In CodeBerry Programming School’s “Basics of Programming” series, we discuss programming-related topics and everything you need to know to get started. Stay tuned for new articles and find the answer to every “what”, “why”, and “how”, you may have had about coding!

Would you like to learn how to code, online? Come and try our first 25 lessons for free at the CodeBerry Programming School.

Basics of Programming

 

In this article, we are going to go through some points that might come up when you are taking your first steps in getting to know the basics of programming. We will do a short introduction of the most popular programming areas and languages, talk about the issues around making some big decisions (about what technology and learning format to choose) and say a few words about the personal and technical background necessary for this venture. We will also make some book and video tutorial recommendations in the hope of motivating you to start studying.

 

Programming as an umbrella term – and its many meanings

When we hear that someone is a programmer, we can already assume that he is doing some complex and interesting work that requires a lot of careful attention. But that is not really enough information for us to tell what he actually does, what an average day of his is like, and what kind of tasks he has to deal with. Coding is such a diverse field that it can be considered only a very generic term in this form, spreading over countless areas as a giant umbrella. 

Still, there is one thing that all these areas have in common: they all involve communication with computers. And the way to do that is writing program codes, which is done by programmers. (Who also do testing, debugging, and documenting; they communicate with clients, learn and teach, do teamwork or work individually on a personal project.) If you would like to learn more about the above-mentioned communication through descriptive examples, check out our article titled A Brief Introduction to Programming.

So what do we mean when we say that programming is present in countless areas? Think about all the various devices, applications, platforms you use daily. Software for web pages, mobile apps, games, desktop applications, embedded devices (for example, smart household appliances), and so on—the list is infinite. Creating and operating each of these involves different programming areas and technologies. 

Different criteria are applied and different technologies are needed for designing and creating the things that you see as a user, and those running on the server-side. Various technologies call for various programming languages.

 

The most popular programming languages

There are several surveys looking at the most popular programming languages. But what exactly do we mean by popular? Surveys conducted in this subject are not looking for the best programming language, as there is no “best programming language”—only adequate and less adequate ones for a given task, need, or purpose, and ones that can or cannot be used in a given situation or for a given platform. The source we used when writing this article shows the languages in which the biggest number of lines were written in a particular month, so technically, it measures which languages are used the most. 

According to this, most of the code written was created in Java, C, Python, C++, and C. Visual Basic, JavaScript, SQL, PHP, and R are also quite high up in the rankings. The diagram clearly shows how the popularity of languages has changed over time. There are several things to consider when you decide to learn one or the other programming language, the most important of which is the purpose you need it for, your goals relevant to programming.

You can read some hints and tips on finding the right programming language for you in our article titled Which Programming Language is Right for You?.

 

The many ways of gaining new skills – Learning the basics of programming

There are many ways to get started when you want to learn something new, and programming is no exception either. But whatever learning method you choose, you will need patience, perseverance, and diligence if you want to learn to code.

 

Individual learning

Individual learning can be an attractive option for several reasons. One of its biggest advantages is that you can set your own schedule, spend as much time on studying as you want, and study whenever it is most convenient for you. You can fit the pace and the frequency of reviewing and practicing to your personal needs; you can go back and forth in the material as needed; you don’t have to adjust to others. For the individual study, it is best to use multiple resources, check out online learning materials, tutorials, books, and find the format that suits you best. You don’t have to stick to one particular method, various methods could complement each other perfectly. 

However, learning by yourself also has a flip side: apart from forums, you don’t have many channels where you can ask for help if you get stuck. The external motivation that your peers and mentors would bring can make a real difference in your growth.

There are hybrid solutions too, combining the benefit of studying at your own pace and the support of a student community and mentors. That is also how it is done at CodeBerry, where you can join a virtual community and receive online mentoring. 

 

Courses and higher education programs

You can also choose from a wide range of options if you would like to study in a course, with well-prepared instructors, enthusiastic classmates, and a carefully structured curriculum. When talking about courses, most of us would probably think of “offline”, classroom-based education, which has many excellent opportunities for team building, developing communication skills, and fun lessons spent together. But you can also learn programming in online courses, from anywhere in the world. If there are no coding courses where you live or you don’t want to waste time or money on commuting, then online courses are the right choice for you. 

You can also study coding on the university level, which involves acquiring a much larger theoretical knowledge base, but much less practical experience. You will get to understand complex mathematical problems and gain a deep understanding of operations running in the background of programming. 

You can find more tips on how to learn the basics of programming in our post titled How to Learn to Code, including a more detailed account of various learning formats and beginner-friendly coding languages. 

 

Technical requirements

If you have been interested in programming for some time and you have gathered a lot of information on it already, or you are no stranger to the IT scene (you just haven’t happened to start coding yet), then you will be familiar with the expressions used in this section. If you are coming from a different background and haven’t had anything to do with coding yet, then maybe you’ll be wondering about similar questions as the ones below. 

 

Computer and operating system

What kind of computer and operating system is needed for programming; what do these need to be capable of? 

You can write code on a simple laptop or desktop computer; you don’t need to get a supercomputer developed by NASA. The most common commercial operating systems (Windows, Linux, macOS) will be perfectly enough. 

 

Development environment

Where do I write the code? What environment should I use? You can write programs in text editors, integrated development environments, or online editing platforms. They all have their advantages, and everyone can choose the option that suits their work, needs, and wallet the best.

If you want to work in a text editor, you can use the Atom, Notepad++, Sublime Text, etc. platforms. These allow you to write and edit your code comfortably, they ensure a clear presentation and have a number of extra features such as syntax highlighting and a help menu. 

Integrated development environments (or IDEs) are applications that recognize the syntax of the given language, help prevent bugs, and create nested code. They also have templates, and they can be customized through additional plug-ins and preferences. Eclipse, Visual Studio Code, Webstorm, etc. are all examples for IDEs. Companies often require their developers to work in a certain IDE, and buy them access to a professional development environment. 

But, as a beginner (and in many coding areas later on as well), simple online editing platforms, such as codepan.io or repl.it, will serve you just fine.

At CodeBerry, one of the first things you will learn is to create a development environment for yourself and get to know GitHub, a free online platform where you can store and share your code. Of course, there are other version control applications available beside GitHub too: for example, Bitbucket and GitLab.

 

What skills are needed for programming?

Analytical thinking

If you are thinking about enrolling in a university-level programming course, you should know that you will need very strong skills and knowledge of mathematics to start with, and you won’t be able to go around that. Contrary to this, other courses, practice-oriented training, and individual learning can be successful even when requiring much less or not as deep theoretical knowledge as university programs do, so you usually don’t need such high-level math for them. 

What you will definitely need though is logical, analytical thinking. In order to understand and learn algorithms, you will need a deep, analytical, rational thinking, if not traditional mathematical capabilities. You will also have to know certain basic concepts and understand basic programming operations. It is best to practice these a lot, and to go back to them from time to time, so you can use them with absolute confidence. 

 

Coding courses in your native language and the role of English in programming

The role of the English language in programming is an important question. Many people could feel discouraged by not having solid English skills, while the world of IT seems to be working mostly in English. So how can you enter it if you happen to have some shortcomings in this regard? 

CodeBerry offers a solution to this problem by providing an opportunity to learn coding in your native language, and there are more and more resources (books, podcasts, videos, courses) available in Hungarian. You can find some recommendations in this article. 

So you don’t necessarily need strong English skills to start learning and to improve your programming skills successfully. Still, it is well worth it to work on your English skills: the ability to read international forums, articles, novelties and descriptions, the labor market advantages that come with it and the access to the global IT scene are just some of the reasons for which you should get better acquainted with the language of international communication.

 

Personal skills

In an article on the basics of programming, we can’t skip mentioning what every enthusiastic beginner should be aware of: the persistence and deep focus needed for learning to code and to work as a programmer. Whatever format you are learning in, you won’t be successful without diligence and disciplined practice. But if you have these, you can immerse yourself in rewarding creative work, exciting and challenging problem-solving processes, and you will gain a substantial advantage on the job market. 

 

Teamwork skills

If you think of coding as more than a hobby, and you can see yourself working as a professional programmer, chances are that you will have to work in a team or cooperate with clients, which requires good communication and cooperative skills. It is also important that you can present what you are working on, the relevant issues, and your findings in a clear, concise, and efficient manner. These are all skills that can be improved, and which are essential for efficient programming teamwork.

It is impossible to include every aspect of the basics of programming in a single article, but we hope that you could find some useful insights in this post. If you are reading this to research the topic before starting to learn to code, have a look at this personal account of the beginnings, the challenges, and the beauty of learning to code.

 

In CodeBerry Programming School’s “Basics of Programming” series, we discuss programming-related topics and everything you need to know to get started. Stay tuned for new articles and find the answer to every “what”, “why”, and “how”, you may have had about coding!

Basics of Programming

Would you like to learn how to code, online? Come and try our first 25 lessons for free at the CodeBerry Programming School.