This leads me to today, where I have created a library that connects a CodeMirror editor in a web
browser to a language server, and automatically configures autocompletion, syntax checking, and go to
definition support while being fully customizable. I spent a month creating a hosted demo environment
to explain this functionality- when you connect to that environment, you will get assigned a new container
to run your own language server.
The library code is on Github under the ISC
license. I welcome you to use the library in your own projects and to submit issues
and pull requests you may have! As a solo developer on this, I’m also very excited to see if
this code is useful before investing more in maintaining it.
The frontend of the demo environment is also available on Github here.
This version of the library requires a Web Socket connection to a language server, which is most similar
to the inter-process communication of a language server running on your desktop. If your specific language
server supports these features, they will be available in the browser as well:
Highlighting matching symbols in document
Linting or syntax errors
Within the same file: Go to Definition, Type Definition, and Find References
There is an example project provided within the library to show how you might configure the library, but
a simple configuration might look like this:
This year I ran my first marathon. I would have been running anyway, but having a goal and
deadline made me focus and push myself beyond what I’d ever done before. My work at the
Recurse Center this fall was the same. Now that my 12 weeks at the Recurse Center are over,
I want to reflect on the lessons I’ve learned about myself and my abilities, what went well,
and what didn’t.
When I was laid off from a startup this fall, I wanted to bounce back stronger than before.
I didn’t need to get another job right away, so I had time to focus on training for the
marathon and doing programming projects. At a minimum, I needed to learn the latest technology
to keep working as a software engineer. But I also wanted to complete a project that would tell
a good story about my career and interests, where I would learn a lot.
The Recurse Center sounded like a great opportunity for me:
The Recurse Center is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for programmers in
New York City.
We believe people learn best when they take control of their own education and are free to
explore what they’re interested in. RC is heavily influenced by unschooling.
Never graduate. RC doesn’t end after you leave. We have a diverse, active, and engaged alumni
community of over 1,300 smart, enthusiastic, helpful programmers all over the world.
The length of the Recurse Center is up to 12 weeks, and new people start every 6 weeks in a batch.
They also help with finding a programming job, which I thought would be helpful after my batch.
Some of the most interesting work I had done over the last year was volunteering to
teach high school students to build websites. I really liked getting the
students to see the expressive power of code, but also saw how they struggled to understand
all the complexities of it. I had a loose idea that I could improve the tools students are using,
and that if I did good enough work, I could give a talk like two of the best talks I ever attended:
Stop Drawing Dead Fish
by John Resig in 2015. This led me to brainstorm projects with the restrictions that they:
Were for teaching students to code
Played up my strengths
Used modern technology
Could be published
Could be completed by myself in three months
I’m happy that I added these restrictions, because the projects I ended up working on were so interconnected
that I was able to plug them into each other in the last week of Recurse. In doing that, I felt like my work
was adding up to something greater than its part, and like my efforts were worth it.
But I also felt like being so focused on my own projects had some downsides, especially in comparison
to what others were doing at Recurse.
Be a part of the community
This may be obvious to some, but it took me a while to figure out how to make the most of the
community at Recurse. The self-organized events didn’t fit my preconceptions of
how to use my time, so I skipped most of them. For example, many Recursers are looking for their
first professional programming job, and hosted interview prep sessions that I didn’t attend.
It was an isolating feeling to be working on my project and not to have anyone who I could
talk through ideas about my work with, and I wanted to fix it.
I started imitating other people who I thought were taking more advantage of the community, by
offering to pair program, debug configuration issues, talk about test setup, and work through
interview problems, which was a lot more fun! Specifically, I was posting and answering more
questions on Zulip, like “Would anyone like to pair on Docker setup?” I found that when I
did this, unexpected people would start conversations with
me, and this finally led to me being able to talk about my project with people and feeling
Share work in progress
I have a tendency to avoid drawing attention to my work, so I thought it would be important for
me to get out of my comfort zone by demoing projects and interesting things I’ve learned at the
weekly Recurse demo nights. Having a mini-deadline every week was something I thought would help
to me live with imperfections in my work. I noticed that most Recursers were also avoiding demos
until they had a working project, which meant that I had no
idea what they were working on, so I would start asking people the same questions I was asking
myself: “What did you learn this week? Can you show me what you have so far? What’s the next
thing that you can demonstrate next week?” Of all the things I did at Recurse, I think this was
the one that was most helpful to others and myself. Sharing my work in progress, and encouraging
others to do so, helped me to know people in the community better, and also helped people get
to know me.
Looking back on Recurse, some of my favorite times were the social activities after hours,
and I wanted to remember the fun times outside programming:
People asking me about my marathon
Group lunch at Sahadi’s
Assembling Commander decks for the game collection
Going away Karaoke
Before attending Recurse, I thought that it was a place where everybody would be working on
and talking about their own open source projects, and I applied because that’s what I wanted to
do. I found a much broader range of people– beginners, experts taking a break,
people switching careers, artists, scientists, activists, and more— who all want to be better
programmers. I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone in programming, sharing my work,
collaborating, and being part of a community. I’m sad that Recurse is over, but as they say,
I will never graduate. I intend to be back in the future to share more work in progress!