You’ve seen the craze for learning code. But what exactly is coding? Coding is what makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your OS, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and this website – they’re all made with code.
Here’s a simple example of code, written in the Python language:
print 'Hello, world!'
Many coding tutorials use that command as their very first example, because it’s one of the simplest examples of code you can have – it ‘prints’ (displays) the text ‘Hello, world!’ onto the screen.
It's important to expose children to skills, whether it be mathematics or code or whatever. This is a language that is powering everything that is happening in the world of technology at the moment. And you never know, kids might find they actually have a real talent for it. At the moment, they're not even being exposed to it. That is a huge problem.
Learning coding empowers you to do many things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. These things include hand-crafting your own websites, becoming a career coder or even starting a technology business. Most importantly, you’ll be able to understand the technology shaping your world.
You’ve undoubtedly heard or read somewhere that everyone needs to learn coding, right? Well, people say that for a reason! Whether you’re looking for a career in the industry, starting a new hobby or just wanting to understand technology, you can benefit from learning coding.
For example, Word processes the text and commands that you’ve inputted to produce a nicely formatted document. Angry Birds processes the swipes you’ve inputted on your phone to produce a fast moving series of frames on your screen. Google takes the search terms you’ve inputted to produce a list of web pages that meet your criteria.
As you can see, coding is one of the primary tasks involved in creating software.
The short answer is that writing code tells the computer what to do, but it’s not quite that simple.
A computer can only understand two distinct types of data: on and off. In fact, a computer is really just a collection of on/off switches (known technically as transistors). Anything that a computer can do is nothing more than a unique combination of some transistors turned on and some transistors turned off.
Binary code is the representation of these combinations as 1s and 0s, where each digit represents one transistor. Binary code is grouped into bytes, groups of 8 digits representing 8 transistors. For example, 11101001. Modern computers contain millions or even billions of transistors, which means an unimaginably large number of combinations.
But one problem arises here. To be able to write a computer program by typing out billions of 1s and 0s would require superhuman brainpower, and even then it would probably take you a lifetime or two to write.
This is where programming languages come in…