programming

Where to make notes whilst learning a new programming language

For the past few days I've been teaching myself JavaScript for a PhD project. I'm using the excellent book "JavaScript: The Good Parts" by Douglas Crockford.  To begin with, I took notes in my hand-written note book.  But that was slow and clunky.  So I started making notes in Google Docs.  But that doesn't have syntax highlighting.  So it finally dawned on me: the best place to make notes whilst learning a new language is in code!  This feels so blindingly obvious now that I feel dumb mentioning it but it took me a little while to figure out.  Of course, we all tinker with code snippets whilst learning a new language.  But I'm now trying to get into the habit of creating a new file for each topic, and to put lots of comments in the code to explain each new language feature that I learn.  The code will be my (runnable) notes.

For example, here's my file on the topic of function invocation:

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