Computer code is as important as computers themselves. Without the proper code, computers, as we know them, wouldn’t exist. Software is the driving force behind any good device, be it your iPhone or the microwave you use to heat pizzas at 2 AM.
Computers interact with hardware components and each other in their own language, called Machine Code. Code written in this language is referred to as Machine Level Code and is the basic set of instructions of what a computer should do when given a certain input or trigger.
Coding, in layman terms, is the practice of writing this code, optimising it and running it on the target machine. In this article, we’re going over what is coding and the possible advantages of learning to code.
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What is Code?
By themselves, computers don’t know what to do with the data they receive or have stored in their memories. Code tells computers how to process a given bit of data in their memory and in what way. Each line of code you write refers to a change in the computer’s memory, which results in a change in the target you want to change so that you get the results you desire.
Aforementioned, everything from phones to operating systems, games, websites, apps runs on this code. However, almost all of these are written in different programming languages — and there’s a good reason why.
You see, it is possible to learn Machine Code, otherwise called the Assembly Programming Language, but it isn’t easy and would take a lot of time. So we developed programming languages instead that make it easier to write code, which is later converted to Machine Code that computers can understand.
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What are programming languages, programs and scripts?
Programming languages, in layman terms, are coding languages that are easier for humans to learn and write programs into. A program or a script is a set of instructions to make a computer behave the way you want.
When you write a program in a programming language, it is first to read and checked for errors by a compiler. Once the program is deemed error-free, it’s converted to Machine Code that a computer reads and executes.
Now some programming languages are easier to learn than others. For example, C/C++ is a powerful programming language that gives you a lot of control over a system. That is what makes the language expansive and, in turn, difficult to learn as compared to something like Python — a relatively easy language to learn for absolute beginners and coding veterans alike.
Every app or software you use is a program hidden behind a graphical interface that helps users interact with the underlying code, which tells the computer what to do. Here’s the code you’ll write in Python if you want to show something on a computer’s screen.
The above statement outputs or ‘prints’ Candid.Technology on the computer’s screen. Once you write this line and execute the Python script, it’s first sent to the Python compiler and checked for syntax errors, among other issues. Once all checks are done, it’s converted in Machine Code and sent to the computer to execute.
The computer recognises that it has to print a certain statement on its screen and does the needful. Now obviously, this is an oversimplification of a script or a program, for that matter, but this is really just where the journey begins.
Your programs can be as complicated as you like and can do just about anything you want. You need the level of coding expertise required to make a computer do whatever you want.
Is Coding hard to learn?
Coming back to our original question, what is coding? Well, coding is the process of writing programs or scripts (or code) to make a computer do whatever you want.
Is it hard? That answer depends on a lot of different factors. For example, your end goal with a program plays a large part in whether or not your code will be difficult to write.
The programming language you chose also determines the difficulty you’ll face while coding. However, there are plenty of online resources that can help you get up to speed on a programming language, and the community can help you out if you get stuck.
What programming language should you choose?
Different programming languages are good at different things. Your choice of programming language should be based on your end goal and, more importantly, your comfort level with a programming language.
For example, if you’re making a program that deals with many files and system memory, it’d be better if you chose C/C++. However, if you’re writing a script to automate a tedious process, Python is the way to go.
Note that this doesn’t mean that you can’t do either of the tasks with either of the languages. It’s just easier doing certain things in certain languages.
Why should you learn to code? Benefits of Coding
Apart from the ability to create whatever you want out of a blank screen, learning how to code comes with a host of other benefits.
It can be an enjoyable hobby to pick up. As you learn to code and interact more with basic level computer hardware, not only will you develop a better understanding of how the tech around us works, you’ll be able to build nifty little gadgets of your own.
What’s more, they’re not even that difficult to get started with. Microcontrollers like Arduino, NodeMCU and Raspberry Pi make it very easy to incorporate your coding knowledge with hardware and build really cool things.
Apart from this, many financial opportunities come from learning to code. You could freelance as a developer and make a surprising amount of money. Being a career coder — an App developer or web developer — is also a great option.
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Someone who writes/edits/shoots/hosts all things tech and when he’s not, streams himself racing virtual cars. You can reach out to Yadullah at [email protected], or follow him on Instagram or Twitter.