The definition of coding is the process of creating instructions for computers using programming languages. Computer code is used to program the websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day.
If you want to work in a high-paying field like software engineering, web development, or data science, understanding and using code is essential. But, what is it and why is it important?
Computer coding is the use of computer programming languages to give computers and machines a set of instructions on what actions to perform. It’s how humans communicate with machines. It’s what allows us to create computer software like programs, operating systems, and mobile apps.
What Is Computer Code Used For?
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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 it to program the websites, apps, and other technologies we interact with every day.
This brings us to the next question: how does coding work?
Coding 101: How Does Coding Work?
Computers are electronic machines made with transistors. Transistors are 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 brevity, 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. So, we developed high-level languages to help speed up the process. Rather than 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 closer to human language. It’s easy to think of it as a language the computer can understand.
Programming languages are used to create web pages and applications. There are many languages used in programming including:
What Makes a Programming Language Unique?
Whichever a software developer chooses is usually up to their discretion, as more than one programming language can often work for the same purpose.
Low-Level vs High-Level Programming Languages
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 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, among 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 thousands of lines of code and discern which steps to take as quickly as a computer.
Where Coding Used?
While computer science deals with high-level theoretical ideas, almost every aspect of modern life relies on coding. Every application on a phone, tablet, or computer uses computer languages to run.
Other digital systems like smart TVs and calculators use it too. Virtually every new car uses it to control everything from air conditioning systems to fuel injectors. 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, some of the most advanced technical fields (such as artificial intelligence and machine learning) use coding.
Computer Code 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.
How to Learn Coding?
These days, your options for learning to code are practically limitless. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of computer programmers hold a bachelor’s degree. However, some employers are open to hiring programmers who have other degrees or proficiency in specific programming languages.
Websites that Teach Coding
Learn Coding Through Apps
There are also scores of mobile apps that allow you to practice your programming skills and complete lessons no matter where you are. Some of the most popular coding apps are the following:
- Programming Hub
- Programming Hero
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. Some of the best coding bootcamps are the following:
- Flatiron School
- Kenzie Academy
- General Assembly
- Lambda School
While both are often used interchangeably, there’s more to these than a difference in terminology. The difference is often rooted in scope. While coders are only concerned with writing code for software development, programmers deal with the bigger picture. For a more in-depth discussion, check out our guide.
No. Coding is everywhere and so are learning materials for it. Because of this, it has become extremely easy to learn how to code. On average, one would only need four to six months to learn programming languages. This is usually possible by attending coding bootcamps that advance short yet intensive training.
The five most common jobs you would come across as a coder are computer programming, full-stack development, data science, software engineering, and web development. The median hourly pay for these roles ranges from $20 to $40, with computer programmers being the highest-paid.
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