Just started programming? Or maybe you’d like to become a programmer? Listen up!

Maybe you have a passion for computers. Maybe you have a passion for learning. Or you might need a new job, and you realize the prominence and importance of programming. Whatever the reason may be, you want to expand your knowledge, and more specifically, expand your programming knowledge.


One of the biggest mistakes I made during the beginning of my programming experience was being glued to PHP. PHP being my first language, I saw no reason to learn any other language or to even bother reading why other languages exist. Boy, was I wrong. You know a programming language? You’re a programmer. Don’t limit yourself to one language. You will only impede your programming knowledge, and along with it, your career. Be open to changes. PHP5.4 today is very different than PHP4. Yes, that’s right. Programming languages have versions. Code design for PHP5.4 will not execute on a server with PHP4 installed.

Computers are an everyday changing industry. JavaScript was initially released in 1995, and it is now in 2012 that every website you visit uses JavaScript for major features. Chances are you’ve heard of jQuery. Guess what it’s written in? JavaScript.

All programming languages support the most basic expression: an if() statement. Below is an example of an if() statement in three very popular programming languages.


if (25 < 100) {

echo ‘Twenty five is less than one hundred! Big surprise.’;



if (25 < 100) {

cout << ‘Twenty five is less than one hundred! Big surprise.’;




if (25 < 100) {

alert(‘Twenty five is less than one hundred! Big surprise.’);


All three code snippets above process the following logic. The below is also called pseudo-code. From Wikipedia: “pseudo-code is an informal high-level description of the operating principle of a computer program or other algorithm. It uses the structural conventions of a programming language, but is intended for human reading rather than machine reading.”

If [The Number] 25 < (Is Less Than) [The Number] 100 Then

Print to screen: Twenty five is less than one hundred! Big surprise.

Without getting deep into detail, you can see that these three languages chosen here each share the exact same if() syntax, however when it comes to displaying the output to the user, they have their slight differences.

Don’t worry, a very basic code snippet was shown to you for the sake of example. These three languages (PHP, C++ and JavaScript), in fact, have three, completely distinct purposes.

From Wikipedia:

PHP is a general-purpose server-side scripting language originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages.

C++ is a statically typed, free-form, multi-paradigm, compiled, general-purpose programming language.

JavaScript  is a prototype-based scripting language that is dynamic, weakly typed and has first-class functions.

In layman’s terms, PHP is for building dynamic server-side websites, C++ is for computer programs (Microsoft Office for example is written in C++, along with the majority of Microsoft’s other products), and JavaScript is for building dynamic client-side websites.

2. The most experienced, highest-paid, binary reading, number crunching problem solving programmers were once in the same boat as you: zero programming experience and knowledge. But they wanted to learn. And they did.

We learn as we go. Do not try to get ahead quickly, you will only frustrate yourself.

Programming is challenging. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this article. It can also be very intimidating. Notice the key word “can.” Programming is not intimidating. Remember Math class? When the professor would first write the topic of the day on the board, the whole class would let out a “Huh?” However, as the professor breaks down the topic, and begins to explain, things begin to make sense. The same idea applies to programming.

Even the most seasoned of programmers can be intimated by an unknown program. It’s simple. Programming, while very monotonous and robotic, one might think there is only one way to do a certain thing. However, that is the farthest thing from reality. The same solution can be written in various forms, and yield the same result.

The same happens in programming. The initial programmer creates a solution for a problem (a program). As the problem grows, the program grows. More lines of code are added. More files are added. Before you know it, even the initial programmer has a tough time remembering what file a function is in, or what parameters a function calls for. And all this code has been written by the same programmer.

Let’s say the company the programmer is working for has now requested newer features in the program. The new features require knowledge the programmer does not have. The company hires Programmer B. Programmer B now has to learn the entire program before making any changes. This is normal. However, if Programmer B does not take their time, and decides to rush through things, they will only delay the addition of the new features.

When programming, we must keep the general idea/purpose of the program in our mind. However, when programming, we must also focus on the current code, or feature at hand. We can’t write efficient code for feature X while feature Y is the only thought in your mind. Slow down, read, line by line, and take in what you are reading. Looking at code superficially does nothing but confuse you. Take your time.


Striving for perfection is unrealistic, as perfection is subjective and what is perfect for me might be the exact opposite of perfect for you. Without getting too deep into philosophy, all programs have bugs.

During the development process, these bugs are noted of and are fixed (or, like we programmers like to say, “ironed” out). Even the most perfect programs have bugs.

Don’t get discouraged when an error from the server/compiler has been thrown at you. While nobody likes to see errors, we must understand that the error exists because we wrote it. How interesting is that? Therefore, errors are important. In fact, errors are good. They show you what you need work on. They remind you to keep your syntax tight. They are there to help you. The process of encountering a bug, opening the file that the conflicting code resides in, and fixing the bug is what is good, both for the program and the programmer. The program has now less bugs. The less bugs, the better. The programmer, learned what caused the bug, and simultaneously, learned how to fix the bug. It is a Win-Win scenario.

4. Practice Makes Perfect

A potential baseball player can buy hundreds of books on how to bat, how to catch, how to run, the list can go on. However, not until they step on the field, pick up the bat, and swing, will they really be practicing. You can read all the programming books under the sun, but if you never open a text editor, you’ll never be a programmer.

Once you grasp a basic knowledge of programming, you’ll enjoy it. You will find yourself wanting to write code; looking for problems that can be fixed. Invest in programming now, as all of our surrounding are becoming computers. Guess what computers run off of? Programs.

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