Computer programming basics

CodeSchool: Computer programming basics for beginners

Many programming and software engineering careers flourished recently. It’s undeniable that the computer industry has peaked more today than ever, and the need for programmers has been on the rise since then. 

Are you a beginner programmer who aspires to become a successful developer someday? Like all the masters would tell you, starting from baby steps is the way to go, and CodeSchool is here to help you with the programming basics that you need to learn right now. 

What is programming?

Before getting into the nitty-gritty details, you first need to define what programming is. The simplest definition of programming is the process of writing codes, which are the basic inputs of a computer language, to make a program that people can use. 

These programs can be a website, application, or software that fights computer viruses. In other words, programmers develop software through a series of codes that form instructions for the computer to follow and do tasks.

Your job as a computer programmer is to perfect your craft to make sure that the programs people use in their computers are as perfect as they can be without problems. 

How do computers work? 

Before writing codes, you have to understand how a computer operates. It would be counterintuitive to program something without understanding the tools that you’re using.

Computers process data provided to them by people, the users. This data will then be stored inside a computer’s storage device so it can run the codes or instructions for it to work like how your computer at home does. 

Since computers are entirely dependent on someone performing some tasks, there are devices that help a user and a computer communicate and work together. These devices are the keyboard and mouse. These two together are what you call input devices.

Once the computer receives the data provided by the user, the computer in turn will communicate the results after computing these data into the output devices. Output devices like the monitor and printer help users understand coded language. 

In a nutshell, a computer is a medium used by a user to help designate tasks. These tasks’ effectiveness depends on the skills of the programmer and the software used as an interface to communicate these tasks. 

Fundamental programming concepts

To better help you understand the essence of programming, here are some concepts you should know before learning the languages used by computers.

Source code

Source code is the plain text used in writing a program with the chosen language. 

Algorithms 

Algorithms are a series of instructions that lead to the desired result. Algorithms are what make a program work for applications and computers to function the way they do right now. 

Compiler

Think of a compiler as you would with a translator. A source code is what you write in a language software like Java, but computers don’t understand source codes. A compiler translates the source code into binary codes so computers can comprehend them. 

Conditionals

It is information that tells a program to work only if the applied conditions are met. 

Variable

Variable is the data holder for the value stored in a computer’s memory which then will be used in the application. For instance, if gender is the variable, gender will be recognized as the variable input for the computer. 

Array

Is the data holder to store similar data types of a designated variable. 

Functions

Functions are a set of rules or methods that help programming tasks perform the way they are intended to be. 

Loop

Loop is a series of information needed to perform a condition. 

Bugs

They are errors in the programming.

Glitches

They are errors due to bugs that can be fixed by eliminating the bugs. 

Basic programming languages 

As the name suggests, programming languages act like real-life languages that are understood and communicated. Just like languages, computer languages also have rules similar to grammar. Here are the basic languages every programmer should familiarise:

Java

Real-life applications:

Gaming, mobile applications, graphical user interfaces, applets, online shopping websites, online banking, security software, and far files.

Python

Real-life applications:

Operating systems, compiler, gaming and animation, database management systems, embedded systems.

C++

Baking, virtual machines, trading software, and compilers.

Visual Basic.NET

Windows services, web applications, web services, and control libraries.

JavaScript

Client and server validations, DOM handling, developing web elements.

PHP

Static applications, static websites, dynamic websites, dynamic applications, service scripting.

SQL

Querying database, CRUD, processing stored procedures, triggers, database management systems

Objective-C

Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, iOS operating systems and database. 

How do you choose the right computer language? 

The list of languages above gives a lot of benefits and specific uses to the programmer. The factors to consider may vary for every developer, but generally, here are the most common factors to consider when choosing the language:

  1. What platform the program be used in 

Where the program will be used like a computer or a mobile device has specific niches of rules that only apply to the respective mediums. The language used will curate the hardware and what the software has in its programming. 

For instance, if a solution requires the application to be a mobile app, then Java is the perfect language for it if the base operating system is Android. 

  1. The companies you’ll be working with

Some tech companies have very close relationships with language operators and are therefore required to use the languages provided by their partners.

This happens to most tech companies that partner with complementary companies to achieve a hardware or software solution. For example, Dell and Intel have a very strong business relationship, therefore Dell uses Intel chips for their products.

The same goes with the software side, Microsoft is a partner with ASP, so for webpage development, ASP is used. 

  1. The performance

Although all languages may be useful, they are very different in terms of performance. Some languages are robust, scalable, and platform-independent; meaning they can be efficient for the programmer in terms of flexibility and versatility. 

So it matters when developing web pages to use the appropriate language. But ultimately, the performance of the language is predicated on the needs and preferences of the programmer. 

  1. Support of a bigger community 

Availability is always the best ability. A lot of programmers love open source applications, and it carries over to languages as well. When Java is always available to those who need it, it’s easy to see why it’s coveted by a lot of developers.

  1. Learning curve

Some languages are harder to master than others. Also, a complicated language can detract from productivity because it defies the very purpose of programming in general. 

Programming is meant to make life easier for the users’ side, so having complex language is counterproductive to that mission statement. A good learning curve is always a good sign for a faster and more efficient language tool. 

Fundamental operations of programming

Here are the basic operations programmers face every day:

Input

Where data is communicated and provided by the user or programmer. i.e. human to computer. 

Output

Once the computer receives the data or input from the user, the computer, in turn, authenticates this data and communicates it back to the user. 

Arithmetic

This operation serves as a catalyst in sending information to a different user and computing machine that goes beyond the web for specific details in a transaction or agreement. 

Conditional

Is a test of whether or not the condition of a source code is satisfied or not. 

Looping

An operation that repeats a certain action for the condition to be satisfied. 

Basic skills required to be a programmer

You’re logical

You need to apply logic to programming because it fundamentally embodies the concepts of logical reasoning: following a set of instructions, regardless of how complex they can be. So practice your logical reasoning skills to be an effective programmer.

Self-studious 

Don’t rely on others to teach these concepts to you. The beauty of programming is that anyone can learn it anytime. It’s only a matter of dedication and interest in learning this skill. 

Language

Of course, a whole section is dedicated to this part because it really is the foundation of how you will learn to program. Without learning Java or SQL, you can hardly do programming itself. 

Detail-oriented 

After hours of staring at the screen with millions of symbols on your computer, it’s easy to get lost and be out of focus. Being detail-oriented will help you be efficient when working and minimize bugs. 

Patience

Patience is required in many jobs, but more so with programming. It’s easy to quit and never code for the rest of your life, but that is such wasted potential on your end. Being patient will reward you with useful skills and a lot of job opportunities. 

Conclusion 

There are many reasons why you should go for a programming or developer career. It’s just what’s needed right now from so many companies trying to tap the online market. 

Everyone uses a computer and is a necessity to have in your household. CodeSchool provides the needed education and starting from the basics, you are now ready to do some basic coding. 

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