In greater numbers than ever now, there are resources online and in libraries that teach users how to code. There are an ever increasing number of programming languages, and software is constantly evolving to suit our needs. So aside from the software developer or engineer, why would you ever need to learn how to program?
Understand the Technology Around You
Most of us use computers every day, whether it is for work or leisure. We use software in the cell phones we have, the tablets we carry with us, the machinery we use at work, the appliances we use to cook our food. The list is endless. From our television sets to our calculators, software has permeated through every aspect of our lives, and yet most people know nothing about how it’s built.
I use the world built here because software isn’t just typed up and applications aren’t just screens with colours and buttons. Creating a single application typically involves hours and hours of work inputting programming logic and understanding the every possible workflow a user may need to go through to achieve a certain task. It involves time testing and debugging, creating interfaces that are intuitive and usable, integrating code that makes the software function the way it does with every mouse click at any possible location.
Learning how to code – even one language – can teach you more about how computers (and how software) works than any manual. Why there are always bugs in a software no matter how much you test it. Why your program crashes when you click that button. Not knowing even the very basics of how to code when software is so integrated into the world around you is much like reading a book and not knowing how to write words on a page. Or living in a house when you don’t know what materials went into its construction.
Gain a New Perspective on How to Think
Most jobs involve interacting with humans more than interacting with computers, and even if you do work on a computer all day, it is from a purely human perspective. Programming software, however, has challenges that you wouldn’t otherwise encounter doing other things. You are trying to create code that is not only usable for humans, but that mimics human logic. It’s like trying to teach a baby calculus. Children learn extremely fast, but you have to start with the very basic building blocks before you can move to the more advanced material.
Programming teaches problem solving and critical analysis. You must be able to take a large problem and know how to break it down into smaller steps. You must be able to code such that those steps are set up in a way that makes it easy for anyone else glancing at your code to understand. You need to be able to take a physical, real world and encapsulate it in the digital. Programming teaches creativity, out-of-the-box thinking, and is a form of art on its own.
With an ever-changing world and ever-adapting technology, more start-up businesses are springing up than ever before. Do you have a fantastic idea you just know will make it big? Many of us have ideas for the next new app, but the execution is where we get stuck. It’s difficult to convince a developer to partner up with you for no initial monetary gain, so if you don’t have the financial resources to hire someone, this can be a bit tricky.
Learn how to code. With many, many resources out there to teach you how to program anything from an Android app to a desktop application, it’s not as difficult to learn how to code now as it was when “apps” first came out. If you don’t want to build your entire product, you can even go just as far as building a prototype. Many investors require a minimum working prototype version before they even consider investing any resources into your idea.
Make Your Manual Work Faster
You don’t have to learn how to program to work on new things, or to create a new business. It can even help you with your existing work. Many jobs involve repetitive, manual tasks to be done on the computer. Tasks which scripts can often handle in a fraction of the time. Learning a scripting language can save you a lot of time at work you would normally spend crunching numbers or moving files around and reorganizing folders. Computers are much faster than we are at these manual, repetitive tasks. Use that to your advantage to lower your work-load.
Learning how to program doesn’t have to be this big, complicated monster under the bed. You don’t have to be an expert to find it useful. Try learning the basics. Sites like codeacademy can give you a good overview of the basics, in a less boring fashion than most class lectures.