UrduScript Lets You Program JavaScript in Roman Urdu

Programming is hard. While there has been a recent push to emphasize on teaching kids to learn to code from the very start, there is no question about it that programming is really hard. In fact, some people end up giving up before they are even past the basics.

Moreover, the thing that really doesn’t help is the language barrier. Almost all programming languages that are worth learning are based on the English language. Well guess what, a Pakistani entrepreneur is working on a solution — an informal Urdu-based programming language to get people over the hump.

Meet Asad Memon

Asad Memon is the technical Co-Founder of RemoteInterview, a Silicon Valley-based startup. He is also the person behind StartupList.pk, a much-needed initiative that is like a Pakistani version of CrunchBase.

Asad Memon

Currently, he is based in Hyderabad and works from there. Apart from his job, he also conducts training sessions for programmers in his free time as a way to give back to the community. These topics can be anything from basic programming to advanced (Machine Learning, Web Frameworks, DevOps etc).

He’s also the person behind the Urdu-sounding version of JavaScript, one of the most used programming languages today.

What is UrduScript?

“JavaScript ka Urdish dialect.”

In Asad’s own words, UrduScript is an Urdish (Urdu+English) dialect of the popular JavaScript programming language. Also known as Roman Urdu, this form of language is commonly used in Pakistan as an informal way of communication. Asad has intentionally tried to make use of this informal language in order to make programming more inviting and appealing to people who are not that comfortable with English.

“I developed it with a goal to make programming more accessible to beginners from South Asia,” said Asad, while talking to ProPakistani.

“UrduScript uses Urdu words and analogies to convey programming concepts, making it easy to get started without remembering hard commands and keywords.”

When teaching programming, using analogies is a really common method for making a person understand something. The whole concept of object oriented programming is based on analogies of using an actual physical object with its own attributes and classification, etc.

Similarly, Asad plans to use Urdu analogies in UrduScript to make it easy to get started without remembering hard commands and keywords. The keyword for declaring a variable becomes “rakho”, an if-else case becomes “agar” and “warna”, while a print statement is simply “likho.”

Here is what a basic “Hello World” program looks like,when written in UrduScript,

The question, however, remains that will this be enough? A number of people have asked Asad why he didn’t go all the way and use the Persian script of Urdu, or the way “Pure Urdu” is written from right-to-left, instead of using this Urdish dialect.

Here are four reasons he gave us for not doing it,

  • Persian-like alphabets are not native to our keyboard.
  • The default non-nastaliq font is hard to read.
  • Right-to-left coding style is horrible.
  • Newer generation is adapting Urdish rapidly.

If you are an experienced programmer, you might find this stupid. Per ye apke liye nahin hai,” added Asad.

Contribute to UrduScript

Alone, Asad can do only so much for UrduScript as a side-project. In return, all he wants is some contributions from other people to contribute to the language. You can help out even if you aren’t a programmer.

You can read the full post with more details about UrduScript over on Asad’s own blog or on the project’s GitHub page.