Lua is weird!

I recently merged my first feature on a Lua project, so first, YAY! And now, I want to talk about why Lua is weird!

Wait, what’s Lua?

Lua is a scripting language that seems to be popular in gaming circles (World of Warcraft and Angry Birds are among users). I’ve also heard it’s popular to use for Minecraft.

Lua is:

  • fast
  • easy to run
  • super small (1.1M uncompressed)

But why is it weird?

The most interesting thing I learned this week is that Lua has one data structure in its eight basic types: nil, boolean, number, string, function, userdata, thread, and table.

No arrays, no dictionaries, no objects, no candy, just one compound data structure: a table.

What is a table in this case? It’s not that different from a JavaScript object or an associative array:

local empty_table = {}
local my_var = { somekey = "somevalue" }

Assignment is done with =, multiple values are separated by commas. This gets fun when you want to represent an array in Lua, and by “fun” I mean “disturbingly simple considering this is not in fact an array structure”:

local my_data = { "one", "two", "three" }

This is a table where the keys/indexes are integers. Interesting! Also interesting: they are 1-indexed and not zero-indexed.

Check it out for yourself (and play with Lua) on repl.it

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One Response to “Lua is weird!”

  1. mathieu May 12, 2016 at 4:27 am #

    Lua is prototypical like Javascript. But I think with fewer quirk 🙂 IMHO.

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