Coding, also known as programming, is a skill that’s quickly taken the world by storm. It plays an integral part in everything we do on a day-to-day basis.
But what exactly is coding?
What use does it have?
Why should you learn to code?
Let’s break down the basics of coding:
When we talk about coding, we’re talking about how people communicate with computers. Coding, also referred to as computer programming, is the way that software developers tell a computer what they would like it to do. When writing code, developers give a set of instructions to a computer, and those instructions are called “code.” This means that coding is just the art of writing lines of code.
Being able to clearly communicate with a computer is an incredibly valuable skill to have, since code itself is used in nearly all global communication devices. Without coding, the many new ways that we talk to each other simply wouldn’t exist — it’s that important!
Just like every letter and number matters when you are writing an email to someone else, every letter or number that a developer uses while writing their lines of code will affect the way that the computer interprets those instructions. Coders, also known as web developers, software engineers, programmers, and more, use their coding skills to create a wide variety of technologies like websites, apps, operating systems, video games, robotics, and nearly anything else that can be imagined. All of those ideas come from code, which is easy to learn, starting with understanding how it works.
How Does It Work?
Now that you know what coding is, let’s talk about how it works.
You might have heard of something called binary code before. Binary code is the long series of 1s and 0s that you’ve probably seen in science fiction movies. Although the vast majority of coders never directly write binary, it is fundamental to the way that a computer receives its instructions.
At the end of the day, a computer is just a machine, and machines are literal. This means that a computer will do exactly what the code instructs them to do. Think of a lightbulb — that light bulb will only turn on when a flip is switched. Flipping a switch is a simple instruction, with no room for interpretation. Though computers are more complex than lightbulbs, they work on the same principle.
The hardware that makes up a computer can only ever be off or on, just like a lightbulb. Instead of a single light, though, a computer is made up of billions of tiny transistors, each of which can be switched from off to on and back again. When the combination of transistors that are on changes, the computer behaves differently. Instead of turning those transistors off or on with a light switch, we can write a set of instructions to tell the computer what to do.
In the old days when computers were made of a much smaller number of transistors, binary was the only coding system around. If we think of every transistor as a single digit where a 1 means “on” and a 0 means “off,” a sequence of 1s and 0s can be combined to tell each transistor what it should do. As computers became more and more complex, however, it became harder for a coder to manage increasingly long and complex instructions using only 1s and 0s.
This is where programming languages come into play.
What is a Programming Language?
While computers may run on binary, programming or coding languages are what coders use to translate the 1s and 0s into messaging humans can understand. Once rendered, the information is written into a set of instructions for machines to perform. It’s a symbiotic relationship that bridges the gap between human and machine.
So, instead of having to decipher coding instructions that are written in long sequences of 0s and 1s, imagine being able to write those same instructions using words that both you and the computer understand. That’s exactly what a programming language is.
Coders no longer need to remember that 00100010 01101000 01100101 01101100 01101100 01101111 00101100 00100000 01110111 01101111 01110010 01101100 01100100 00100001 00100010 is the set of instructions needed to write the phrase, “hello, world!”. Instead, they can just type those words and they appear. Be sure to thank the countless coders who came before us for developing coding languages to make our lives easier.
When you’re first setting out on your road to becoming a coding superstar, you’ll be presented with myriad optional coding languages to learn. And there are … a lot of them.
First, let’s think of this in terms of cooking. In this scenario, you (the programmer) are passing an original recipe (the code) onto a relative. If you wanted to, you could figure out how to send that recipe to your relative with Morse code (the binary), but why not make your life easier and write out the instructions one sentence at a time (the lines of code). Once your relative (the computer) has the recipe, they must follow the set of instructions you provided to create the final dish. The more complex the recipe, the more complex the dinner.
Programming languages are what bridges the gap between computers and humans. For every app and website you’ve ever visited, there are dozens of programmers out there who have written the code to get a computer to create it for you. Just like there are hundreds of different spoken languages in the world, there are hundreds of different programming languages that programmers have developed over time. Here is a list of some of the most widely used programming languages today.
Learning the Levels
All programming languages fall into two classifications: high-level and low-level.
High-level programming languages like the ones listed above fall more in line with human speech. You’ll find high-level languages using everyday action keywords like order, run, request, etc. The biggest benefit of high-level languages is that they are easier for coders to read and write, but the biggest downside is that they take slightly longer for the computer to interpret.
Low-level programming languages like machine code or assembly language are easy for a computer to understand, but nearly unrecognizable as a human language. This means that these languages are more difficult for people to code, but they perform much faster than high-level languages.
Programming languages are diverse and used in a multitude of ways. You don’t have to know every single language in order to become a developer — all it takes is one. As you become more familiar with them, the process of learning a new language gets easier every time.
So, Why Learn Coding?
We live in the golden age of technology. And it’s no secret that technology plays an integral role in a mammoth amount of industries around the world. From children to older adults, writing code is a skill that’s easy to learn — and learn to do well.
Here are some of the reasons that make writing code a beneficial and exciting skill to learn:
Ever-growing job market
Software development jobs are rising in number with no sign of slowing down. With opportunities abound, people looking for a career change or just looking to move up in a company have the chance to capitalize on new ventures. The job market for coding aficionados expands every day.
Become better at problem-solving
The essence of coding is problem-solving. Coding is essentially a process of examining a bigger picture and breaking it down into small, digestible pieces (like a chef would do) until it’s a single solvable task. Learning programming imparts a new perspective on how to approach situations — tech-related or not.
Merge technical skills with creativity
On the surface, people may view coding as just a bunch of letters and numbers mashed together to make a website. They couldn’t be more wrong. Coding allows you to bring your creative side and technical skills together and create something truly unique. In the life of a computer programmer, no two days are the same.
Do it for fun
Coding doesn’t have to be any more than a hobby. Plenty of people use coding as a fun way to flex their technical skills on their own time. You can start your blog talking about ocean kayaking, develop a site to post your photos of your pets, or build your own video game. With coding, the fun doesn’t have to end.
The concept of being your boss is appealing to many. Learning to code can turn a hobby into a side hustle, and ultimately, into your own business. You’re free to build an e-commerce site where you can sell your pottery, create a hometown news site, offer coding classes, or start your web design agency. Your hours (and rate) are for you to decide.
Start to Code with Kenzie
Whether it’s for professional purposes or wanting to pick up a new skill, coding presents a world of opportunity. Coding is easy to learn when you enroll at Kenzie Academy. We have an extensive curriculum that lets you develop the skills for a job you love. Learn more about the programs we offer or reach out to us today!