Back in December, I completed the C# course on Codecademy. This was mainly in order to be able to broaden the scope of my contribution to the project I was involved with at Unity and take a step outside the Python bubble I had for so long limited myself to. This was shortly before I went on paternity leave. On returning from my leave, however, I found that a lot had changed. Most relevant to this post, the team had decided to move away from the Unity-oriented C# implementation of the product to one in TypeScript.
I, for one, had never programmed before in TypeScript but this was not going to deter me from giving it a shot. Having had a positive experience in learning C# on Codecademy, I was pleased to see that they had a course on TypeScript as well and signed up for it immediately. What was different this time was that I wasn’t learning TypeScript solely from the course. I already had a team implementing a product with this language, and this served as a very valuable means to get hands-on experience with it while I got myself familiar with the fundamentals and features of the language through the course. I noticed quite a few similarities to Python (focus on scripting,
nvm for managing language versions and packages, similarity between
npx commands and the
python command), and this helped me hit the ground running. What unexpectedly helped me a lot was my use of
mypy in making my Python code type-safe over the past year or so thanks to my colleague Matti’s insistence. I felt totally at home in adding and manipulating the types of variables in TypeScript, which is something that would’ve taken me a while to get used to otherwise. Anyway, now I’m actively contributing to our new codebase thanks to the kind feedback and review of my colleagues and it feels good to be getting better at a new way of expressing myself in code :-).
Over the past three years, I have (and might I add, serendipitously) ended up programming in Standard ML, Racket (both as part of an excellent series of courses on functional programming offered on Coursera), C# and now TypeScript. It’s hard to measure how better a programmer this has made me, but it has certainly broadened my perspective to what one can do across programming languages and how it’s only a matter of getting used to some basic (often superficial) differences in how one reads and writes code before being able to apply what one has learnt or used in a previous language. The theoretical concepts, of course, are very similar. It’s just that some languages make it easier to do certain things than others. And this was one of the things that was emphasised in the Coursera courses on Programming Languages. Over the past year I have worked with some excellent programmers at Unity, some of whom have been academically involved with Programming Languages, and I bet any wisdom I have to offer in this little post would only scratch the surface of what they might have to say on the subject. Anyway, I really look forward to see where things go from here for me!
Oh, and of course, I did get a shiny new certificate of completion from Codecademy!