National Coding Week: What Is Coding?

Talking To Machines

Coding is the programming language used by people to communicate with computers and machines. There are many different computer languages built for specific jobs for the computer to perform.

Some coding languages are used to run operating systems while others are used to set the visual displays on the computer screen. They are being updated all the time with small modifications to develop speed and ease of use with developers.

You probably come into contact with a programming language every day.

Coding Is Old News

Coding is defined as a language used by people to communicate with computers and machines. It is easy to see this as being a modern concept but programming machines to carry out automated tasks has been around for 100s of years.

Joseph Marie Jacquard created a programming language which automated a loom to produce textile designs. This method used cards with punched holes to programme the looms pattern and was developed in 1804.

Not unlike today this piece of modern equipment was met with resistance from the work force. Textile workers were concerned this machine would take their jobs as it was able to produce patterned textile without the use of a large workforce.

The First Computers Were Analogue

A mechanical engineer from Britain invented the first programmable computers. Charles Babbage is known as the Father of The Computer, as he invented the first one of the first mechanical computer.

Initially developed to aid navigational calculation he realised his “Revolutionary Difference Engine” could be used for more General jobs, it could be programmed to perform different tasks.

Due to the political situation in Britain at this time Charles Babbage government funding was cut.

With thousands of handmade parts, the machine was deemed too expensive to develop.

The Electrical Computer

In 1938 an electromechanical computer was installed on a submarine. It used electricity to drive switches which then drove mechanical relays to produce calculations.

They were used for trigonometry when calculating the trajectory of torpedo’s targeted at moving objects. These computers were notoriously slow and created a need for faster machines and computers.

With a need for speed, the electric computer rose to dominance and would eventually become the modern computers we use today.

Website Languages

Modern computers use an array of languages, to run their software and programmes.

There is also an array of languages used just for websites, which are generally broken down into frontend and backend. Most websites are built on platforms such as WordPress or Drupal, many of these use a programming language called PHP, which is used to fetch information from the websites database.

PHP is known as a backend language; because it fetches the relevant information before the information is displayed to the user. There are many other backend languages and some companies have chosen to use alternative backend languages.

The main rival to PHP is Python which is easier to learn but not as quick as thelatest PHP version. Python also translates to phone applications easier than PHP.

Sites like YouTube have chosen to use Python as their backend language.

Front End Design

HTML is arguably one of the easiest languages to learn, it is the raw output for any website. HTML is used to display data served by PHP.

This is where the backend programming interacts with the front-end languages to be displayed to the users.

HTML is the most basic structure for a website and it is generally thought of as the scaffolding for the basic design elements of a site.

Once the HTML has been designed, a developer will generally move on to CSS which stands for cascading style sheet.

CSS is a language used to manipulate HTML elements to displays as different colours, fonts and shapes. CSS is a powerful tool for any developer to learn, it allows websites to become a uniquely visual experience to the users.

To add another layer of sophistication to a website many web developers will utilise languages such as Javascript. This is perfect for creating transition effects and user events.

Any website which features a slider or photo gallery uses .js (JavaScript) to program these features.

To learn more about National Coding Week which runs until the 20th September 2020, click here