Getting Started Guide: Chapter 1

What is Coding?

What is coding? What is programming?

What is coding exactly?

Code is everywhere you look and it’s definitely not going anywhere anytime soon. In order to start learning coding and understand it better, let’s take a moment to first define what “coding” actually means and entails. Since you will probably be spending a lot of time with it, it’s time to make friends with the term itself.

Coding – or computer programming – is not just some cryptic activity enjoyed by superhuman developers who live in their caves filled with humming servers and boast a year-round tan on their faces from sitting in front of their screens all day.

Computer programming or coding is simply telling a computer what it should do for you. A piece of code is a set of statements, like sentences in your spoken language, and each of those statements directs the computer to perform a single step or instruction.

The individual instructions or steps for specific tasks are very precise and the computer follows them exactly how they are written. Hence, a set of instructions expressed in code makes up a program.

No matter how simple or complex these instructions are, the computer will not get tired or snap at you at any point.

However, should your program have a bug in it, you are in trouble. See, a computer is a machine, so it’s not very clever by itself. It only does what it’s told to do and it doesn’t have a mind of its own. That’s why attention to detail is so important while writing code, and why debugging is something you will probably spend a lot of time on in the future.

— Read also: How to Start Learning Coding? 6 Tips for Beginners

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Summary

  • Coding is simply writing instructions for computers to execute
  • These instructions make up a program

What is coding used for?

Coding can be used for perform a wide variety of tasks and solve problems that you might encounter on a daily basis. Think of your daily routines and how programs or applications help you with your life, connect you to your friends, or provide you with a means to shop online. Needless to say: all of it is powered by code.

The power of code lies in the sheer speed at which computers can process commands in a program. Doing tedious multiplications or lookups, or going through long lists and performing actions on specific elements are what computers are great at.

When I first started to learn how to code with Python, my first Python book (Python Crash Course) had an exercise in it where I was to manually write a list of the first five integers squared. It took me around 15 seconds. Next, I would tell my computer to perform the same calculation for the first 1,000 integers. It took a total of 0.4 seconds.

Summing it up, computers and code can perform tasks for you that would take you ages to finish by yourself. This power and speed are harnessed in the most various tasks across all industries nowadays.

So in case you’re looking to transform your career, for instance, learning coding might be the best tool to do that. You will find uses for coding in advertising, design, marketing, sales, PR, operations, and many more areas.

What is web development?

Simply put, web development or web programming is the creation of websites and dynamic web applications by coding. These websites can then be visited and viewed by anyone who has access to the Internet.

Now the good news is: if you are someone with plenty of attention to detail and you wish to see results quickly, web development might just be your thing! And it’s not even that hard to learn. All you need is some logical thinking and persistence for those moments when things don’t go the way you expect.

— Read also: 5 Awesome Web Development Courses for Beginners

To be precise, there are two broad divisions of web development when it comes to the terminology:

  1. Web development is usually considered to be the more technical part of creating a website. This is also often referred to as back-end development, back-end being something that is not visible to the users and visitors of websites.
  2. Web design focuses more on the visual part of it all and complements the back-end. Since the visual and interactive parts are what the user is presented with, web design is often called front-end development.

However, these two areas often overlap and the terms are often used interchangeably. We’ll take a closer look at front-end and backend development in a dedicated section of this guide.

Also, a single developer could carry out both parts of a project, being responsible for programming the functionalities of a website and also designing a unique look and feel for it. In that case, they would be called a full-stack developer, combining the front-end and the back-end.

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Summary

  • Web developers create websites and web applications
  • Front-end developers create the user interface
  • Back-end developers create the logic and functionalities

FAQ: What is Coding?

Is coding the same as computer programming?

This is a question I hear a lot. Although coding and programming are often used interchangeably, they are not exactly the same thing.

To be precise, coding means writing code from one language to another. For example, from English to Python.

Programming, in turn, means programming a computer (or another machine) to run a set of instructions.

So, all in all, coding is more focused on language, while programming deals with the bigger picture of making computer do what we want.

But don’t worry about mixing these two up. Everyone understands what you mean, regardless of which term you use.

How do I become a programmer?

If you wish to learn coding to start a career in tech, you need to start with a good plan.

First, think about what you wish to do. Are you interested in web development? Or do you want to conduct data analysis? How about software or mobile app development?

Once you know what your goal is, you know what tools you have to learn to achieve it. Each specialization requires specific skills. You need to learn the right programming languages for every field, that is.

After that, you can start looking for resources for learning coding. You can start by browsing through my post on 8 Great Websites to Learn Coding for Free. Try out a couple of resources and see which ones you like.

Here are a couple of related articles you should read, too:

Basically, all that matters is that you start. Simple as that.

What are the benefits of learning coding?

Learning how to code has more benefits that I could possible write here.

We all have different goals we want to achieve with coding. For me, learning coding meant achieving absolute freedom. I wanted to learn how to solve problems in a new way and start my own business some day.

Here’s a few things you can achieve with learning coding:

  • Become more productive. Coding allows you to automate and optimize daily tasks at work. Sort and filter your emails, manage your files, or generate new reports.
  • Improve your problem solving skills. Writing code for computer programs is all about developing solutions. You want your program to perform tasks for you to help you out. Thus, you need to learn how to approach each problem step-by-step and work towards that goal.
  • Combine creativity with technical skills. If you’re creative and you like technical work, coding is a great way to combine these two strengths.
  • Achieve a higher income. Even entry-level positions can offer very competitive salaries. For instance, a Junior Web Developer makes an average of $72,424 a year according to Glassdoor.
  • Start a new career. Learning coding can open new doors for you. You can specialize in a myriad of different fields, too. Web development, software engineering, app development, gaming industry, data analysis, machine learning, artificial intelligence… The list goes on and on!

For more points on why you should learn coding, check out Why Learn Coding? 12 Essential Benefits From Learning Programming.

Summary

So far, you’ve perhaps become a bit more familiar with the very basics of coding. The most important thing to keep in mind is simple: just start learning!

What’s next?

Now it’s time to give some thought to what it is you would like to create or achieve with coding. In the next part of this chapter, you will get an introduction to programming languages. They will provide you with all the tools you need for whatever it is you are planning to do.

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