It’s been just over a year since I started working at Unity, and it might come as a surprise to some that I haven’t coded in C# during all this time. Why? Because Unity is written in C# and so is much of what is created using Unity. To be fair, I was able to get on with my work using just Python given that it was mostly research and prototyping. I did try learning to code in C# through some Unity tutorials back in December 2020, but those turned out to be more advanced than I could handle and didn’t cover the absolute basics well enough (at least what I had come across) so I shelved that effort then.
Fast-forward to a year later in December 2021, and I found myself having to go on a month long leave to be in India while my wife and I expect our first child. Other than taking care of her and catching up with my parents who I hadn’t visited since around two years owing to the pandemic, I had quite a bit of free time on my hands. So I decided to take up the task of learning C# once again. This time, I came across Codecademy, where I found introductory courses for different programming languages including C#. And I’m talking real beginner stuff – how to declare variables, conditionals, loops, etc. This was great because, although I could understand these basics well enough without a course, it seemed to gracefully lead on to more advanced concepts such as classes, interfaces, inheritance, LINQ, etc.
So I got started with the course. Codecademy provides one with a browser-based editor and terminal to write and compile one’s code for convenience. I actually found it annoying because it was quite sluggish, didn’t have auto-completion and gave me no idea of how I would write the code on my own machine having set up everything I need to run C# code locally. So I took some time to research how this is done – installing the Mono Compiler and the necessary Dotnet libraries for Linux to write and compile C# and Dotnet projects respectively. Not just that, it took a while to then install the necessary Omnisharp libraries in order to make auto-completion work in my editor of choice – Vim! I’ll try to write a more detailed post on this sometime later, but no promises – the baby is here now ;-).
Once all that was done, I was ready to go! I got done with the course in about a month, at my own steady pace. Repetition was the key – I made sure to write every piece of code myself in my local machine although a lot of it was the same, such as imports, base class and main function declarations and so on. That really helped with developing fluency and also getting a sense of what is needed and not needed in different scenarios. The course, I must say, is very well-designed. The first few chapters were bordering boring for me because I was already familiar with much of what was there, having programmed in C / C++ in the long past but once I got to the chapter on Classes and Objects, things started to get more interesting! What helped was that over the past year, I maintained some discipline in writing typed Python code with the help of MyPy and also using abstract classes via the ABC Python module. C# being strongly typed, the practice of using types in Python obviously helped. But working with abstract classes in Python certainly made it easier to understand interfaces and inheritance in C# better! Same when it came to references, because I did read up quite a bit on mutability in Python. And finally, the section on LINQ was a lot of fun, and bore resemblance to the kind of step-by-step data-processing code I wrote about a year ago in PySpark.
So, now that I’m done with this course, I have this shiny certificate acknowledging my effort!
Next, my plan is to head over to CodeWars and get started with a few Katas to further consolidate what I have learned so far! And perhaps think of an idea that would help me better understand how to organise my C# code into a larger project. Still a long, exciting way to go!