hecto is actually one of my better side projects. It’s still around, you can find it here, and from what I can see from the Google Search results, the hecto pages are among the most popular pages on this blog to date.

What it was

I wanted to learn a new programming language, beyond my usual stack of Mongo, Express/Koa, React and Node. Specifically, I wanted to learn Rust. So I looked for a problem to solve in Rust - being mainly developing for the web, all the problems that I came up with myself where somehow web related.

I stumbled across a tutorial on how to build a simple text editor in C, which seemed as an ideal candidate. So, true to how I usually approach pet projects, I remixed the original tutorial plus code into a Rust tutorial plus code - not by translating every function into its C equivalent, but by trying to do things “the Rust way”.

What I learned

A lot. You won’t learn the piano by watching someone else play the piano, and you won’t learn the guitar by reading about someone who successfully played it. You have to pick up the instrument and play. The work on hecto was a very deep and rewarding learning experience. Writing a tutorial in parallel while developing the code helped a lot to keep me focussed on the task, so that I could worry more about learning Rust than about which features to add and which ones to leave out.

Additionally, I learned a lot about how terminals work, since the author of the original tutorial went to great lengths explaining the teeny tiny details along the way.

This post is part of my Pet Project Sematary, click here to get to the first post in this series.