What is Coding? 💻

So you want to learn about coding, huh? Maybe you’re looking at becoming a software developer or software engineer. This is the blog for you! I’m hoping to give you the 10,000 foot view of coding.

Be sure to check out the sponsor of this post, Pramp, where you can get the best preparation for technical interviews.

Code is the basis for every software application. An application is anything that runs on a computer. This includes any websites you visit, games you play, apps you use, etc. Software is now embedded in almost everything, such as all modern day vehicles.

Coding is done with programming languages. There are a ton of computer programming languages: C, C++, C#, Java, Python, Go, Scala, F#, Ruby, etc. Each computer programming language is slightly different and each one has their own keywords.

Coding can be described as a black box. This means that the user does not have to worry about what is going on behind the scenes of an app. If a user opens an iPhone app, they do not care about the code. All they care about is that when they click a button (input), something happens (output).

When something is described as a black box, it is an example of an abstraction. An abstraction hides the inner detail and the user only has to worry about the interface, or how to interact with the program. I like to think of a car.  In order to drive a car, you only need to know to use the interface (steering wheel, pedals, etc). The inner details (engine…other car stuff) are hid away.

There are two primary types of interfaces: a CLI (command line interface) and a GUI (graphical user interface).

A CLI allows the user to interact with your application through commands. This is often done in either a unix terminal or a windows command prompt: Your code will output different things depending on the input given through the CLI.

One of the primary benefits of a CLI is that you can write scripts to interact with your program.

The alternative to a CLI is a GUI, which graphically allows the user to interact with your application through buttons. A perfect example of this would be essentially any app you use on a mobile device, game, etc.

Coders tend to like programs that have a CLI because they can execute commands against the application themselves or create a script to do it for them. Non-coders prefer a GUI as it makes working with the application much easier.

The application that has an interface that can be programmed against is said to have an API. An API (application programming interface). An API will have various commands that can cause the application to do something (this is very similar if not the same thing to a CLI, but you may not interact with it through a terminal). A simple example of an API would be the Twitter API. The Twitter API opens up commands that can be executed programmatically (through another application).

Each command available through the API is known as an API endpoint. Applications will be written to take advantage of these API endpoints. A common example of this would be an application that monitors Twitter accounted through the Twitter API and ranks them socially. Another example would be an application to schedule tweets. Prefer video format? Check out my video: 

Now that you’ve got the absolute basics figured out, I’d recommend you pick up a book covering an area of interest for you.  In the next blog I go over some of the most popular books used to teach programming for various topics (Cracking the Coding Interview for interviews, algorithms, and data structures.  The The Agile Samurai for the software development process) and languages (C, C++, Python, JavaScript, C#, Java, Swift).

So get to it! Here’s part 2.

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