How do I start coding?

The demands for the compulsory subject “Informatics” or “Learn programming” are getting louder and louder – rightly so. Because with programming knowledge you can do exciting things – and improve your own future chances. We give you an overview of how you can learn programming.

How can I learn programming?

The evolution of technology and digitalization are advancing tirelessly. More and more of the often quite complex devices must be controlled and monitored by software. This requires programmers. Experts who understand the language of machines or computers and who develop, code and test programs.

No wonder that many people dream of becoming programmers to work for large companies or startups and create computer software or mobile apps. You can make this dream come true, because there is a great demand for computer experts. But the way to get there requires some staying power.

Why should I learn programming?

The desire for an interesting and well-paid job is probably at first glance the best reason to learn programming. In any case, this is the right decision, because programmers are sought-after specialists and they have good earning opportunities and promising career prospects.

If you have programming skills, you do not have to work as a full-time programmer. If you want to continue working in your current profession, learning programming languages gives you a professional advantage. Programming also means abstracting and solving problem complexes. Besides the pure development of programs it is about the development of logical thinking and a problem solving competence – important skills in many professions. Furthermore it is fun, if the computer performs the expected actions and delivers results by the entered lines of code.

What requirements should I bring along?

The career of a programmer is a cumulative process. To build your skills, you need to expand your knowledge day by day and year by year. A programming language can be learned relatively quickly, but writing good programs requires a lot of practice. Programming computers is fun and worthwhile both mentally and financially. There are many ways to reach your goal, but if you want to know if this job is the right one for you, you should attend the following introductory courses at a university or adult education center (or on an online platform):

  • Logic
  • Discrete Mathematics
  • Programming languages

When programming data processing devices, a distinction is made between sequential, procedural, object-oriented, functional and logical programs or programming paradigms. Preferred programming languages for beginners are Ruby, Python and Pascal. Languages that require a somewhat deeper understanding are C++, C# and Java.

Besides programming languages, databases are an important part of data processing. Databases organize and store data in order to retrieve and modify them with special software. Programmers should therefore be familiar with database concepts, tables, views and queries. MySQL or MariaDB, for example, is a free database solution that is frequently used and where the query language SQL is used to access the contents.

What types of programmers are there?

As in many professions, you will need to specialize during your training as a programmer. IT is now too extensive to cover all areas. For example, programmers can be roughly divided into the following categories:

  • Web programmer
  • Application programmer Desktop
  • Application programmer Apps for mobile devices
  • System programmer Desktop, mainframe computers, mobile devices

Which technologies and programming languages you should learn depends on the chosen specialization. Here is an overview:

Web programming

Web applications are software components that are developed for the Internet architecture. This ranges from simple websites to complex client-server applications such as webshops or online games. The application programs for the web are called and executed by web browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Although they are based on the Internet architecture, an active Internet connection is not mandatory. Web applications are based on or use the following technologies:

  • HTTP
  • FTP
  • POP3
  • SMTP
  • TCP
  • IP Protocols
  • HTML
  • XML
  • ASP
  • JSP
  • PHP

The basics of web programming include knowledge of the Internet infrastructure and the basic protocols listed above, web server software, web browsing software, e-mail and other client software. Important components are also the page description languages HTML, XML and CSS. Learning client-side scripting languages such as VBScript or JavaScript is also of great advantage. In addition, there is at least one server-side programming language such as PHP or Python.

Application programming for the desktop

In most cases, desktop programmers write code for specific business solutions, which saves a lot of time for the organizational or financial structure of a company. Desktop programmers should be well versed in the architecture of computer hardware. In addition, knowledge of procedural, object-oriented and functional programming as well as the modeling techniques UML (Unified Modeling Language) or ORM (Object Relational Mapping) is essential. As programming languages Java, C++ or Python and their development environments and frameworks are often used. Desktop programmers should also be proficient in the use of graphical user interfaces.

One variant of desktop programming is game programming. Many games are developed for the desktop. Programmers who want to specialize in this way need deep knowledge in graphics programming and a logically functional programming language like Prolog or Lisp.

Application programmers for distributed systems

Application programming for distributed systems is certainly one of the most difficult tasks of a programmer, because it requires extensive knowledge of computer and communication technologies. It also requires knowledge of network hardware architectures and devices such as hubs, switches and routers. Experience with the Open Systems Interconnection Model (OSI), Ethernet, IP, TCP, UDP and HTTP is also indispensable. Before you start programming distributed systems, you should be familiar with the XML language.

In addition to the core features of programming languages, you should focus on networking distributed systems and developing user interfaces.

System programmers (also called core programmers) use interfaces to the hardware to ensure and control the use of computer resources by application programs. This includes very deep knowledge of hardware and system software such as operating systems, utilities and system-related programs and their programming tools.

The programming languages used here are system-related languages such as ANSI C, C, C++, C# and Assembly Language.

Besides the presented specializations, there are a number of other (very special) applications for programmers:

  • Algorithm design (search, sorting, encryption, decryption, communication)
  • Programming languages / Compiler Design / Optimization
  • Artificial intelligence fields (pattern recognition, speech recognition, natural language processing, neural networks)
  • Robotics
  • Scientific programming
  • Programming of supercomputers
  • Computer aided design / modeling (CAD / CAM)
  • Virtual reality
  • Computer Graphics

If you decide to become a programmer, this is basically a good choice. You have a professional career with many challenges and an above-average salary. What you make of it depends on your flexibility, satisfaction with your work and your plans.

8 steps guide: How do I start programming?

How you can best learn to program computers depends on your personal situation. The following steps can help you to find the right way.

  • Step 1: Be ready to work hard
    The programming of computers is a rapidly changing field. You should be willing to read many tutorials and books. In order to keep up with the fast pace, attending advanced training courses is essential.
  • Step 2: Find a teacher or mentor
    As a lone fighter you will not get far in programming. Find a group, teacher or mentor who will guide you, correct your mistakes and give you feedback. This way you can bridge the gap between theory and practice.
  • Step 3: Choose your path
    Decide which type of programming suits you best. Maybe you will find the road to success in database programming. Or you decide for the versatile web development with its many possibilities. Or maybe you’ll make a career as an application developer. Nobody can make this decision for you, but most programmers know in which direction they want to go.
  • Step 4: Learn the basics of software development
    There is no career without the in-depth knowledge of software development and its tools.
  • Step 5: Gain experience you can build on
    Theory is one part, practice is the other. Wherever it is possible, it means: practice, practice, practice. Use open source software and get familiar with how it works. Then create modules or plug-ins for it.
  • Step 6: Commercial Software Development
    Take advantage of the challenges of the real world and start developing commercial software. Learn how software projects work (and sometimes fail). Communicate and negotiate with customers.
  • Step 7: Certificates are important
    Nothing impresses a potential employer or customer more than a series of important certificates.
  • Step 8: Choose between full-time or freelance work
    A full-time job with a company is less risky. Choose a career model that is based on your knowledge and compatible with your ideas about life.

Where can I learn programming?

Basically you can learn programming by self-study at home, at the VHS, best of course at a university (distance university, distance learning institutes, software companies) or school. The offer is huge and suitable for all requirements. It is important that the degree is confirmed by a certificate.

However, more and more potential programmers are interested in courses offered by online teaching institutes. Anyone who owns a smartphone or tablet can enter the subject online. With these providers you can improve your coding skills.

How long does it take to learn programming?

The programming of computers requires lifelong learning. How long you need for the basics depends on the individual use of your resources. Until you can earn your first money with a program, it will take at least a year.