Getting started in computer programming

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written by owen on 2005-Apr-13.

Computer programming in general is about solving problems and avoiding errors. It is defined as;

creating a sequence of instructions to enable the computer to do something

Computer programs are written by programmers. Whom spend most of their time trying to figure out the best way to solve a problem using the tools or languages which they know. Knowing a language is crucial because a programmer will never be able to solve a program problem unless he or she knows how to solve the problem. So the next question is how does a programmer learn to solve problems?

Problems usually have many solutions

The more problems you have solved in the past the easier it is to solve future problems. In effect the more expirience you have solving problems and writing code - the better programmer you become over time. Most problems are solved in a number of ways

  • Trail and error - spend an amount of time trying different bits of code until you come up with an answer.
  • Research - finding somebody or some information on how to solve a problem.
  • Experience - you did something similar before so this problem can be solved basically the same way.

Step 1: Getting started

You need to find a nice little language in which to write your code. Finding a nice language is important. You should be able to setup and run you program without any help from anybody. Some people may need programming books or tutorials. Make sure you have the help files that come with the language so that you can look up the meanings of errors you will encounter. Nice languages have nice help files that you can read and understand. Some errors are not in the help and you have to ask a human to explain it. Seek professional help.

Step 2: Find a problem to solve

Once you up and running with one or two simple programs you learned in class, tv or got from somebody, you should find yourself a problem to solve. It is important for you find a problem of your own choosing so that you will be committed to solving it. It could be a calculator, game or operating system it does not matter - everything starts somewhere.

Step 3: write the program

Start writing your program. It may take you 2 days, 2 months or 2 years to solve the problem depending on how big the problem is or how quickly you learn. In some cases problems are never solved and are left waiting in a file somewhere. It is important not to rush through when writing your program - keep a steady pace. If a problem come up often times it is best to just shutdown you machine and go to sleep.

Step 4: Re-write the program

A program usually never comes to a state of completion. You will realise that the closer you come to completing it the more new solutions appear. So you either stop writing the program at some point or you keep messing with it indefinitely.

Step 5: Find another problem

After you reach a point in your first program and your show it off to your friends, you will need to find a new project to work on. The more problems you solve the better you will become. Note that sometimes a problem cannot be completely solved.

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  1. I agree, especially with step 3, you dont have to rush, even when you have people like owen who have made php skills and you feel like you need to get to that level yesterday. As owen says "Rome wasnt built in a day" IF you rush your self youll get overwhelmed and quit, or have tons of unfinished projects hanging around the place like me.

    by alex 2005-Apr-15 

  2. Gd day, I'm a complete beginner, however I'm interested in learning a programming language but have no background knowlegde of any. What are the critera's in choosing a language & what are the prerequisite?

    by Dextrous 2005-Sep-01 

  3. Most people start out programming in whatever language they have access to, either through a school program or a friend. I don't see there being any prerequisites, if you have an interest and are willing to stick at it. Some people like books, others take beginner courses or download tutorials off the internet. qbasic is pretty simple but old.

    by owen 2005-Sep-01 

  4. very interesting .......... very useful n' effective steps....

    Moretime !!!

    by foot 2005-Sep-05