Lua Programming Tutorial – Complete Guide

Welcome to an exciting journey into the world of Lua programming! In this tutorial, we will provide a comprehensive guide to understanding and engaging with Lua programming language. Our goal is to present you with an engaging, valuable, and useful learning experience, whether you’re a beginner coder or a seasoned programming expert.

What is Lua?

Lua is a powerful, efficient, lightweight, and embeddable scripting language. It supports procedural programming, object-oriented programming, functional programming, data-driven programming, and data description.

What is Lua used for?

Lua is commonly used for scripting in game development because of its fast execution, minimalistic design, and easy learning curve. Therefore, it’s a popular choice for developers aiming to increase their proficiency in game creation and Ardunio projects. It’s also used in web development, embedded applications, and image processing, amongst others.

Why should you learn Lua?

Learning Lua can open up a world of possibilities in game development and beyond. Its simple syntax and efficient performance make it an attractive language for beginners seeking to jump-start their coding journey. Not to mention, the demand for Lua programmers in industries such as game development and web application development continues to rise. By learning Lua, you’re arming yourself with a vital skill in today’s tech-heavy world.

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Installing Lua

Before we can begin coding, we first need to install Lua on your system. The website is a great place to start. Make sure to download the correct version for your operating system.

Basic Lua Syntax

Let’s start with Lua’s basic syntax. In this section, we will cover some of most basic and commonly used Lua features such as variables, strings, numbers, tables and control structures.

Variables and Data Types

In Lua, we have several data types such as nil, boolean, number, string, function, userdata, thread, and table. In this example we will focus on number and string type. Variables can be declared and values can be assigned as follows:

local num = 5
local str = "Hello, Zenva"


Strings can be used with different quotes and also can be concatenated using .. operator.

local str1 = 'Hello, Zenva'
local str2 = "We love programming"
local completeSentence = str1..", "..str2


Numbers can be manipulated using various arithmetic operations as shown below:

local num1 = 10
local num2 = 5

local sum = num1 + num2  -- Addition
local difference = num1 - num2  -- Subtraction
local product = num1 * num2  -- Multiplication
local quotient = num1 / num2  -- Division

print(sum, difference, product, quotient)


Tables are the only “container” type in Lua. They can be used as arrays, lists, sets, or dictionaries.

local t = {}  -- empty table
t[1] = "Zenva"  -- assigning value to table

zenva = {game = "development", platform = "online"}
print(zenva["game"])  -- accessing table

Control Structures

Control structures are a key component of any programming language – Lua is no exception. Let’s explore some of Lua’s basic control structures like if, for, and while statements.

if Statement

local zenva = 5

if zenva > 10 then
  print('Zenva is greater than 10')
  print('Zenva is not greater than 10')

For Loop

for i = 1, 5, 1 do

While Loop

local i = 1

while i <= 5 do
  i = i + 1


Functions are a vital part of the Lua programming language. They provide code modularity, better readability and recyclability.

function greet(name)
  local message = "Hello, "


Tables (continued)

Tables in Lua can also be indexed with strings, not just numbers, emphasizing their versatility.

local person = {}  
person["name"] = "Zenva"

Error Handling

Lua provides error handling via the pcall (protected call) function. If the function called by pcall results in an error, pcall catches the error, stops the normal execution and returns the error.

function badFunction()
  error("This function is designed to fail.")

if pcall(badFunction) then
  print("Function succeeded")
  print("Function failed")

Metatables and Metamethods

Metatables are used in Lua to change the behaviour of tables. Metamethods are a way of overloading the behavior of Lua tables and they are stored in the Metatables. Lua offers a variety of metamethods to handle different operations. This example demonstrates how we can use metatables to define custom addition for our tables.

local t1 = {value = 2}
local t2 = {value = 3}

local mt = {
  __add = function(t1, t2) 
    return { value = t1.value + t2.value } 

setmetatable(t1, mt)
setmetatable(t2, mt)

local result = t1 + t2
print(result.value)  -- It will print "5"


Coroutines are a powerful feature in Lua that allows the suspension and resumption of functions. They can be used to create more advanced control operations, such as asymmetrical multiprocessing, non-preemptive multitasking, etc.

local co = coroutine.create(function()
  for i=1,5 do


In the above example, we create a coroutine that prints numbers from 1 to 5. However, after each print, we call coroutine.yield(), which suspends the function. Then, we can call coroutine.resume() to continue the function where we left off.

More About Lua – Advanced Features

Moving forward, let’s further delve into some of Lua’s more advanced features that add depth to coding capabilities and processes.

File I/O Operations in Lua

File I/O operations are an integral part of any programming language, including Lua. Lua provides several I/O operations like reading from or writing into a file. In the following examples, you will understand how to perform these operations.

File Writing Operation

local file ="test.txt", "w")  -- open a file in write mode

file:write("Hello, Zenva!")

file:close()  -- close the file

File Reading Operation

local file ="test.txt", "r")  -- open a file in read mode

print(file:read("*a"))  -- read the entire content of the file

file:close()  -- close the file

Object-Oriented Programming in Lua

Even though Lua is primarily a procedural language, it also offers the functionalities of Object-Oriented programming (OOP). Lua achieves this using its table data type. An Object in Lua is an associative array i.e., a table where some keys are functions.

Person = {name = "Zenva", age = 10}

function Person:new (o, name, age)
  o = o or {}
  setmetatable(o, self)
  self.__index = self = name
  self.age = age
  return o

function Person:display()
  return" "..self.age

local p1 = Person:new(nil, "Zenva", 10)


The Person table is actually a class that represents a person. ‘new’ is a constructor function which is used to create an object of type ‘Person’. ‘display’ is a method that displays attributes of ‘Person’.

The ‘require’ Function

Like most programming languages, Lua supports modularity. We can break up our code into multiple files and import these modules using the ‘require’ function. Suppose we have a person.lua file, it can be used in another file using require.

-- Assuming that “person.lua” exists
local Person = require("person")

local p1 = Person:new(nil, "Zenva", 10)


Global Variables

In Lua, all variables are considered global unless explicitly declared as local. Global variables do not need to be declared and can be used anywhere in our program.

value = 10  -- This is a global variable

function globalTest()

globalTest()  -- This will print 10

Here, even though the variable ‘value’ is not declared inside the function ‘globalTest’, the function can access it because ‘value’ is a global variable.

What’s Next? Keep Learning!

Having dipped your toes into the vast ocean of Lua, it’s now time to take the plunge! We at Zenva encourage you to learn more, explore, and keep scripting. Lua, with its simple and efficient syntax, provides a unique blend of power and flexibility that offers you a world of opportunities.

If you’re particularly interested in channeling your newfound Lua prowess into game development, we’d strongly recommend our comprehensive Roblox Game Development Mini-Degree. It’s a collection of project-based courses that cover game creation with Roblox Studio and Lua. You can bedazzle your portfolio and gain in-demand skills for a career in game development. The courses are thorough, interactive, and suitable for beginners and seasoned developers alike.

For an expansive range of courses, you can check out our entire Roblox collection. There’s plenty of valuable content to explore! With Zenva, you can nurture your programming skills, create games, earn certificates, and traverse from beginner to pro. Join us and amp up your coding journey!


Whether you are a novel programmer looking to embark on your coding journey or a seasoned developer seeking to expand your skill set, Lua is an ideal choice. Its simplicity, flexibility, and power offer a unique perspective to scripting languages and open up a plethora of opportunities. From game development to web applications, you can make a significant impact with Lua.

Here, at Zenva, we are invested in your learning journey. Discover a world of knowledge and refine your skills with our comprehensive Roblox collection. Let’s navigate through the world of writing exciting new codes together!

Did you come across any errors in this tutorial? Please let us know by completing this form and we’ll look into it!

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