What Is Coding

Some people say coding is hard; some say it is easy. It’s all subjective. However, coding can be a bit complicated, especially when you are starting from Scratch. So you need to understand how code works. Exactly what happens when you code? Do you know the mechanics behind coding? That’s the reason for this introduction.

Coding/writing computer programs are not new. It’s been around for quite some time, about 50 years ago. Bill Gates, the world’s richest man, wrote codes for fun on his IBM, before a lot of us where born or even dreamt about codes. At the moment, coding is a favorite pastime of many, just the same way that the skill has enabled some people to be able to do very cool and useful things and earn a lot of money doing them.

Coding runs the world today as we know it. Although a lot of people don’t know this, there’s coding embedded into virtually all the gadgets we use today. From your television sets to air conditioners, microwaves, phones, projectors, and many more items, all these have been programmed to do something. This is not just limited to electronic gadgets; even mechanical devices like your car also have some programming in it too. How about our websites and even machinery for manufacturing and farming? What coding can do or where it is used is almost inexhaustible. But surprisingly, not many people know about this. They only believe coding to be for website development and perhaps for building mobile apps.

There are different kinds of coding or programming languages, and they are used to achieve different things. Some are more versatile or will serve as a background like HTML and C (although a lot of people will argue that HTML is not a programming language, we’ll get to that later). Others are a little bit more specific, like Ruby and JavaScript.

For the uninitiated, what is coding? How can you define it? Are coding and programming the same thing? Well, let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of this book.

Coding can be defined as the act of telling the computer what to do in a language that it can understand. The languages used to achieve this are called programming languages. And they include Python, JavaScript, C, C++, and many more.

If your code is right, the computer will perform a certain desired action or actions, will behave a certain way.

Computers don’t understand human languages. Yeah, I know that you’re reading this probably on a computer and thinking to yourself how you’ve clicked on icons written in the English language, and the computer has performed a desirable action. This is only possible because someone has programmed your computer’s operating systems to be able to take in software which you can then use for whatever you want to use it. So behind your operating system, whether you use Windows, Mac, or Linux, a lot of coding has gone into it. Try using a computer without an OS and see if you can do anything with it.

So the language of computers is what we call machine language, it is in binary 1 and 0. Now, what a certain programming language does is to act as some sort of translator or interpreter between human language and binary. I mean there’s no way your computer is speaking “human,” and there’s no way you’re speaking binary, just 1 and 0. Imagine you just talking in 1 and 0, weird, right? But that’s the only language your computer understands. So you write in code, that’s actually some sort of human language, then another program changes it into the computer’s language. Then your computer can understand and do what you have told it to do. This is a much more complicated process, but then I’m sure you get the big picture of how coding works. A document full of these codes is called a script. Each script or a line of code is supposed to make the computer behave in a certain way when properly written. One script might be to make retweet someone’s tweet, another might be to block someone on twitter, and the list is endless of what code can do.

Programming vs. Coding

We often hear such phrases such as, “I’m learning to code,” “My boyfriend is a programmer,” “I’m learning to code websites,” or “I can program very well with JavaScript.” The fact is that these two words—coding and programming—have been used interchangeably and will continue that way for a long time. Now the question is, are they actually the same thing, the exact same thing?

What is Programming?

We’ve defined the coding, right? Okay, so a definition of programming will give us an idea of what it is and what it is not. Let’s use a very simple analogy. You have a digital phone, and I can assume that you set the alarm. You perhaps set the alarm to ring at the same time every day except on weekends.

Maybe you muted a particular word on your Twitter so that anytime that word is mentioned, you don’t see it.

Basically, this is what you did. You said to your devices if this happens, you do this. When its 5 am Mondays to Fridays, the alarm rings, once this particular number calls, block it. Once this word is mentioned, mute, I don’t want to see it.

You see. It could be said that you programmed your device to behave in certain ways in certain situations. There were already instructions available from the manufacturer of the device; all you did was just tell your phone to obey the instructions in certain situations.

Programming could be said to be providing instructions for something or someone to follow. For example, soldiers at the sound of certain commands will perform certain maneuvers. It could be to march, charge, and withdraw, etc. Therefore, programming deals with the creation of a way (a program) that provides executable instructions for a machine to carry out, making it behave in a certain way.

So the process of creating those instructions which your phone followed is coding, and then making your device do what those instructions have said is programming.

A programmer is more like an engineer. A client wants a car that can fly. The engineer designs it, and then a technologist builds it based on the design the engineer has provided.

So coding is about writing codes, while a programmer does many other things. These include problem-solving, planning, conceptualization, leadership, critical thinking, understanding data structures, implementing algorithms, and many more. A programmer looks for the best way a project (be it an app, a website, or something else) can be done the fastest and easier way. He breaks them down into bite-sized chunks, and then it can then be distributed amongst different coders as they work on several parts.

This is way beyond learning or writing code. It actually takes years of practice to acquire this skill. It’s very much easier to code than to program. Of course, programmers know code, always knew code, but the same can’t be said for coders, especially those who are just learning. Programming is used in a broader sense and coding is just one of the many processes of programming,

Coding is like writing a chapter, whereas programming is writing a book.

Programming involves deciding the right instructions and then providing instructions for a machine to carry it out, of course, with the expectation of a certain result, whereas coding is translating those predetermined instructions into a language the computer can understand.

Why You Should Learn How To Code

According to Strive Masiyiwa, the CEO of the Econet Group, basic coding, at least HTML, is something that everyone in this generation should learn. This is not a new saying, though; many people have spoken along these lines too. Coding has become a normal aspect of our lives. A lot of things we do have an aspect of coding or programming in them. So even if you don’t intend becoming a career programmer, it’s not a bad thing to have an idea of how some of the most common machines you use work. Most people don’t have any idea of how the computer works. Here’s the future of work, you’ll either be told what to do by a computer or tell a computer what to do. And the only way to tell a computer what to do is by coding. We are getting to this place really fast, faster than you’d expect. Coding and programming in a way prepare you for these shifts and leaps in technologies. These leaps are not possible without coding. This is one very important reason you should learn how to code. You might never make a career out of it, but you’ll be sure to understand what’s going on in the world of technology around you.