Beginner's Guide to Programming -

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What do I need to know no matter what programming language I use?

There are some things you will need to use no matter what programming language you use. Listed below are some concepts that apply to most (if not all) languages. Read through them and you will start to get an idea what types of things you will need to learn to begin programming. If it seems like a lot right now, don't worry! The basic concepts you need to know you will learn one by one as you start programming. The concepts will build on each other until it all comes together and makes sense!

Variables – variables in programming are similar to variables you might remember from your algebra classes. Instead of just holding numbers, variables in programming can hold numbers or text (among other things). Commonly used variable types are: Integer – a whole number (no decimal), Double or Float – a number with a possible decimal, String – a string of letters, words or numbers looked at as text, Boolean – a variable that can be set to either TRUE or FALSE, useful in executing program controls once you get more involved in programming.

Operators – Operators are what you use in a program to work on a variable. Common operators are + (addition) , -(subtraction), /(division), *(multiplication), =(assignment of value, as in X=4), ++(increments an integer by 1), --(subtracts 1 from an integer).

Braces – {} - also called curly braces. These are used to control program flow. Everything in the braces is to be executed as a group.

Functions – Again similar to their usage in algebra, functions are used to do some work (often, but not necessarily, on a variable) to obtain a result.

Include files – Many languages use include files, and this is usually done at the top of the program code. Include files contain some information that the program needs to know in order to run the code contained in the program. Instead of copying all the code into the program (which can take up space and get complex), the compiler will look for the instructions on how to execute the item in the include files as well as the code you have written.