Beginner's Guide to Programming -

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How do I program?

There are basically two steps to any program. Programming enthusiasts may disagree with me here, and as far as deep programming doctrine they would be correct. As far as the new user is concerned though, there are two steps you need to know right now. Write and compile.

Writing the program is the process of breaking out your instructions step by step and instructing the compiler to do those things in the proper programming language. Your first step is to figure out exactly what you want your program to do, step by step. It is helpful to write this out on paper (often called “psuedocode”). Once you gain more experience you will start to see the value in doing this, so don’t worry too much about it right now. Keep in mind though when you write larger programs that have 10, 20, or even 100 or more steps and/or options available to the program or user, mapping everything out on paper first will be an invaluable tool. One you have your steps figured out, you will want to write your program in the language you have chosen. Whatever programming language you choose, it will have specific word and styles to do different things. Much like we use words and punctuation every day, so do programs. The good news is that it really doesn’t take long to get familiar with a language and style. The bad news is most languages are quite different in the verbiage and punctuation! Don’t worry about that for now though, your main goal is to become proficient in a language that is useful to you.

Compiling your program takes your written program in text form and translates it into an executable (usually) that can be run by the machine. For example, if you wrote a simple program to display a picture in a window, when you compile the program it takes the code you wrote and creates the executable command you click on in windows to run the program. When you run the program, the picture displays as you have commanded it to.

After you write and compile, you will want to test your program to see if you are getting the desired results. If you aren’t getting the results you would like, you will then need to test your program you errors (commonly called “debugging”).