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What is Procedural Programming, and When Should You Use It?

Paul Larkin - August 25, 2020

When you graduate from coding bootcamp and venture out into the tech world for the first time, you’re probably just happy to get through training and find a gig. As your career progresses and you become more comfortable in your role, however, you start to pay attention to the sectors within your field.

One of the main sticking points has to do with procedural programming. Procedural programming is an approach that many different software codes take, but it might not be the right choice for every task. So, what is procedural programming, and when should you use it?

This guide gives you the vital stats about procedural programming and explains when and in which circumstances it does best. Procedural programming can be your best friend when you work as a software engineer . In this article, we give you a rundown of when to use it and how this type of programming language really shines through and makes a championship showing.

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Fundamentals of Procedural Programming

Programming languages and bridges both require solid foundations.

When you work in-app and web development , you find yourself using all sorts of different coding languages to help you complete your work. Object-oriented languages like PHP and Ruby get lots of use, and you also run across examples of functional computer programming languages like Python and Lisp. For many new developers, though, procedural programming is the first approach they learn and is their fallback option when they need to get the job done.

The key aspect of a procedural language is the way it works with your devices. When you use a procedural programming language, you give specific instructions directly to your computer and tell it how to accomplish its goals through logic and step-by-step processes. This is a tactic that approaches jobs from a top-down view. Procedural languages view data as separate from procedures, and that impacts how developers utilize it. Examples of procedural programming languages include C, Java, and Pascal.

How to Use Procedural Languages to Build Programs

To build tasty apps, you need an equally tasty IDE.

Procedural programming languages are older and easier to grasp in concept than other language types. As a result, many developers begin their training by getting comfortable working in a procedural environment. The basic approach when working with procedural languages is to view the entire prospective program and then break it down into individual procedures. You then break those procedures down into smaller sub-procedures and continue doing so until you separate the app into manageable chunks.

After identifying the procedures, developers focus on each one and use integrated development environments (IDEs) to help them produce the appropriate instructions for them. As we mentioned, these languages work in a head-to-tail manner, so a common way to approach programming with a procedural code is to start at the beginning and end at the finish. This tactic ensures that everything works before you move on to the next procedure: The larger your team, the more procedures you can tackle at once, of course.

Procedural Language Pros and Cons

Procedurals have both advantages and disadvantages.

Sounds pretty good, right? The procedural programming paradigm is understandable and simple to work with, and it’s a great way to tackle general programming tasks that don’t require a lot of reusable code or real-world objects. Many of the apps you write don’t work well with procedural programming, though, and it’s crucial to understand why that is, so you take the right track with each issue you encounter.

Procedural programming has some advantages. It’s simple to use, it doesn’t require nearly as much memory as other programming paradigms, and it gets along great with interpreters and compilers, thanks to its simple structure. However, procedural languages don’t protect data nearly as well as other language types, and it emphasizes operation over data, which can cause trouble in some instances. Perhaps the biggest trouble you encounter with procedural languages comes when you encounter an error—if that happens, get ready to go through each line of code until you find the culprit.

Jobs that Rely Upon Procedural Languages

Land a sweet gig with your procedural chops.

By now, you might think that procedural programming is a dinosaur that no longer sees use in the business world. That’s not the case at all, though. Many jobs that require a good working knowledge of procedural programming. Some of those gigs pay a pretty penny, so it’s not necessarily a good idea to discount procedural programming right out of the gate.

Thanks to the fact that Java is at least partially a procedural language, you’re bound to find a top position if you have solid procedural skills. Web developers use procedural languages all the time in the course of their work, and you’re sure to find all kinds of work on server-side applications and back end platforms that need a motivated coder with procedural programming chops.

Procedural programming has been with us for a long time, and it isn’t going anywhere soon. Our guide introduces you to the concept of procedural programming and shows you how developers use it in their work.

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Paul Larkin

About the author: Paul Larkin has years of experience in the tech industry and writes about cybersecurity and future of work.

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