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What is programming? The beginner's manual

Anybody with a curiosity to enter the computer programming world may have their desire interrupted because of how intimidating the whole process seems to be.

It’s understandable. Watching from the outside, learning the ins and outs of programming seems like an overly complicated source of stress.

However, giving up so easy on programming, especially in 2019, will only serve as a way to block your personal and professional development. Learning programming comes with a long list of advantages, including: development of logical reasoning; improvement of creativity; incentive to teamwork; and increased clarity, speed and fluidity of thought.

For those considering to learn programming, keep on reading this article for a clearer view of the discipline.

This beginner’s manual will answer the “what is programming?” question and many more.

Well, what is programming?

At first glance, computer programming seems to be mostly math and science—the entities we commonly associate with precision, logic, and equations. However, we can add a very artistic facet to programming. It’s a discipline composed of technical, analytical, and creative aspects.

In a nutshell, programming provides directions for computers to take their next action. These actions must be described in code, that translates it into instructions that computers can understand. Code is the mystical force that allows programmers to perform tasks and solve problems on a computer.

Whether it’s to show a web page, to render graphics, or run any automated task, , the purpose of programming is to create something on the computer.

To the average computer user, the seemingly random lines, symbols, and letters seen in code has no meaning. But, the truth is that everything that’s done on a computer – from online shopping to reading social media – requires code.

Unfortunately, there haven’t historically been many definitions for programming in layman’s terms. People in the tech world usually provides explanations in a jargon-filled language that actually confuses more rather than clarify

That’s why we wrote this beginner’s manual to programming. Our intention is to make this concept totally digestible to you.

What is programming language?

A programming language is the terminology and set of rules for instructing a computer or computing device to perform specific tasks.

Computers, more precisely processors, are machines that blindly follow pre-defined instructions.

They require communication to act on the instructions given to them by programmers. The only way to successfully communicate with computers is by "speaking" in a language they understand.

The term used to describe the language that computers understand is machine code. Every programming language (the way programmers communicate with computers) must be translated into machine code by a compiler or an interpreter, because machine code is the only thing that a computer processor can understand. It would be the equivalent of seeing two people from different countries talk to each other with the help of a translator.

Now, it may come as a surprise to most beginners that there isn’t one universal computer language. Instead, there’s a diverse array of programming languages with their own unique traits.

Without these languages, computers wouldn’t be able to process such abundant and complex information as efficiently, precisely, and quickly as they do.

There are preferred languages throughout the programming world. At times, new hot languages emerge in the industry leaving the more obsolete ones in the dust. We wrote an article about the top programming languages being used in today’s landscape that you’ll like to take a look at.

Best platforms to learn how to program

Treehouse

Treehouse is an online technology school that offers beginner to advanced courses in web design, web development, mobile development and game development taught by a team of expert teachers. Its courses are aimed at beginners looking to learn coding skills and embark on a career in the tech industry.

Pluralsight

Pluralsight offers a vast selection of video training courses for software developers, IT administrators, and creative professionals via its website. They have a number of basic courses to help beginners learn fast from scratch, as well as advanced topics for IT professionals and developers. On Pluralsight you will find a course called “what is programming?” that might be a good kick-start.

Skillshare

Skillshare is an online learning platform with thousands of classes in design, business, tech, and others. They offer a 2-month free trial for users to try their courses that range from newbies to experts. After the free trial period there is a $15 monthly subscription that can be cancelled at any time.

Linkedin Learning

LinkedIn decided to build their own education platform. They acquired the e-learning platform Lynda and started offering professional courses through LinkedIn Learning. Besides Programming, they offer two other main categories of courses: Business and Creative. Since July 2019, Linkedin Learning started to sell a la carte (ALC) courses as an option to their ongoing subscription model.

Udacity

Udacity is a MOOC-based platform (available for anyone who wish to sign up ant take a course). They offer in-depth learning through their Nanodegrees (that cost around $200/month) and they also offer over 200 free courses.

Codecademy

One of the best things about this highly popular programming teaching platform is the cost: absolutely zilch. Codecademy has taught over 45 million people how to code with a litany of engaging learning methods.

A journey into Codecademy means a deep dive into everything about programming and code. From HTML and CSS, JavaScript, and SQL to Bash/Shell, Python, Ruby, and C++, Codecademy provides both in-depth and bare basic courses on the subject matter.

Coursera

Unlike Codecademy, Coursera is for-profit and offers over 1,000 courses from 119 institutions. You can watch their courses for free, but they charge if you want to receive a certificate.

Though, there are some free introductory programming courses offered from various universities, such as the University of Toronto and Vanderbilt. These teaching programs provide hands-on knowledge for a variety of programming disciplines.

EdX

EdX was founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012—which speaks to its ability to teach about state-of-the-art theories and technology. This platform is open-source/non-profit and includes 53 schools, meaning users will get a free – and thorough – introduction to computer science.

Udemy

Udemy is more of an all-around job skills platform but does provide plenty of top-notch programming courses – both free and paid – taught via video lessons. Some examples of these courses are Programming for Entrepreneurs, Python Frameworks, APIs, HTML, and CSS.

Github

GitHub provides a platform for over 31 million seasoned programmers to review code and build software together. It acts as a reference book when programming professionals find themselves stuck on a problem.

However, GitHub isn’t just for experts and offers its ‘Coding Camp’ for beginners.

Code Avengers

Code Avangers is a New Zealand-based programming education platform is known for interactive programming lessons for children, teachers, professional coders, and creators alike.

Their courses are centered around C++, HTML, Python, and plenty more.

Classpert

Classpert provides the largest number of programming courses from top providers in only one place. Its online search engine will turn up the ideal online course any user is looking for.

The platform possesses all the relevant information from online education sources such as Coursera, Edx, Pluralsight, Treehouse and many others. It also offers free online classes from high-level institutions such as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, UC Berkeley, MIT.

The programming courses that Classpert aggregates are for anyone from children with a hobby to adults looking to advance their careers. They also boast cutting-edge information that’ll give each student the edge they’re looking for.

Why should you learn Computer Programming?

One of the top reasons to learn computer programming is its value in the job market.

The world is in the midst of the digital revolution, and technology continues to grow at a fast pace and this movement is not expected to wane any time soon. The proliferation of electronic devices such as smartphones and tablets means that the computer programming industry is thriving with many career opportunities.

By 2024, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects the job outlook for software developers to be 21%, which is double the rate of growth when compared to other careers.

Apart from companies in the technology sector, there is an increasing number of businesses relying on computer code. There are programming opportunities in industries such as finance, manufacturing and healthcare.

Something else to consider is that while other tech’s current most in-demand job such as data scientist usually requires an advanced degree in math and physics, programmers don’t need a degree to succeed. And the proliferation of coding bootcamps is making programming skills more democratic for job seekers.

What is programming used for?

In a few words, the real purpose of programming, and therefore software, is to solve a real-world problems in an automated way.

Nowadays software development is applied in almost every business aspect. It is used to order food, get a paid ride, buy concert tickets or even schedule your next trip.

In its most elementary form, computer programming can be used to add two numbers together. However, programming can also read data from temperature sensors to adjust a thermostat or sort data to initiate complex scheduling tasks and make critical reports.

Programming is also responsible for the development of video games and creating the multi-layered universes and detailed characters within these worlds.

Why should I take an online course in computer programming?

Learning to code may seem overwhelming at first, but once you start the experience, you may find that you like to program after all. And everything becomes more enjoyable.

Taking an online course in computer programming may be the most appropriate way to test-drive coding. The platforms mentioned above offer affordable course options. You can even find some Universities and platforms offering free courses.

Enrolling in a Course for Beginners will help you assess whether or not you want to go deeper and take another full online course on the subject.

Plus, programming is a versatile skill and is applied to different professions today. It is no longer a career relegated only to programmers.

However, do not immerse into programming blindly. Understand which programming skills will give you the greatest competitive advantage, either to become a programmer or to apply programming skills to your professional occupation.

Platforms such as Classpert helps you find the most appropriate courses for your programming initiation, whether it is to become a developer or a professional whose job doesn't relate directly to programming. For example, online journalists benefit greatly from learning basic HTML for writing blog posts optimized for search engines like Google. Similarly, marketers who want to create high-converting landing pages will reap the rewards of understanding programming languages.

Even if you never use it again, programming will teach you a new approach to problem solving and critical thinking that you may never have considered before. It is always something worth investing in.

Long gone are the days that programming was somewhat inaccessible and only palatable to those with an inherent knack for computers. Instead, marketers, copywriters, teachers, journalists, salespeople, and almost any other professional have access to course options that make programming languages completely digestible.

So, what are you waiting for? Chances are if you’re reading this blog post, you’re already on the fence. Hopefully, the content you’ve read will help you take the leap and embark on a learning journey that’ll sky-rocket your skillset to the next level.

Felipe Bernardes
I am an economist responsible for Marketing and Growth Hacking strategies at Classpert. I usually write about entrepreneurship, marketing, SEO, stock trading and related subjects.