• » What it Computer Programming?

    Today, most people don't need to know how a computer works. Most people can simply turn on a computer or a mobile phone and point at some little graphical object on the display, click a button or swipe a finger or two, and the computer does something. An example would be to get weather information from the net and display it. How to interact with or use a computer program is all the average person needs to know.


    But what is computer programming?  It’s a series of actions a computer follows in a particular manner to carry out some task.  Of course it’s a little bit more complicated than that.  The person using the computer program may do something unexpected, for example they might enter their name when the computer asked them for their age.  The computer program needs to be able to manage these and other expected and unexpected events.

    As a computer programmer, your job will be to instruct the computer to do things.  Writing software (computer programs) is describing how to do something.  In its simplest form, it is similar to writing down the steps it takes to do something - a process, or a series of stages.  The lists of instructions that each programmer writes are computer programs, and these instructions manipulate various types of objects, e.g., numbers, words, images, graphics, etc.

    An important reason to consider learning about how to program a computer is that the concepts underlying this will be valuable to you, regardless of whether or not you go on to make a career out of it.  

    To make the computer do something useful, you must give it instructions in either of the following two ways: 

    1. Write a program that tells a computer what to do, step by step.
    2. Buy a program that someone else has already written that tells the computer what to do.

    A program does nothing more than tell the computer how to accept some type of input (such as your name, age, credit card number etc.), manipulate that input, and spit it back out again in some form that humans find useful.

    The most difficult aspect of programming is identifying all the small problems that make up the bigger overall problem that you're trying to solve. Computers aren’t clever, they just follow instructions.  If the instructions do something clever the computer looks clever.  It is your job to provide accurate step-by-step instructions.  If you do it well you will make the computer look clever although it’s really you, the programmer, who is clever.

    Programming isn’t all that hard, you just need a little imagination and a little persistence and an interest in problem solving.  The most common mistake new programmers make is that they get too ambitious and try to write very complex programs.  When the programs don’t work they get frustrated and decide it’s too hard.  Therefore you should start off with an introductory programming environment such as SIMPLE (Simple Modular Programming Language and Environments).  For some simple programming practice you might look at: http://www.simplecodeworks.com/website.html.  This is just one of a number of freely available introductory programming environments available free of charge on the web.

    When you have gained a little experience and you feel more confident, you might take a look at more advance programming sites such as: http://marshallbrain.com/kids-programming.htm.

    As you gain experience in programming you can move onto Java by downloading the free Java SDK and an editor such as jGRASP which you use to work with your Java programs.  Java is a great programming language but it can be challenging for beginners to learn on their own.  Don’t worry about Java until you feel comfortable with the basic principles of programming first.