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date icon May 3, 2024

The Role of Coding in Computing: Explained

CEO & Founder at CodeOp

Are you curious about coding in computing? This article is a great place to start. Learn about the role of coding and how it impacts the technology we use daily.

Coding is one of those terms everyone has heard of, but it can be hard to understand how it works and what it’s used for. While you may not be familiar with what coding is (yet), you interact with code in your daily life more often than you know.

In fact, code has become the backbone of modern technology, from the apps on our phones to the software that powers our fridges, air conditioners, cars, and more.

What is coding?

In lay terms, coding (or programming) creates instructions a computer can understand and execute. These instructions are written in a programming language, a set of rules and symbols that programmers use to communicate with computers.

This set of instructions is known as code.

Once you learn how to communicate with the computer through code, the machine can read, understand, and execute your code to complete tasks on technology ranging from websites to robots.

There are many programming languages with different uses, and it’s common for programmers to learn multiple languages. The primary reason is that bigger projects require several different languages at once.

In addition, learning more programming languages can be beneficial, career-wise, because it makes it progressively easier to understand overlapping concepts.

What is the difference between coding and programming?

Trust me, I have been teaching for a while, and this question comes up a lot! Coding is a crucial programming part but is just one aspect of the larger process.

Programming includes designing, planning, and implementing a software solution, while coding simply translates that plan into a language the computer can understand.

Coding creates instructions that a computer can understand and execute. It involves writing code in a specific programming language to create software, websites, and other digital applications.

While coding is the specific task of writing code, programming encompasses a broader range of activities, including designing, testing, and maintaining software systems.

Popular Programming Languages & Their Careers

Popular Programming Languages

Hundreds of coding languages are available, each with its syntax and purpose. Syntax refers to the rules that control a coding language’s structures, symbols, and punctuation – much like there are rules in how human languages are spoken.

Some of the most popular coding languages include JavaScript, Python, C++, and Java:

JavaScript

JavaScript is essential for creating interactive websites and web applications. It’s the most widely used language for building websites, as it’s highly functional in both front-end and back-end web development.

Frontend development refers to the aspects of a website that users directly interact with—everything you can click, the colours you can see, the animations that may happen, and the things that pop up when you hover over a button.

Backend development refers to collecting information and functionalities that make a website work and how it works.

For example, when you log into your email, the front end dictates your ability to type in an email and password and the short-term function of what happens when you click a button.

All of the information related to your account is stored on the backend, and the retrieval of this information once you click “Log In” also takes place partly on the backend.

The combination of both the backend & frontend life cycles is known as Full stack development – which is why developers who can carry out both are called Full Stack Developers.

Career Opportunities and Job Roles:

  1. Front-end Web Developer
  2. Back-end/Full-Stack Web Developer
  3. JavaScript Developer
  4. Front-end Framework Developer (React, Angular, Vue.js)
  5. Single Page Application (SPA) Developer
  6. JavaScript Game Developer

Expected Salaries:

  • Europe: €35,000 – €60,000 annually for entry-level roles, €60,000 – €90,000 for experienced developers.
  • US: $60,000 – $110,000 annually for entry-level roles, $110,000 – $150,000 for experienced developers.

Learning Curve and Time:

  • Beginner Level (Basic syntax, DOM manipulation, events): 3-6 months
  • Intermediate Level (ES6, Asynchronous programming, APIs, Front-end frameworks): 6-12 months
  • Advanced Level (Full-stack development, Testing, Performance optimisation, Architectural patterns): 1-2 years

Python

Python is often used for data analysis and machine learning. It’s also popularly used to build the backend of websites and apps.

Due to its flexibility, it’s a fairly easy language to learn and is widely used in different fields. For this reason, many scientists and accountants use it for tasks like tracking statistics and budgeting.

Career Opportunities and Job Roles:

  1. Data Scientist/Analyst
  2. Machine Learning Engineer
  3. Python Web Developer (Django, Flask)
  4. DevOps Engineer
  5. Automation Script Developer
  6. Scientific Computing/Research

Expected Salaries:

  • Europe: €40,000 – €70,000 annually for entry-level roles, €70,000 – €100,000 for experienced developers.
  • US: $70,000 – $120,000 annually for entry-level roles, $120,000 – $180,000 for experienced developers.

Learning Curve and Time:

  • Beginner Level (Basic syntax, data structures, libraries): 2-4 months
  • Intermediate Level (Data manipulation, visualisation, web development, APIs): 6-12 months
  • Advanced Level (Machine learning, scientific computing, scalable data pipelines): 1-2 years

C++

C++ is a powerful language used for developing operating systems and video games. While it is considered challenging, it was developed as an easier version of C, a similar coding language.

Like Python, it is extremely popular in machine learning, robotics, and scientific computing.

Career Opportunities and Job Roles:

  1. Systems Programmer
  2. Game Developer
  3. Embedded Systems Engineer
  4. Compiler Developer
  5. High-Performance Computing Engineer
  6. Computer Vision/Graphics Engineer

Expected Salaries:

  • Europe: €40,000 – €70,000 annually for entry-level roles, €70,000 – €100,000 for experienced developers.
  • US: $70,000 – $120,000 annually for entry-level roles, $120,000 – $180,000 for experienced developers.

Learning Curve and Time:

  • Beginner Level (Basic syntax, data structures, OOP concepts): 6-9 months
  • Intermediate Level (Pointers, memory management, templates, STL): 1-2 years
  • Advanced Level (Multithreading, concurrency, low-level system programming): 2-3 years

Java

Java is commonly used for developing websites, mobile apps, and business software. Unlike its almost-namesake JavaScript, Java is only used for backend development. It can be used to develop apps for various environments, such as mobile phones, laptops, supercomputers, game consoles, and more.

At CodeOp, our Full Stack Development Bootcamp focuses mainly on JavaScript, including some frameworks that enable it to work on both the front & back. In contrast, our data science bootcamp focuses on Python.

Understanding the specialities of each language can help developers choose the right tool for the job.

For example, if you’re creating a multifunctional website with a database and many visual components, you might want to consider JavaScript. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an efficient, functional way to represent data trends on a page, Python might be a better fit.

Career Opportunities and Job Roles:

  1. Java Web Developer
  2. Android App Developer
  3. Enterprise Application Developer
  4. Java Game Developer
  5. Big Data Engineer (Apache Hadoop, Spark)

Expected Salaries:

  • Europe: €35,000 – €60,000 annually for entry-level roles, €60,000 – €90,000 for experienced developers.
  • US: $65,000 – $110,000 annually for entry-level roles, $110,000 – $150,000 for experienced developers.

Learning Curve and Time:

  • Beginner Level (Basic syntax, OOP concepts, data structures): 3-6 months
  • Intermediate Level (Java EE/SE, Frameworks like Spring, Multithreading): 6-12 months
  • Advanced Level (Distributed systems, Microservices, JVM internals): 1-2 years

What is the difference between code and markup language?

We’ve touched on that coding in computing refers to creating instructions for a computer to follow to perform a specific task. Other frameworks or tools often make coding languages work how we want them to, and a markup language is one of them.

A markup language is a set of rules and instructions that dictate how a web page looks and functions. Unlike a coding language, it is easily readable by humans and computers.

When we create websites and webpages, coding often involves using markup languages to create and format text and content for display on the web.

One popular markup language is HTML, which stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML is used to create and structure content on the internet, such as web pages and online documents.

XML is another markup language mainly used to define and describe data in a human-readable and machine-readable way. It’s commonly used for web development, data exchange, and other applications where data readable by both humans & computers is needed.

While markup languages like HTML and XML are also used in web development, they’re not considered coding languages as they do not involve creating algorithms or logical instructions for the computer to follow.

Is coding easy to learn?

While it may seem daunting at first, coding is quite accessible, and many resources are available for learning.

With the rise of coding bootcamps and online tutorials, learning how to code is easier than ever. However, it is a skill that requires consistency and perseverance.

For beginners, grasping basic coding concepts and syntax may take 2-3 months with regular practice. Reaching an intermediate level, where one can build simple applications or websites, typically takes 6-12 months of diligent learning.

Becoming an advanced coder proficient in advanced topics like data structures, algorithms, and software architecture can take 1-2 years or more, depending on the individual’s pace and dedication.

While some programming languages like Python and JavaScript are generally considered more beginner-friendly due to their simplicity and vast learning resources, the perceived difficulty will decrease exponentially due to the overlap among coding patterns and techniques.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a direct testimonial from one of my students.

“I’m amazed with how much I learned in my 11 weeks with the full time full stack bootcamp. Before starting I had only done free basic javascript courses online, and my classmates had a wide range of experience. By the end of the class we were all able to create multiple full stack apps.”

  • Maya Tripathy, a CodeOp Full Stack Development graduate

Learning to code teaches you how to create software and applications and helps you develop your maths and problem-solving skills.

Although maths expertise is not necessary to succeed as a coder, post-boot campers will likely feel more comfortable with math concepts after working with code.

Coding can help you think logically and systematically by breaking down complex problems into smaller, more manageable parts.

The Importance of Coding in Computing

Without coding, we wouldn’t have the websites, apps, and programs we rely on daily. Coding also plays a crucial role in innovation and technological advancement, as new software and applications are constantly being developed to improve our lives and solve complex problems.

There are many differences between the first computer built in the early 1900s and the devices we use nowadays—and they’re in many parts thanks to coding and the nearly endless possibilities it allows.

You’re writing code when you tell a computer to upload an image on the screen. Watching videos, changing font sizes, and opening your email requires coding. But when you perform these tasks, you don’t see code.

It’s only the words and images that the programmers have asked the computer to display.

Coding also runs cities. Computers operate traffic signals that have been programmed to perform certain operations. Next time you’re crossing the street, think about how it was made possible with code! While some traffic lights are based on sensors, many work with timers.

The timing commands for lights changing colours can be written into code and then uploaded from a computer onto a programmable circuit board. This circuit board is mounted near the traffic lights and subsequently controls its function, similar to the image below.

Some of these innovations have become so embedded in how we currently function that it is hard to imagine a time without them.

Virtual Assistants: Coding has led to the development of virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa, which can help us with tasks like controlling lighting or heating and locating lost devices.

E-commerce: Amazon Fresh recently launched a “Just Walk Out” experience, enabling shoppers to pick up groceries and walk out of the store. Items are tracked and paid for on their virtual cart.

Hiring Practices: Gone are the days of printing CVs and walking around, sometimes returning to establishments with completed paper applications. We can complete the application process far from the job location with a code.

Government Services: Code-based interfaces have made student loan applications, vaccine registrations, filing taxes, income assistance, and many other services easier. Facial recognition is being increasingly used when scanning passports in international airports, which has helped make the verification process 90% faster.

Being able to have fun with code!

Besides all the life-changing and world-changing stuff that code is responsible for, there are also many equally impressive, fun, less essential things it could do.

One example is the iconic 2010 meme Nyan Cat. No one knows what prompted the existence of the pixelated cat with a pop tart body and a rainbow tail floating in space, but it has brought joy to many people.

The adorable game Flappy Bird is another great example. Why did someone make this? I’m not sure. Did it have 50 million downloads within the first six months of release? Absolutely—and rightfully so.

The Future of Coding & How It’ll Shape the World

Without coding, modern technology would not exist. And as technology advances, coding will become even more important in shaping our world.

Artificial Intelligence

With the rise of artificial intelligence and machine learning, coding will be essential for creating and improving these technologies. ChatGPT and Claude, popular AI interfaces have risen in fame recently due to their versatility. From quirky conversations to resumes and even code writing, interfaces like these could change how people work.

Climate Change

Coding will continue to play a crucial role in developing new technologies to address global challenges like climate change. Carbon emissions data is often stored and sorted manually, which can be taxing due to its magnitude. Automating this can increase data accuracy, improving the resolutions that can be obtained.

Healthcare Advancements

The Biotech industry is leaning more and more on code as time passes. AI, bioinformatics, and data analysis made possible the fastest-in-history development of the COVID-19 vaccine.

In addition, patient management systems like Jane’s make it easier for patients to find healthcare providers and maintain clinic operations. Healthcare information management also used to require shocking amounts of paperwork. Still, those days are no more, now that information about medical visits can be easily encoded and stored in patient databases.

As such, learning to code will become an increasingly valuable skill if you want to impact these fields.

Conclusion

Learning to code can be a fun and empowering experience, as it allows you the satisfaction of building an entire project based on what was once just an idea.

It can open the doors to a whole new community and network of like-minded individuals who share your passion for technology. Many coders find the experience addictive and rewarding, as they constantly learn and improve their skills.

“Before the bootcamp, I would start a lot of different projects that would not go far at all as I couldn’t even do basic CSS. I managed to complete the bootcamp with loads of theoretical knowledge but also with three good projects that I continued to work on afterwards and which helped me to get a job as a developer.”

  • Lina, a CodeOp Full Stack Development graduate

Coding can put a whole lot of unimaginable creations at your fingertips.

Author: Katrina Walker
CEO & Founder at CodeOp
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, I relocated to South Europe in 2016 to explore the growing tech scene from a data science perspective. After working as a data scientist in both the public...
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