What Is Coding? 15 Facts For Beginners

Note: this post originally appeared on "the old" version of DailyTekk.com (back when it was mainly a blog). 

As I was looking over DailyTekk's analytics recently I noticed that a lot of people are landing on our site after Googling "what is coding?" Most likely, these searchers end up on a popular article I wrote awhile back called 7 Easy Ways to Learn Coding and Computer Science for Free or The 10 Best Ways to Teach Kids How to Code. But neither of those articles explains what coding is. So I've decided to put together a "skimpost" that breaks down exactly what coding is for complete beginners.

  1. Code is a set of instructions (or rules) that computers can understand; it might be helpful to think of code as a recipe.
  2. People write code, code powers computers and computers power many everyday objects like phones, watches, microwaves and cars.
  3. In fact, almost anything powered by electricity uses code.
  4. There are many names for people who code: coders, programmers, developers, computer scientists, software engineers, etc.
  5. Computers run on binary code—written in 1s and 0s—which is very difficult for humans to work with.
  6. But just as people can understand different languages computers can understand different languages (like Python, C, C++, Perl, Visual Basic, Java, Javascript, Ruby and PHP, among others) which translate our instructions into binary.
  7. There are "low-level" and "high-level" coding languages. Lower-level languages more closely resemble binary code while higher-level languages are easier to code in.
  8. So learning to code is literally like learning a new language (learning to construct sentences, etc.).
  9. Most popular programming languages in use today are high-level languages.
  10. C is a low-level programming language that is good for graphics-heavy applications, like games.
  11. Javascript is for for the web.
  12. Perl is sometimes known as the "Swiss-Army knife" of programming languages because of it's multi-functionality.
  13. Many coding languages share similar basic features.
  14. A text file written in a particular programming language is called a program (think a set of instructions).
  15. There are many ways to learn how to code for free or very cheap.


Featured image via Flickr user Yuri Samoilov.

Chris "Macintosh"