Learn Computer Programming

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Learn Computer Programming & Software Development

Computer programs are a written set of instructions that make a computer do what we want. Without programs, our PC's would just be inert boxes that have no value. Anything that's ever impressed you on a computer was probably first conceived in the mind of a programmer (or developer, as they're known in the industry).

There are many different languages within the industry - many are now out of date and have been superseded by others. Some languages are for very specialist areas only, and others create easy to maintain commercial programs. It's the latter that students who want to learn programming skills should be interested in, as there's plenty of work available for developers who become certified in these languages, and the pay is extremely good.

It's possible to write virtually any program in any programming language, but the most elegant and simple solutions will be those where the best 'tools' (or most suitable languages) were used for the job, as some languages are more suited to certain environments than others. Programming languages have vastly improved over time as technology has become more sophisticated.

To become a commercially desirable software developer, you need to learn programming skills that are widely used. For starters, it's a good idea to learn C# or C++, (the most recent variations of 'C').

In order to explain why learning the 'C' languages is recommended, let's take a quick look at the history: Back in the mid 60's, when the computing industry was just starting out, a language called BCPL was developed to help make writing programs a little easier. This quickly became known as just 'B'. By the early 1970's, the language had progressed and been imaginatively named 'C' (!) Over the years, the language slowly progressed through some changes (C+) until during the mid to late 1980's it became Object Orientated C (otherwise known as C++). Finally, around 2002, a Microsoft .NET enabled version of C++, or C#.NET as we more frequently know it, was born.

Apart from the fact that imagination was rather sadly lacking in the naming department, C has pretty much become the base or root language for all systems development worldwide. It is widely held that if you learn C, then most other languages can fall into place quite quickly - as it enforces quite strict rules on what you can and can't do. This discipline in programming is very important when you're starting out, as bad practices and sloppy programming lead to un-readable code for the next programmer that has to come along and maintain it.

From the purely commercial perspective, we'd recommend that you learn C# programming skills inside Visual Studio, as they're the most commonly used in industry today, and Microsoft certifications are the most widely respected in the development world as a whole. As C# is a good all-round platform, and most languages are fairly similar, it's relatively straightforward to go on and learn more.

If you want an easier learning curve, then start with the web-based scripting languages such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP, MySQL & AJAX. These will move you towards web-development, rather than traditional applications development, but they're easier to start with and get a grounding from home-study.

With our increasing dependence on computers and technology, there's a growing demand for developers around the world. It's fascinating work, where you'll usually be judged on the end results, not necessarily how you got there. This means the structure of how you work can be very different to almost any other job, as flashes of inspiration can come at any time.

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