Computer programming involves giving a computer a set of instructions to create, develop, perform tasks and solve problems. These set of instructions are known as “code”; a language that the computer can understand and read to carry out the procedures and writing the code is known as “coding”.
Like people, computers can understand various different types of language. The different types of code range in their difficulty of use, abilities and tasks they can achieve. Let’s touch on some of the different “codes” or “programming languages” that are out there, what they can do and how they are used.
First appearing in 1995, Java is one of the most popular coding languages that is used for a variety of tasks from mobile apps (specifically Android), web applications and servers, databases and developing video games.
Originating back to 1991, Python has risen dramatically in popularity in recent years in part due to its versatility as well as its simplicity. The clean, short, simple code allows developers to write programs in fewer lines than other programming languages which can make coding with Python easier to learn and quicker to use. As well as it’s uses in web and software development code is also very popular amongst data scientists and mathematicians as Python can handle big data sets and perform complex analysis. All of these factors make python a very popular skill for employers as well as a coding language that is popular in schools and education.
Slightly less well-known and popular than the previously mentioned, R is a programming language and free software environment that is extremely popular amongst academics, healthcare professionals and data miners for uses in statistics, data analysis and graphical visualisation. R is a lot more specific in its nature which make it great for creating models and custom-built analyses programmes, however it makes it less versatile in its uses as well.
Technology is a dominating nearly all industries as well as daily life, therefore it’s no surprise that coding is desirable skill among the workplace. Though fundamental for computer scientists and software developers it is also useful for finance and business advisors, researchers, healthcare professionals and many more.
Learning code is now starting at a really young age with many games catered at kids in order to introduce them to the principles of coding by using instructions and problem-solving skills to address different situations in a logical manner. The types of games available for kids range from board games such as “Thinkfun Robot Turtles Board Game” and robot building kit “LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox” as well as online games and apps such as “codeSpark Academy” and “Hopscotch”. However it’s not just the young ones that are taking on this new skill. There are many online tutorials out there aimed at adults and for complete beginners.
For Christmas conservation biologist Kirsti Owen wrote a 25 R advent calendar aimed at teaching you the basics of R in 25 days. By following her website, you can download the 25 text files which guide you through the coding of R from the very basics. Though we are halfway through the advent at this point you can still download the files and catch up from the beginning to learn this new skill.
You can also find many other free useful resources to start your journey in code. YouTube provides many follow along tutorials with freeCodeCamp and Programming with Mosh giving you some great resources to learn popular language Python and many more. In addition to that online sources such as github and w3schools provide great examples, guidelines and information to supplement your learning and to help you discover new code and applications for whatever language you are learning.