{title} Coding, Simplified {/title}

Binary Code

When most people think about coding, images of hack-athons depicted in Aaron Sorkin’s “The Social Network” or heist movie robbers cracking into a bank’s mainframe come to mind. People assume that coding is an esoteric skill that can only be acquired by geniuses. Nowadays, programs like Codecademy along with the easy accessibility of information on the Internet makes it easy for average people to easily learn coding basics.

Coding is the way people go about creating software, websites and writing instructions for hardware. Without code, all of your favorite websites, mobile apps, video games and virtually everything digital would not exist. What makes coding so complicated is the variety of different coding languages software engineers and developers use to create digital mediums. While there are literally hundreds of programming languages used today, I will briefly describe three of the most prevalent within webpages: HTML, CSS and Javascript.

1. HTML

HTML is coded using brackets and is a publishing language that provides structure to websites, among other things.

HTML is coded using brackets and is a publishing language that provides structure to websites, among other things.

HTML, or hypertext markup language, is the language that webpages are written in. HTML gives webpages their structure and allows coders to create titles, headings and subheadings, make a bulleted or numbered list, delineate paragraphs, put text in bold or italics, add pictures and links to their site and much more. HTML is coded using brackets to create sets of “tags” that serve as instructions for setting different parameters within a website. Tags are places around text or images in a page, to make the text or image do specific things. It’s more like a publishing language, or a set of rules for page layout.

2. CSS

Example of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

Example of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS stands for “Cascading Style Sheets”. CSS can be considered as a series of rules or guidelines that coders use to effect and dictate display properties of elements within webpages such as text, colors and layouts. With CSS, it is easy to apply a set of rules to one or multiple HTML pages by embedding the CSS within the HTML page or a separate file. CSS helps with consistency and ensures that webpages keep information displayed in a proper format.

3. Javascript

javascript

From HowStuffWorks:

JavaScript is what is called a Client-side Scripting Language. That means that it is a computer programming language that runs inside an Internet browser (a browser is also known as a Web client because it connects to a Web server to download pages). The way JavaScript works is interesting. Inside a normal Web page you place some JavaScript code (SeeHow Web Pages Work for details on Web pages). When the browser loads the page, the browser has a built-in interpreter that reads the JavaScript code it finds in the page and runs it. Web page designers use JavaScript in many different ways. One of the most common is to do field validation in a form. Many Web sites gather information from users in online forms, and JavaScript can help validate entries. For example, the programmer might validate that a person’s age entered into a form falls between 1 and 120.

Codecademy

Luckily for the majority of people that cannot pick up a book or look at a website about coding and make sense of it, programs like Codecademy exist to make it easy to learn some coding basics. Codecademy is a free website that allows users to take several free classes and sections which describe and give tutorials for many different programming languages such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, PHP and Ruby. Users are awarded badges for their completion of certain tasks and lessons.

Codecademy is a great resource for anyone who wants to pick up some coding essentials without having to enroll in a computer science class. Here are some shots from my two-hour session on Codecademy.

codeacademyprofile codeacademyprogress

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