Writing code has become a crucial part of creating millions of products that our society uses daily. Code is the foundation for all computers, from the one in your cellphone to the one running a NASA satellite. Due to the prevalence of computers, learning to write code has become one of the most sought-after skills in the modern employee. In this article, we discuss what computer code is and look at some steps and tips for how to successfully write code.
Read more: Computer Skills: Definitions and Examples
What is code?
Code is the language that all computers "speak" and understand. When computer programmers write code they issue instructions to a computer and tell it which actions to perform and in what order. Computer coders use different programming languages to communicate with specific systems. Computer code is comprised of strings of typed letters, numbers and figures which constitute a language, complete with spelling rules and syntax. Code is used for an extremely wide range of activities, from building websites to flying airplanes. Anything that you can do that involves computers functions because of code.
Read more: Learn About Being a Computer Programmer
Why is code important?
Code is used for websites, cars, televisions, cellphones, airplanes, gaming consoles and thousands of other products. The need for skilled computer coders continues to grow as more companies are producing "smart" or computer-equipped merchandise. To keep up with the demand for computerized items, manufacturers need innovative and dedicated coders to write quality code for new products. The ability to read and write is an incredibly useful skill and can greatly increase your value as a team member or employee.
How to write code
There are several different methods and paths you can use when learning how to write code. Here are our suggestions for some steps to get you started:
- Set goals
- Choose a language
- Find a resource
- Download an editor
- Start practicing
- Continue learning
1. Set goals
Before you begin writing code, it is a good idea to take some time to consider your goals. Are you hoping to find a new job? Are you looking to acquire a valuable skill? Do you want to earn some extra money as a freelancer? Your goals will affect your decisions as to where and how you learn to code and how much time you will need to dedicate to this pursuit.
For example, if you want to become a certified expert in coding, you will probably need to get a Bachelor's Degree in Programming, Software Development or a similar field. However, if your goal in pursuing coding is just to learn an interesting new skill, you should be able to find all the information you need using free resources. The most important part of setting goals is determining how much time and energy you will be able to dedicate to coding.
2. Choose a language
After determining your goals, you will need to choose a coding language to learn. The specific language you pick is not as important as you may think. Any computer language that you choose to study will introduce you to important coding fundamentals like structures, commands and programming logic. You might not end up using your first language as a part of your job, but you will gain valuable experience through the process of mastering it.
3. Find a resource
Once you know what you want to learn, it is time to consider your resources. There are dozens of quality options available for people who want to learn to code. If you are hoping to land your dream job in the computer programming industry, you may want to start by pursuing a computer science degree on a college campus.
If you prefer to learn in the comfort of your own home, you can enroll in an online program through a university or private service. If you enjoy teaching yourself, you might find borrowing computer programming books from the library, watching how-to videos online or using other free resources to be your best option. The effectiveness and practicality of each resource will depend on your individual learning style and schedule.
4. Download an editor
To write code on your personal computer, you will need a text editing program. At their most basic level, most programming languages are plain text, which means they can be written using almost any simple text editor. Common options include Notepad++, TextWrangler and JEdit. Many programming languages have downloadable editing programs that are created specifically for that language. The best program for you will depend on your budget and which language you plan to use most often.
5. Start practicing
Once you have picked up some skills by taking classes or watching online tutorials, you will need to put your knowledge into practice. One of the best ways to learn to code is by simply doing, even if you find yourself making mistakes. One of the easiest ways to start is by picking a simple project that you think you will be able to complete. This could be designing an HTML website, creating a database function with PHP or writing a simple program using any of the basic languages.
There are hundreds of how-to videos and articles available explaining how to complete tasks like these using a variety of languages. Using your resources, practice writing code for your project until you know the process well enough to complete it on your own. Then, you can move on to something even more complex. Coding is a skill that comes through repetition and the more you practice, the easier it will be.
7. Continue learning
As your coding proficiency grows, you will be qualified to advertise your services, apply for jobs and even pursue certification. As you go about finding ways to use your coding skills, it is important that you continue to learn. The computer industry advances and evolves each year, with new programs and techniques regularly being invented and implemented. To remain competitive and informed, you will need to look for ways to continue improving your skills. Methods for writing code will advance and develop in the years to come, so your skillset will need to evolve at the same rate.
Tips for writing code
Here are some useful tips for how to write successful code:
- Start simple. Coding is a technical skill that has the potential to be overwhelming for new learners. Be sure to start with simple projects and languages that suit the skills of a beginner. If you are dedicated and a hard worker, you will be capable of working on more advanced tasks in just a few months.
- Be patient. Coding is a skill best learned through hours of practice. Before you will be able to fully design a website or create a video game, you will need to put in considerable time and energy. If you are patient with yourself and with others, you will be able to maintain a positive attitude and outlook throughout your learning process.
- Persevere. While writing code, you are certain to come across issues, glitches and bugs that threaten the functionality of your entire project. In some cases, the only way to fix them is to keep trying different solutions until one works. This can be frustrating, but if you are willing to persevere and stay on task, you will be more equipped to solve similar problems in the future.
- Connect with others. One of the best resources for coders are local coding clubs or associations that consist of like-minded individuals. There are also thousands of online communities that you can find through social media or private chat rooms. Having a network of coders that you can contact will be a valuable resource as you continue to grow your skills.
- Find your passion. If coding is not fun for you in some way, you may find it difficult to stay energized or engaged. To improve your coding experience, seek out projects or tasks that interest and inspire you. If you are not excited about the coding you do as a part of your job, choose a passion project that you can work on from home. Completing projects that challenge and entertain you will help you preserve your love of coding and avoid burnout.