day were shared far and wide.
In his talk, Anton Lavrik described some of the tools they use for developing reliable and scalable servers in Erlang. The talk included tools that were not widely used at the time and methods that went against conventional Erlang practices. Want to find out what those tools and practices were? Learn more about Anton Lavrik’s talk at Code BEAM SF.

Highlights from Erlang Factory SF Bay Area 2017

Building a web app in Erlang by Garrett Smith

The long-held belief has been that Erlang is not suitable for web applications. The arrival of LiveView may have given Elixir the edge, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build web applications in Erlang. In this talk, Garrett Smith shows that Erlang can not only be used to build applications but, that it is actually great for it. The discussion is inspired by a presentation from Ian Bicking entitled “Building a Web Framework from Scratch”. It shows that web apps can be built without monolithic frameworks, starting with nothing and gradually adding functionality using abstractions that closely mirror the Web’s underlying protocols. This particular example may be built in Erlang, but the lessons and principles in the talk apply to developing web applications in general. Learn more about Garrett Smith’s talk at Erlang Factory 2017.

Highlights from Erlang Factory 2016

Why Functional Programming Matters, keynote speech by John Hughes

Nearly a decade before Erlang was released as open source; John Hughes published “Why Functional Programming Matters”, a manifesto for functional programming. In this talk, John takes a deep dive into the history of functional programming and explains why functional programming is more important than ever. Get a more detailed insight into John Hughes talk at Erlang Factory 2016.

Highlights from Erlang Factory 2015

Building And Releasing A Massively Multiplayer Online Game With Elixir by Jamie Winsor

The team from Undead Labs launched State of Decay to rave reviews, but they did have one piece of persistent criticism, ‘why was there no multiplayer option?’ To build the infrastructure to handle the massive scale of concurrent users required for massively multiplayer games online traditionally large engineering and support teams, as well as significant time and financial investment. In this talk, Jamie Winsor explains how they decided on Erlang as the right tool for the job to empower them to fast track their multiplayer offering without jeopardising company culture or their product. Learn more about Jamie Winsor’s talk at Erlang Factory 2015.

Highlights from Erlang Factory 2014

That’s 'Billion’ with a 'B’: Scaling to the Next Level at WhatsApp by Rick Reed

In 2014, Whatsapp was the toast of the tech community with its $19 billion sale to Facebook. The news came bought with it an influx of interest in Erlang, as people looked into how such an agile team of developers were able to build such a robust system. In this talk, Rick Reed explains how the team were able to meet the challenge of running hundreds of nodes, thousands of cores and hundreds of terabytes of RAM to scale and handle billions of users. Get more information on Rick Reed’s talk at Eralng Factory 2014.

Highlights from Erlang Factory 2013

The How and Why of Fitting Things Together by Joe Armstrong

Software is complex, and things get complicated when the parts don’t fit together. But how does this happen? And what can we do to prevent this happening? In his talk, Joe Armstrong answers these questions and explains where Erlang comes in to save the day. See the talk descriptions and more details about Joe’s talk from Erlang Factory 2013.

Highlights from Erlang Factory 2012

Scaling to Millions of Simultaneous Connections by Rick Reed

Just two years before they had to scale to billions, WhatsApp needed to figure out how to scale to millions. In this talk, Rick Reed explains how Erlang helps them meet the growing user-demand while continuing to keep a small server footprint. You can see more details from Rick Reed’s talk at Erlang Factory 2012 here.


For nearly a decade, Code BEAM SF has been the beacon of BEAM related news in the U.S.A. It provides a space for the Erlang and Elixir community to share great ideas, be inspired, connect and increase their knowledge base. As we enter a new decade, we are excited to see how these technologies will grow and become important players in growth sectors such as IoT, FinTech and machine learning. The first Code BEAM SF of the decade takes place in March, tickets are on sale now and you can see the full line up of speakers at

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