February 26, 2021

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Node.js/Deno Creator Discusses Rust, C++, TypeScript, and Vim

Node.js/Deno Creator Discusses Rust, C++, TypeScript, and Vim

Ryan Dahl, creator of Node.js and Deno, gave a new interview this week to the IT outsourcing company Evrone:
Evrone: You have hands-on experience with lots of programming languages: C, Rust, Ruby, JavaScript, TypeScript. Which one do you enjoy the most to work with?

Ryan: I have the most fun writing Rust these days. It has a steep learning curve and is not appropriate for many problems; but for the stuff I’m working on now it’s perfect. It’s a much better C++. I’m convinced that I will never start a new C++ project. Rust is beautiful in its ability to express low-level machinery with such simplicity.

JavaScript has never been my favorite language — it’s just the most common language — and for that reason it is a useful way to express many ideas. I don’t consider TypeScript a separate language; its beauty is that it’s just marked up JavaScript. TypeScript allows one to build larger, more robust systems in JavaScript, and I’d say it’s my go-to language for small everyday tasks.

With Deno we are trying to remove a lot of the complexity inherent in transpiling TypeScript code down to JavaScript with the hope this will enable more people to utilize it.

Evrone: Gradual typing was successfully added into core Python, PHP, and Ruby. What, in your opinion, is the main showstopper for adding types into JavaScript?

Ryan: Types were added to JavaScript (with TypeScript) far more successfully than has been accomplished in Python, PHP, or Ruby. TypeScript is JavaScript with types. The better question is: what is blocking the JavaScript standardization organization (TC39) from adopting TypeScript? Standardization, by design, moves slowly and carefully. They are first looking into proposing Types-As-Comments, which would allow the JavaScript runtimes to execute TypeScript syntax by ignoring the types. I think eventually TypeScript (or something like it) will be proposed as part of the JavaScript standard, but that will take time.

Evrone: As a respectable VIM user, what do you think of modern programmer editors like Visual Studio Code? Are they good enough for the old guard?

Ryan: Everyone I work with uses vscode and they love it. Probably most people should use that.

I continue to use VIM for two reasons. 1) I’m just very familiar and fast with it, I like being able to work over ssh and tmux and I enjoy the serenity of a full screen terminal. 2) It’s important for software infrastructure to be text-based and accessible with simple tools. In the Java world they made the mistake of tying the IDEs too much into the worldflows of the language, creating a situation where practically one was forced to use an IDE to program Java. By using simple tooling myself, I ensure that the software I develop does not become unnecessarily reliant on IDEs. If you use grep instead of jump-to-definition too much indirection becomes intolerable. For what I do, I think this results in better software.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.