Programming language (17039)

Computer programming has been around since the computer was developed. That statement is almost idiotic. Of course it has. Otherwise, how would the computer accomplish any task other than sitting on the desk and holding down papers?

Any application that the computer runs, or executes, had to be written using a programming language. There are many different languages in which one can communicate with the computer. To many people, computers are black magic. Programming is outside the realm of reality for most. This is not necessarily true. This article will touch on computer programming for the person who doesn't know any more than computers run programs to accomplish the tasks you complete daily.

Writing a formula in a spreadsheet, for example, =C4+C5, which simply adds the values of cells C4 and C5, is nothing more than computer programming. As defined by Wikipedia: A programming language is an artificial language designed to express computations that can be performed by a machine, particularly a computer.

In the interest of avoiding a history lesson and boring you to tears, I will skip the development of the current landscape of programming languages and how we arrived where we are today.

A short list of the languages are named Fortran, Cobol, Delphi, CGI, Perl, Assembler, C, C#, C++, and on and on. Each language has its advantages and disadvantages.

Some languages are interpreted and some are compiled. Interpreted languages must be running their interpreter program to execute the source code. Compiled languages do not need the assistance of their development environment, that is, they can run from within windows.

The code written by the human is called source code. This is normal readable text. A process is completed in which this code is read by a program called a compiler which outputs an executable version of the source code. This is the version that the computer "understands" and can execute. These types languages are called compiled languages.

One of the simplest is called BASIC, which stands for Beginner's All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. "Beginner's" is relative. BASIC provides a powerful means to access the internals of the computer. It is a good language tor non-mathematician types to start with. Since it uses line numbers and executes instructions sequentially, it is a fairly straightforward language. BASIC is an interpreted language, but it may also be compiled. It is also quite powerful in it's own right.

The most common language today is C++. C++ is an object-oriented language that does not use line numbers and is free-form. The source code is written in logical blocks called functions. These functions perform the actions the program requires. C++ is a compiled language. Once a C++ program is compiled, it may be run on a computer running Windows (or whatever operating system it is written for.)

There are also pseudo programming languages, or scripting languages. The best way to describe this is that a set of actions are defined, and a script is generated based on these instructions. This script may then be compiled into an executable program.

It can take years to become proficient in any one programming language to author advanced, bug free software programs. It requires experience, a solid understanding of how the computer executes instructions, and the intricacies of the language itself.

That being said, there is nothing better than having developed your own creation and running it on the computer and seeing it come to life as a real software program!