Why is Lua such popular?

Sunday, September 16th, 2007


A steadily increasing community exists around the programming language Lua, especially in the games related industry. In case you don’t know it: for instance, games like Far Cry or S.T.A.L.K.E.R. use Lua as an embedded scripting language.

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And there are Unix applications like RPM 5 and Monotone which also embed Lua as their programming language for scripting extensions. In RPM 5 one can code .spec macros in Lua via %{lua:...} and in Monotone one can hook into the run-time processing of the application by declaring Lua callback functions in ~/.monotone/monotonerc. Having such an embedded scripting language in an application is great for hackers like me as it allows to adjust and extend applications easily and flexibly.

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10 days, 6 languages, …

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

The last two weeks I’ve first coded in my lovely C and the neat Java programming languages for developing the Java JNI-based bindings to my OSSP uuid C library. Then I worked on key management functionality for OSSP ase (a web application) in my preferred web programming languages Perl (backend) and JavaScript (frontend). Finally, the last days I was forced to switch over to programming in C++ (main application) and Lua (run-time hooks and extensions) while hacking on a NETSYNC-based access control functionality for the distributed version control system Monotone.

So, I ended up coding in 6 different programming languages in the short time range of just about 10 man-days. Such speedy switching of the software artist’s tools is not something I like very much, but it at least keeps one trained this way ;-) Now, at the weekend, I’m reflecting this programming expedition and recognize a few experiences which are IMHO worth noting in my BLOG.

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Let me share my train of thoughts in the following three BLOG articles about 1. Java Native Interface (JNI), 2. Lua and embedding a scripting language into applications, and 3. distributed version control versus central access control.