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Programming Language Basics You Should Know

Paul Larkin - January 04, 2021

If you want to be successful nowadays, it helps to have a good handle on programming. People with programming skills are more useful and valuable team members, and they can command much larger salaries and better job security. You don’t even need to work as a coder—programming is a dynamite resume bullet point for people from all walks of life. The better you are at coding, the better you’ll be at your job. That’s why it’s essential to learn programming language basics, whatever your profession might be.

In our guide to programming language basics, we examine the building blocks of coding languages. We take a look at the two different models of programming and go over the fundamentals of programming language methods, structures, and syntax. You’ll find our tips to be useful for all careers. Beginning programmers, in particular, will be able to take the information we provide and build upon it to develop their programming chops. With our guidance, you can take your first steps into Developerland!

Know Your Models

It should be simple, right? All programming languages act precisely the same, don’t they? Heh. You know better than that, pal. It could never be that easy. In actuality, there are two distinct coding language models, and you’d better know which model type you’re working with if you want to get anywhere with your code. Fortunately, you can tell the two types apart without much trouble.

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The first type is called structured programming. The structured programming language model is older and more straightforward than the other method; commands execute in a step-by-step fashion in the order in which they are written. Structured programming languages utilize directional commands to navigate the code and are full of loops and subroutines designed to execute under specific circumstances. Pascal and C are examples of structured languages. Object-oriented languages, by comparison, establish containers and objects. Programs written in object-oriented languages, such as Java or C++, don’t have a directional flow; they move from object to object as needed.

Get Your Structure Right

If you want to write elegant programs that can be easily maintained by any competent developer, you’ll want to take the time to make sure that you’ve designed your program with a good overall structure. Well-structured programs are clear to follow and provide simple and well-defined component interfaces. They also engage in best practices, such as information hiding. Poorly structured programs, by contrast, contain seemingly arbitrary component divisions and jumbled mazes of undefined interfaces.

Most structures follow a simple pattern. They open with starting statements for program establishment, move on to variable declarations, and then proceed to program statements. You can find this basic structure in programs of all sorts, regardless of the language used or the language design model. If your application deviates from this structure, be prepared to explain why to your coworkers and boss.

Learn Your Syntax

Like most fields, you have to know the right words to get the results you need. Computer languages have particular syntax designed for their particular needs, but most of them follow standard design principles. The syntax provides each language with the rules and symbol definitions needed to establish meaning and create functioning programs. Programming languages and spoken languages share common ground– when a spoken sentence is simple and well designed, its meaning is clear. Likewise, when a program contains syntax errors, it will not perform its functions correctly.

You can generally break down coding language syntax into three categories. At the word, or lexical, level, the syntax establishes how a character combination creates tokens. The phrase (or grammar) level takes things to the next step and dictates how the tokens combine to create whole phrases. Finally, the context level sorts things out and establishes object names, type validity, and other organizational tasks.

And that’s the deal. Programming language basics can be intimidating to learn, but if you want to be a code-writing hero, you’ve got to take the time to get the concepts down. We hope we’ve helped make the task a bit easier for you. With the foundation we’ve provided, you can strike in any direction and find the coding language that’s perfect for your needs.

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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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