Lua for Python Programmers


In This Site

If you try hard enough, by changing the way you would normally do some things in Lua and Python, you can write code in both languages that varies by just a few characters. But don’t be fooled. Lua has distinguished itself from other scripting languages including Python. This site will cover some specific language features that distinguish Lua from Python.

Choosing Python or Lua

When choosing between Lua and Python, today’s programmers are not so much considering the code that will be written as much as they are considering the reason why the code is written. The creators of Lua did not expect such wide adoption of their language, but they met their design goals, and many others would have their same requirements. Lua is currently the ultimate scripting language for embedding into other applications. It is portable, fast, light weight, and powerful all at once. The use of Lua in World of Warcraft is a great example to consider if interested. Python is much more popular for stand-alone applications.

The Birth of Lua

Until 1992, Brazil’s economic policy greatly limited the importing of computer technology (Wikipedia). Tecgraf (the Computer Graphics Technology Group) at the Pontifical Catholic University in Rio de Janeiro created its own tools from scratch that they needed to do their job. The data description languages SOL (simple object language) and DEL (data entry language) were born in 1992. A more powerful programming language with flow-of-control structures was required. Other requirements for the language would be an easy syntax for users who aren’t professional programmers, portability for use in multiple existing platforms, and embedability into other applications. Thus Lua (meaning “moon” in Portuguese) was born from SOL (meaning “sun”) in 1993. With the exception of Ruby, born in Japan, all other significant programming languages have been developed in North America and Western Europe.

The Adoption of Lua

Lua has become widely adopted since the new millennium with considerable attention drawn by the gaming industry ( With more and more programs being expected to be written for mobile devices, a light-weight portable language like Lua could see even more adoption as more libraries are written. Lua is even accumulating corporate sponsors. The future is yet to be written for Lua, but the language is up to the job.