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Computer Programming, how to get started.

Writing a computer program is basically known as writing code by geeks, computer nerds or whatever you like to call them. I am a technology enthusiast with about five years experience in writing code just for fun and I know the challenges that beginners can face and how to overcome them. Let me start with the FAQs, frequently asked questions.

Do I need to be good in mathematics to do computer programming? The answer is a resounding NO. Your knowledge of mathematics should tally with the level of calculation if any, that your application is expected to carry out. A program to calculate BMI ratio (body to mass index ratio)  only needs the basics that is multiplication, division, addition and subtraction. A program like a cockpit simulator might need advanced mathematical principles and most coders rarely find themselves working in such projects. Coders are basically self-taught and do not need a formal education.

Which language is good for beginners? Most people online believe Python is a good starting point. Well, who am I to disagree with the majority, after all, I learnt Python first before I mastered other languages. Python is great because most of the time there is a 90% chance that every program you write will work, even if the outcome is not what you expected, so it takes out much of the frustration that you might face with other programming languages like Java or C which are heavily typed.

How should I practice writing code? You need to practise a few lines of code at first, for example, a program which asks a user to input their name and then displays the name on the screen. See the example below. Your first programs should perform basic calculations so that you can learn to handle different data types such as strings and number.
To be a great coder you need to stick to using basic tools which are: a text editor and a terminal like Windows Powershell and avoid using IDEs (Integrated Development Environments). However, if you are doing computer programming at college as part of a college program you are undertaking there might not be enough time to use the basic tools. Using basic tools gives you enough control and in-depth knowledge of how computers work. I learnt this principle from a book called 'Learn Python The Hard Way'.

Procedural versus Object Oriented. Both are acceptable, however, procedural is easy but uses more lines of code. Object-oriented programming is the best approach, especially when writing code for a client as it is in the industry's standards of best practices.

What should a coder bear in mind always? Once you learn one programming language you can master any language, there are a lot of similarities. My PHP tutor, I can't remember her name, once said, "Ten per cent of a coders time is spent writing code and ninety per cent reading code". Well, this is very true. Expect to spend much of your time troubleshooting and reading other people's code as well as making your code neat. Brevity is the key, after all, we write code to make our lives easier so always avoid repetition. Use commenting in your code to help people who will read your code understand what you were trying to do. In coding, there are many ways of killing a cat so there is no right way of writing a program but there is the best way of doing everything. Strive to be the best, write powerful code with few lines as possible.

If you have a question that you feel needs to be answered or any contribution or feedback, be at liberty to post it in the comments section. In my next article, I shall be writing about what I find interesting in the C programming language, I am new to it and I'm enjoying exploring it as I write this article.

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