By Kate Schefer, Digital Products Coordinator
Computer programmers continue to be one of the most sought-after positions in all industries. But what about those of us who don’t have a formal tech background? Many people still have never taken a course in any digital capacity, let alone one focused specifically on computer languages and coding. But plenty of us are doing fine in our modern age. So how are we able to keep up?
Coding Concepts are Everywhere
The truth is that we’re constantly applying the basic principles of coding in everything we do. Let’s take examples of a few professions that many of us consider far from technological and see how those people put coding concepts into practice every day.
Conditionals. In coding, conditionals are commands that tell the computer what to do “if” something is true or false. “Then” they take that action. Picture a doctor in the Emergency Room. You go in with a stomachache and they evaluate all your various symptoms to determine what might be wrong with you. “If” you have a fever, if the pain is sudden and dull, and if it’s on your right side, “then” you might have appendicitis. The doctor is checking off “true” or “false” boxes in their mind while diagnosing you, so “then” they can treat you.
Loops. And not just loop-de-loops at air shows. In coding, loops are a single action that the computer runs until it achieves the expected result. Pilots take off from an airstrip and ascend “until” they reach a cruising altitude. Then they fly toward their destination “until” they are close enough to land. Then they descend “until” they reach the ground at the airport. Sometimes they have to navigate storms, accommodate turbulence, or take orders from air traffic control, but even then they have set actions that begin a new loop that continues until the issue is resolved.
Algorithms. Algorithms are the recipes of the coding world. They give step-by-step instructions for the computer to follow in order to achieve a set outcome. A chef follows recipes in order to make a meal. To make cookies, “first” they must pre-heat the oven and take out a baking sheet. “Then” they must mix together the wet ingredients. “Then” they fold in the dry ingredients. “Then” they scoop the dough onto the baking sheet. “Then” they bake the cookies in the oven until they’re done. And if they’re really good, they’ll let the cookies cool before digging in!
Bug/Error fixes. Not every code or script works the first time. Bugs and errors come up when computer programmers run tests so they can see what they haven’t accounted for. They identify the gaps in their “logic” and fill them in with clearer, more specific instructions. When someone is writing a novel, they usually start with a broad outline of their characters, the plot, and how they think it should be resolved. It technically has all the components of a novel, but it lacks “logic.” So they go back in and write scenes, give their characters backstories, create conflict, and arrive at a much more satisfactory resolution. They may even have their friends or editor read the story to provide feedback on the “bugs” in it. Then they revise and revise until it’s a logical and complete book.
Try It Yourself
There are so many more real-world examples of how we code, but if you’re looking for another type of crossover, consider our titles for beginning programmers. These books break coding concepts into their simplest parts, include tons of easy-to-understand instructions and illustrations, and make it fun with rhyming or familiar characters. They’re sure to engage every type of learner and make coding accessible to anyone.