Programming the same thing in multiple programming languages

Josh Sherman
3 min read
Software Development PHP Node.js

Recently I set out on an interesting journey. I wanted to build programming libraries for my API, HolidayAPI. Some of the languages I know like the back of my hand. Others, have never even touched them before.

Before you start sending me hate comment, I am fully aware of Swagger. I had given it an honest shot but I felt the resulting code was bloated. The resulting libraries had a bunch of files and I was able to fit each library into a single file that was less than 100 lines of code. In fact, the largest library was only 62 lines of code.

Bloat aside, I was fearful that taking such an approach would leave me attempting to maintain code that I didn’t fully understand. I most likely would have figured things out but I figured that writing each library myself would make maintenance easier.

So I set out to write a library in five different langauges. I started with what I am the most fluent in, Node.js and PHP. Then I attacked Ruby and Python, which I have a small bit of working knowledge. Rounding out the pack was Go.

Go (or is it Golang?) ended up being the most challenging. The only experience I have with Go was working through a tutorial years and years ago. I had never built anything worth the shit with it.

It took a few weeks of casual evening hacking but all 5 libraries are available for immediate consumption. Here’s what I had learned about each of the languages I had worked with during the process:

Versioning code is pretty much perfect in Node.js

When I say versioning, I am referring to something like an API that has multiple versions and verbs / endpoints available. Since you can nest objects in JavaScript, the resulting library had very clean interfacing: HolidayAPI.v1.holidays(params);

I still dig that PHP doesn’t make you explicitly require core functionality

Ok, ok, ok… we get it. PHP sucks, yadda yadda. Thing is though, every other language that I worked with required me to explicitly require different bits of core functionality. There’s probably an argument in there that this speeds things up or whatever, but for developing in languages that I am not entirely fluent in, it makes things easier.

PHP also gets props for being able to combine namespacing with classes and functions to achieve a similar level of awesome in regard to versioning the interface out cleanly.

I still don’t feel the Ruby syntax is human readable

I remember the argument early on that Ruby makes sense because it’s has very human readable syntax. I’m sure if I spent more time with it, it would click for me but as a casual, I still found somethings to be confusing compared to other languages that I have worked with.

Python really is a gorgeous language

It had been a while since I wrote something from the ground up with Python. The resulting code ended up being the smallest and most elegant of the batch.

Can’t tell if I love Go or if I want to punch it in the face

So the jury is still out. Go was the language I had the least experience with and thus, had the most difficulty writing in. My ineptitude is not the language’s fault, but the documentation I found online left a lot to be desired for me.

Even though it’s a very strict language, I was able to coax Go into letting me work with data that was similar to an object in JavaScript. For anybody looking for the same, try map[string]interface{}.

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About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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