Coding or programming is the process of creating instructions for computers using programming languages. Coding is used to program the websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day.
If you pay any attention to the technology world, you’ve undoubtedly heard the terms coding and programming dozens of times. Many of the best tech careers require the ability to code. If you want to work in a high paying field like software engineering, web development, or data science, understanding and using code is essential.
In this article, we’ll answer the following questions: what is coding, and what can programming be used for?
What is Coding?
Computer coding is the use of computer programming languages to give computers and machines instructions on what actions to perform. It is the way humans communicate with machines, and it allows us to create software like programs, operating systems, and mobile apps.
We can also use programming languages to create web pages and applications. Some of the top programming languages include:
What is Coding Used For?
Simply put, coding is used for communicating with computers. People use coding to give computers and other machines instructions on what actions to perform. Further, we use coding to program the websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day. That covers what they’re used for, but how does coding work?
How Coding Works
Computers are electronic machines made with transistors. Transistors aren’t very complicated; they’re a simple solid-state on and off switch. When you combine tens of thousands of these on/off switches, you get a computer.
It’s a little more complicated than that, but for the sake of explanation we won’t delve deeper into the topic. Binary code (the 1s and 0s you see in the movies) instructs these switches whether to turn on (1) or turn off (0). Each transistor will receive a 1 or a 0, and with thousands working at once, you can do some computing.
Unfortunately, attempting to make an entire computer work by manually typing a number for each transistor would take an incredible amount of time. Instead, we developed high level languages to help speed up the process. Instead of addressing individual transistors with machine code, we address entire sections of them to perform a specific task.
Programming languages are simply a set of rules defining how to write code. These rules bring machine language (those ones and zeros) closer to human language. It’s easy to think of it as a language the computer can understand.
There are many ways of classifying programming languages. One of the main classifications is a language’s level. Low level languages are closer to binary code, while high level languages are closer to human language. Typically, learning to code is easier with a high level language, while low level languages offer more freedom.
Computer programmers use different programming languages to create software programs. A program is just a text file that serves as an instruction manual for a computer. When you launch an application, you’re telling the computer to read the text file and execute the commands therein. We use these programs to solve problems and for other practical applications.
Depending on the processing power of the computer, a system can scan an enormous amount of instructions and follow them amazingly fast. A human couldn’t possibly read through a thousand lines of source code and discern which steps to take as quickly as a computer.
Where is Coding Used?
While computer science often deals with high-level theoretical ideas, coding is used in almost every aspect of modern life. Every application on a phone, tablet, or computer uses computer languages to run. Other digital systems like smart TVs and calculators use it as well. Virtually every new car uses it to control everything from air conditioning system to fuel injectors, and cities employ computers to operate traffic signals.
Systems that used to be analog are now streamlined using computerized systems. This allows engineers to build a more efficient and less expensive system, structure, and machine.
Further, coding is used in some of the most advanced technical fields, including artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Coding is Everywhere
The rapid technological advancement we’ve witnessed over the last few decades has a wide-reaching effect on how everything works. You have to look below the surface to see where the most significant changes took place. Computers replaced millions of working hours and warehouses of analog machines with faster, safer, and more reliable systems.
Since computers run on code, it’s apparent why you can find it anywhere. Computers will continue to replace outdated technology in everything from microwaves to power plants. And the presence of code in our daily lives will increase.
Where Can You Learn to Code?
These days, your options for learning to code are practically limitless. You can pick up programming skills from coding websites like Treehouse, for instance. Or, you might prefer text-based lessons, like those from W3Schools.
There are also scores of mobile coding apps that allow you to practice your programming skills and complete lessons no matter where you are.
Another great option if you have a serious mindset for learning to program is a coding bootcamp. A bootcamp is a short-term program with a curriculum designed around practical applications. You’ll find expert educators and teachers and plenty of opportunities to practice your new skills.