About Code Thesaurus

Code Thesaurus is a system that allows you to compare structures of programming languages side-by-side in an easy to learn way. It's a great method for learning a new programming language after you already know one, or to quickly use as a cheat sheet or a reference tool. It's designed to help take out the verbosity of language documentation and simplify the way to get quick answers when you're stuck in a bind.


The concept of Code Thesaurus was invented by Sarah Withee back in 2015. She was approached by another developer on a Slack team and was asked if she could help debug something in Ruby, a language she hadn't used before. Having used about six languages before, she looked at the code and found the issue. The problem was she didn't know how to fix it. After rummaging through Ruby's documentation and not finding what she was looking for, she knew how to do it in another language and wished she could just compare them side-by-side instead.

Time and time again, she ended up either working in a new language at a job, staring at someone else's code, or trying to fix some issue somewhere that she knew, in concept how to fix, but just struggling digging through documentation trying to find that right solution.

She searched for a long time trying to find someone that had built such a tool already. She found numerous cheat sheets, or examples of programming problems written in several languages, but not syntactical comparisons. After about a year of trying to think through the problem of "How could you compare any two languages together?" as well as "How do I build a system that is easy and encouraging to add language meta data to?", she finally started slowly working on this project.

The base of the project was mostly built during Hacktoberfest 2018 and Hacktoberfest 2019 in PHP and Symfony. It was converted to Python and Django just before Hacktoberfest 2020.


Code Thesaurus would not be where it's at if it weren't for the people that have contributed over the past year. Sarah would like to personally thank everyone for their efforts in adding language data, fixing bugs, refactoring code, editing the design, revised documentation, and so much more! Thank you!

An image showing all of the contributors to Code Thesaurus so far

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