Learning the zig programming language

2022-08-22 - a general-purpose programming language and toolchain for maintaining robust, optimal and reusable software


Since learning nim last years I had a renewed interest for learning yet another language. I liked nim but I wanted to try something else, a simpler language. I had my eye on zig and spend the last five or six months learning it.

Getting started

Learning zig is relatively easy, there are well written materials starting from these great tutorials. The language is pleasant and simple to think about, it shows that there was a lot of thinking involved to keep it simple but powerful. The tooling is fantastic and well thought out, zig build is so smartly done! Testing is a breeze, debugging straightforward.

What i found not so simple to learn is the idioms regarding the usage of anytype. I encountered this when trying to feed a reader or a writer as argument when instantiating an object. Once I understood it was quite logical, but the lack of resources made me stumble a little.

Projects I wrote in zig

I took a lot of satisfaction writing code in zig. The language is really great, compilation is on the slow side compared to nim and go but faster than c or c++ (and should improve a lot in the next release), debugging with gdb is so simple… You can iterate on your code very quickly and it is such a breeze.

Since I wrote a Funge-98 interpreter in go then in nim recently, I did the logical thing and wrote one in zig to have an objective comparison of the three languages : https://git.adyxax.org/adyxax/zigfunge98. The code ended up shorter and executes faster than its go and nim counterparts. IT is a little less expressive than nim, but being a simpler language I find it all more elegant. I trust it will be easier to find my way again in the code in a few years.

I have also tested the C integration and it is absolutely stellar. I wrote a little tool around the libssh for a non trivial test and was very impressed. Just look at this beauty on the second line: with this you can then use your C objects transparently in zig! I might pick this up and start writing the configuration management tool I have been dreaming about for the last decade : https://git.adyxax.org/adyxax/zigod/

Next I wanted to write something I had not attempted before and decided on a little game. I chose ascii graphics for simplicity and began writing a pong like thing that could remind you of volleyball : https://git.adyxax.org/adyxax/grenade-brothers/

I have not dabbled into a web project yet but it is next on my todolist.


I recommend learning zig, it is a very refreshing language and you will quickly be productive with it. The tooling is great and I find this language is a jewel waiting to be discovered by more developers.

It shows that it does not have a big corporation behind it like go with google or rust with mozilla, if it did it would already be one of the top languages of the decade.