Programmers often write their code intuitively

The mysterious world of the programmer

At LearningCulture, the theme month “Programming for Children” is in full swing. But not only here is there a lot of interest in IT, the topic is extremely important worldwide. In the media you can read about the new supercomputer in China, about hacker attacks on governments and about intelligent computers that are now even defeating chess grandmasters.

Programmers who write the code for the machines are responsible for these developments. You accomplish things that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. I am sure: the future belongs to programmers.

But do you know what exactly it means to program?

Imagination and Reality of Programming

In action films, the programming always looks very impressive. Neon green lines flicker across the screen at breathtaking speed. You can see complicated mathematical formulas, rows of numbers and sweat on the forehead of the programmer, her fingers racing over the keys. There are only a few seconds left to log into the computers of the enemy intelligence service and overwrite the missile plans.

In reality, none of this is quite as spectacular. Usually there is only time pressure because of the deadlines by the client. And often enough the screens show the same section of the program for hours, in which there is still a small error somewhere that one is desperately trying to track down.

A program is basically nothing more than a recipe for a computer. It describes step by step what the computer should do to get a desired result.

For example, if you have the page

www.learningculture.ch

call, a small program is started that tells the computer (very simply) something like this:

  1. Load the structure of the website as empty colored boxes

  2. Load and paste the text

  3. Load the pictures and paste them

It all happens so quickly that users barely notice the individual steps. The exact order is very important for the computer. Because he just carries out the instructions in sequence.

In order to be able to give the computer instructions in a clear, understandable and unambiguous manner, you have to speak its language: code.

Code is the name given to the precise instructions with which you tell the computer what to do in the shortest and most precise way possible.

Anyone who can write code can control a computer.


The language of computers

One of the first questions is often about the right programming language. In the early days of programming, you still had to program with ones and zeros; many different programming languages ​​have been developed over the last few decades. Newer programming languages ​​are based on the English language and use terms and structures that are easier for people to understand.

The programming language you need depends on the target device and the problem you want to solve. For example, programming a website is very different from developing a program like Microsoft Word, a 3D game for a smartphone, or a washing program for the dishwasher.

All programming languages ​​differ in their commands and the way they work. But they have something in common: they are based on a similar analytical mindset. Those who learn to program internalize this analytical way of thinking.

Therefore, switching between different programming languages ​​is not difficult. Once you have learned one programming language, the second is much easier. And even in most foreign programming languages, you can quickly guess what it is about.

Programming language example: Swift

Swift is a relatively young programming language. It was presented for the first time in 2014. The programming language specializes in developing apps for various Apple devices quickly and easily. So especially for iPads and iPhones.

This specialization in certain devices makes Swift particularly quick and intuitive. Many natural language terms are used. Apple attaches great importance to the fact that the programming language is accessible to a wide audience and that you can get started without much effort.

That's why we also use Swift in our Basics programming course for children and teenagers.

Programming is not that difficult at all

Thanks to modern programming languages, programming is no longer as difficult as many believe. Of course, you need a mathematical and logical understanding for this. Just like creativity.

But all of these skills can be learned. Children in particular usually grasp the concepts very quickly, just as they learn foreign languages ​​much more easily than adults.

You just have to give them the opportunity to do so.

Oliver Richter