What is Programming?

So, you’ve heard the hype around programming, but not too sure what it is? Some say it’s what hackers do in basements, others say it’s for overly-intelligent geeks, while some say it’s what people who fix computers do. The truth is that none of this is true. Programming is for the dreamers and the doers. For those who see possibility around every corner and strive to bring that possibility to life. To make it easy for you to understand what programming is, I’m going to use the analogy of baking a cake. Because, well, most of us enjoy cake.

It’s a bit like baking

If you haven’t tried to bake before, it usually starts with a recipe. A recipe is a set of instructions that tells you what to do to get a desired outcome. For example, if you were to bake a chocolate cake, your recipe would instruct you to insert chocolate into the mix.

Programming follows the same principle. However, instead of baking a cake, you’re creating software. Computer programming is the creation of software. In its most basic form, software is a set of commands that a computer can understand. Imagine the most well-behaved dog, who follows every command that you give it. That dog is your computer. If you give your computer an instruction in computer programming language, it will obey.

As a result, the possibilities are endless. This is the foundation of our world today. From mobile phones to cars to artificial intelligence; it all comes down to programming. To view this blog on your cell phone, programming language is required. To see the image at the top of this page, code was used to display it on your device.

Now, back to baking.

To help you understand programming, we’re going to return to our analogy of a cake recipe.

Programming Your Chocolate Cake

Your standard cake recipe will go something a little like this:

  1. Preheat the oven
  2. Whisk the eggs, milk and oil
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, cocoa and chocolate chips
  4. Etc.

When you are programming, you are using code instead of ingredients to create the desired outcome. Computer programming is the process of developing and implementing various sets of instructions to enable a computer to perform a certain task. These instructions come in the form of a language. Just as we have different languages like French or Chinese, computers have specific languages too.

Programming is generally a two-step process. It starts with analysing the problem, coming up with a solution and then devising a plan for putting this solution into action. The second step then involves expressing this solution using specific commands on a computer. Using a computer programming language means that the sky is the limit as to what you can create.

What is Programming Language?

Programmers use specific languages that are designed for computers to understand. To revert to our cake baking example, these languages are like different flavours. In baking we refer to chocolate, vanilla, strawberry etc; whereas in programming we have different languages like Python, C++, Java and many more. These languages each have a special set of keywords that are used to organise instructions for the computer. These keywords (and syntax) are what distinguishes the languages from one another and how they are understood by the computer.

The most popular programming languages today according to Stack Overflow are as follows:

  1. JavaScript
  2. SQL
  3. Java
  4. Python
  5. C#
  6. PHP
  7. C++
  8. Ruby

What is a Programmer?

“A programmer is an individual that writes/creates computer software or applications by giving the computer specific programming instructions. ” -Techopedia

A programmer is someone who creates. Like an artist or a baker, they use tools and what they have available to them, to create new and wonderful things. A few of the typical duties of a programmer may include writing programs in a variety of computer languages (such as C# or Python), updating existing programs, debugging program errors and upgrading code to ensure that programs perform at their peak.

They are digital-makers who are capable of understanding and shaping our digital world. Programmers are problem solvers. Because programming is shaping our world today, many agree that everybody should learn to program.

Learn Computer Programming

There is a large misconception that programming is for only those with a high IQ or above average computer skills. Today some children as young as 12 years old are programming! With the raspberry pi trend in full swing, children, and adults are being encouraged more and more to learn programming.

Today, however, not every job requires you to program. So why the big push for everyone to learn programming, especially children? Learning computer programming helps you develop your reasoning skills. In other words, it develops the way you solve problems and, ultimately, the way in which you think. As a result, even if you are not heading into the field of programming, there are still benefits to learning how to code.

If you’re still searching for more reasons to learn programming, check out this top Ted Talk for some further inspiration:

How Do I Start a Career in Programming?

ITonlinelearning offers a New to Programming training package that is perfectly tailored to those who are programming novices. Programmers earn £45,000 on average in the UK; making this a very lucrative career. In order to start a career in programming, I suggest starting with a solid foundation of online learning. The ITonlinelearning New to Programming package gives you unlimited access to programming courses for 1 year. This study bundle includes Python, C#, Java, C#6 Development and C++ courses.

Once these courses have been completed, our students gain access to recruitment services which significantly increase your chance of launching a professional career as a Programmer. For more information on starting a programming career chat to one of Course and Career Advisors on +44 (0)1795 436 969 or 0800 160 1161 (Freephone) for more information.

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