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How To Learn How To Program a Computer

By Edited Dec 30, 2013 0 0

Are You A User or a Creator?

With the rise in technology over the past number of decades, computers have become ever easier to use. This is mainly due to the wealth of software which has been released for modern computers. Hardware capability improvements have also been very important for the easier to use models. Fine resolution color displays make reading information easier. Disk drive storage is ample for most purposes. The central core of the computer is able to easily respond to the demands put upon it by users. All of this comes at a price that is a fraction of the cost of older machines.

While it is true that computers have become easier to use, they have also become easier to program. The same advances in ease of use have resulted in gains in ease of programming. More memory is available. Central cores are faster. Simple programming techniques as widely supported. Best of all, development platforms are much cheaper than they were in years past. In fact, many of the best programming development tools are free for most purposes.

Luckily, most people can program a computer. Children, youth and adults often have the ability to program a computer. If a person can think logically, they can likely program a computer. The process is similar to the cooking process where one follows a recipe to bake a cake. The difference is that the programmer writes the recipe that makes the cake.

The ability to program a computer is especially important for children. Most children today will use computers virtually for the rest of their lives. They will be entertained by them. They will perform job functions with them. They will communicate to other people, (and computers), via technology. Most every important human endeavor relies on computing power. As children learn how to program, they make a switch from mere users to creators. The creators have the power to direct how future users will accomplish technical tasks.

Programming is easy, at the finest level. Computers understand certain instructions which tell the central core to perform certain tasks. A “comparison” instruction is an example of one. Most programming languages implement comparisons as an if statement. “IF” something, “THEN” something. For example, here is a sample of such a comparison:

IF Amount > 0 THEN print “The amount is greater than zero”

Note that the programming instruction is written in English, or at least a type of derivative of the language. Most of the programming languages are based on English. Consider the following words which are all used by various programming development environments:

IF
THEN
ELSE
BEGIN
END
SWITCH
GOTO
WHILE
EXIT

The words tell the computer to perform instructions that are related to the meaning of the word, in English. The comparison uses “IF”, as shown. “BEGIN” tells the computer to start a sequence of related instructions. “WHILE” introduces a check, usually a comparison as well. Consider this “WHILE” example:

While amount > 0
 BEGIN
 print amount
 amount = amount - 1
 END

Note that this is not an actual computer program. This fragment of code represents what a while statement might look like but it is not correct for any one language. It is, however, easily translated into a number of different programming languages.

Which Programming Language to Learn
Typically, the easiest programming languages are those that are the simplest to both understand and to use as a development platform. It is also important to use a language that has a large number of users. There may be languages that your friends or family members use. Over the past several decades, many programming languages have been introduced. Some have survived the test of time while others have faded away. Most share similarities with each other. Others are uniquely specified, such as APL, and should be avoided by beginners. Good choices for those interested in starting to learn are varieties of C, PHP, scripting and Python. These generally have the benefit of being popular and in widespread use on the Internet. For this discussion, the merits of PHP will be examined.

PHP Programming Language
While PHP was originally an acronym, it evolved into a formal name. The programming language “C” was patterned after the language “B”. Other languages have meaning or not. PHP is an English based language that is popular. With it, small or large applications can be created. It is widely supported on the Internet. In fact, many of the most famous, or popular, web sites rely on PHP.

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