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Remote Students Swift-JavaScript Transpiler Makes Splash on Hacker News

A team of students in our Remote Beta program took on the ambitious project of building a Swift to JavaScript transpiler, and their work has been rewarded with lots of positive attention from the developer community. Shift-js translates Apple’s language, Swift, which right now cannot be used for web applications, into JavaScript, which can be used for all types of applications.

“Swift is a really ambitious project -- they are really aiming for it to be a dominant computer language,” explains Don Steinert, who built Shift-js with Verlon Smith, David Churchill and Rex Suter. “But one real blind spot is its ability to be used for web applications.”

Suter describes Shift-js as “a unidirectional Google Translate, where the languages just happen to be programming languages.”

javascript, shift, js, transpiler, coding bootcamp

Shift-js allows Swift developers to translate their code into JavaScript.

Transpilers allow developers to use their knowledge of one programming language to leverage the advantages of other languages.

“If you are an iOS developer who is writing in Swift all day, rather than have to shift gears and start writing in JavaScript, you can stay in your preferred language,” Steinert explains.

With growing interest in transpilers and Swift, which Apple has said will be open sourced by the end of the year, the project rocketed to the front page of the popular developer-focused news aggregator Hacker News, and spent a full day at or near the top of the JavaScript and Swift subreddits. Shift-js was also included in the JavaScript newsletter JS Weekly. No one on the team had ever gotten so much attention from the developer community, and it was a thrilling and educational experience.

I’m definitely a believer in the program. There’s a big market for bootcamps in New York. I visited some of them and they all ask which other bootcamps you are looking at. I told them that I was considering Hack Reactor Remote Beta, and they said if you get in, you should probably just do that. That happened twice.
— Don Steinert, Remote Beta Student

The fact that a small team like ours, can have such an impact, changed my view of how I can be a part of the developer community,” says Churchill. “I didn’t expect to build a project that would get so much attention and to be able to interact with so many different people with so many different skill levels. We had the chance to talk about the project with some pretty big developers.”

The project also had the team, none of whom had worked with Swift before, working with both languages at an elemental level.

“I learned a ton about how languages are built and interpreted,” Smith recalls. “We gained the knowledge to effectively build our own language if we so choose.”

The four-week process of building Shift-js amounted to quite a capstone on the team’s experience with Hack Reactor Remote Beta.

“I’m definitely a believer in the program,” says Steinert, who took the course from Manhattan. “There’s a big market for bootcamps in New York. I visited some of them and they all ask which other bootcamps you are looking at. I told them that I was considering Hack Reactor Remote Beta, and they said if you get in, you should probably just do that. That happened twice.”

His teammates note the quality of the program and the people it attracts:

“I would add that while the curriculum of the program is phenomenal, the real draw for me was the strength of our peers,” says Suter. “Hack Reactor Remote Beta facilitates being surrounded by incredibly bright, like-minded individuals, which allows for an incredible learning experience.”

Churchill echoes this, saying that “getting to work with so many great people that are so passionate about programming, in addition to the great curriculum--it’s just gone above and beyond my expectations.”

The experience has made him want to encourage future students to be similarly ambitious:

To other students, don’t be afraid to take risks trying something crazy. Don’t be afraid to dive into unfamiliar territory...because you might come out with something amazing.”

Want to gain skills to make an immediate impact? Apply to Hack Reactor Remote Beta or any school in our network today.

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