Why and How to Learn Lua

Lua was named one of the fastest growing programming languages in a recent report from GitHub — growing 34 percent since last year. Although Lua might not be the first programming language that springs to mind, it has gained popularity in particular for game development. 

“Lua is a high-level programming language used for scripting in games and other tasks,” Samuel Ogunleke says. Additionally, “Lua is simpler than Python, and it has a very short learning curve. With its simplicity, all data structures are represented almost the same way. It is easy to write functions, conditional statements, loops, and everything,” he says.

In this article, we’ll look more closely at why and how to start learning Lua.

Why Learn Lua?

According to the website, open source Lua is a lightweight, embeddable scripting language, “used for all sorts of applications, from games to web applications and image processing.” You might want to consider Lua, for example, if you need a fast, platform-independent language or one that’s easily embedded within C or C++.

Lua can also be used in conjunction with various game engines, including:

  • Corona
  • Defold
  • LÖVE
  • Roblox 
  • Unreal

For example, says Karen Schwarze, “in World of Warcraft, you can use Lua to customize the game’s interface.” 

However, Lua can be used to control or extend a wide range of software, says the LuaScript site, such as:

  • Nginx
  • Reaper
  • Redis
  • Vim
  • VLC media player
  • Wireshark

Lua, which is distributed under the permissive MIT license, “runs on all flavors of Unix and Windows, on mobile devices (running Android, iOS, BREW, Symbian, Windows Phone), on embedded microprocessors (such as ARM and Rabbit, for applications like Lego MindStorms),” and more, the Lua website says.

How to Learn Lua

To start learning Lua today, check out the following courses and tutorials:

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