What is coding?
You’ve seen the craze for learning code. But what exactly is coding? Coding is what makes it possible for us to create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your OS, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and this website – they’re all made with code.
Here’s a simple example of code, written in the Python language:
print 'Hello, world!'
Many coding tutorials use that command as their very first example, because it’s one of the simplest examples of code you can have – it ‘prints’ (displays) the text ‘Hello, world!’ onto the screen.
Why it’s so important?
It's important to expose children to skills, whether it is mathematics or code or whatever. This is a language that is powering everything that is happening in the world of technology at the moment. And you never know, kids might find they actually have a real talent for it. At the moment, they're not even being exposed to it. That is a huge problem.
Why learn to code?
Learning coding empowers you to do many things you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do. These things include hand-crafting your own websites, becoming a career coder or even starting a technology business. Most importantly, you’ll be able to understand the technology shaping your world.
You’ve undoubtedly heard or read somewhere that everyone needs to learn coding, right? Well, people say that for a reason! Whether you’re looking for a career in the industry, starting a new hobby or just wanting to understand technology, you can benefit from learning coding.
So how does coding work, really?
A computer can only understand two distinct types of data: on and off. In fact, a computer is really just a collection of on/off switches (known technically as transistors). Anything that a computer can do is nothing more than a unique combination of some transistors turned on and some transistors turned off.
Binary code is the representation of these combinations as 1s and 0s, where each digit represents one transistor. Binary code is grouped into bytes, groups of 8 digits representing 8 transistors. For example, 11101001. Modern computers contain millions or even billions of transistors, which means an unimaginably large number of combinations.
But one problem arises here. To be able to write a computer program by typing out billions of 1s and 0s would require superhuman brainpower, and even then it would probably take you a lifetime or two to write.
This is where programming languages come in…
The coding language first has to translate its source code into assembly language, a super low-level language that uses words and numbers to represent binary patterns. Depending on the language, this may be done with an interpreter (where the program is translated line-by-line), or with a compiler (where the program is translated as a whole).
The coding language then sends off the assembly code to the computer’s assembler, which converts it into the machine language that the computer can understand and execute directly as binary code.
But what does this all mean?
Isn’t it amazing to think that something as deceptively simple and primitive as binary code can create things as complex as what goes on inside a computer?
Your screen, operating system, photos, videos, the Internet, Facebook, your online bank account, and this website – all these things can be constructed from nothing but 1s and 0s. It’s a real symbol of human achievement.
Don’t worry if this process seems complicated and confusing – the whole reason that coding languages exist is to simplify it all for you!
At Cheery Robot, we prepare the kids and teens of today for the fast changing world of tomorrow!
Cheery Robot teaches kids & teens computer science, coding, robotics and other valuable skills while having loads of fun in a collaborative and immersive way.