What Is a Programming Language?
A programming language is a language used by Developers and Programmers to create websites, software programs, and more by giving computers a set or series of instructions to execute.
Although there is some overlap between different web languages, most programming languages have their own syntax, structure, and language rules.
Different programming languages have completely different possible applications. Programming languages can be used to build websites, desktop and mobile applications, computer games, databases, scripts, and much more.
Why Is it Important to Learn to Code?
It is important to learn to code because of the many potential career applications of coding skills — whether or not you plan to actually write your own code yourself — and because learning code will build out other soft skills like critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving.
Coding skills are in high demand and crucial to a number of careers, including web development, software engineering, data science, business analysis, web design, and many more. Even if you're not looking for a highly technical role, knowing how to code — or just building your coding literacy — will give you an advantage over others in the job market, increase your earning potential, and help you collaborate more effectively on cross-disciplinary teams.
Learning to code can also empower you to create your own app, start your own business, or pursue freelance work. Once you've learned to code, it will also give you a different perspective on the countless software, websites, and apps that you use and work with every day.
How Long Does it Take to Learn to Code?
How long it takes to learn to code will depend on your goals, educational background, and professional experience, but if you are highly motivated to learn to code as quickly as you can, you could build coding skills in anywhere from three to six months.
The amount of time it takes you to learn to code will change drastically based on how many programming languages you are aiming to learn, as well as how you plan to apply your new coding skills. If you're aiming to learn just enough to craft a simple website, you might only need a few weeks of practice.
For students looking to learn more than one programming language, it does help that there are certain core computer science concepts that apply to most languages of the web. Some core programming concepts that most languages have in common include sequencing, syntax, data structures (including variables and data types), control structures, and tools (for tasks like version control, editing text files, or scanning code for bugs).
What Are the Most Popular Programming Languages?
It is worth noting that surveys of the most popular programming languages in the world usually exclude HTML, CSS, and SQL because they are deemed markup, style sheet, and database management languages respectively.
How Many Programming Languages Are There?
There are now hundreds of different programming languages. Depending on how you define a programming language, some sources estimate that there are around 700 programming languages (including obscure languages), while others count thousands. Even if we limit the count to fairly notable languages, there are anywhere from 150 to 250 programming languages still being used regularly in a variety of different ways.
Why Are There So Many Programming Languages?
There are so many programming languages because they have so many different and highly varied applications. Many programming languages exist to perform specific functions, some of which can be highly niche and specialized.
Some of these programming languages are low-level languages, which means they are more machine-friendly and are generally not read in a way that is instinctive to people. High-level programming languages are considered more intuitive to use but might offer the Developer less control over computers.
What Are the Most Important Programming Languages to Learn?
Other important languages to learn include Java, R, and C, in addition to crucial web languages that aren't classified as programming languages including HTML, CSS, and SQL.
What Is the Easiest Programming Language to Learn?
Most Developers consider Python to be the easiest programming language to learn because its code is written in English, it is supported by a huge and helpful community of programmers, and because of the amount of whitespace that Python uses in its visual formatting.
Python is also considered the easiest programming language to learn for beginners because it is compatible with most operating systems, Python code can be moved between different platforms easily, and because Python syntax can be read and remembered more easily than other programming languages.
Can I Teach Myself How to Code?
Yes, you can teach yourself how to code, and there are many working Programmers who are completely self-taught.
If you want to teach yourself to code, you could decide what you want to develop (a website, game, app, etc.), select the programming language that best suits that purpose, and begin diving into online coding classes and tutorials, free online resources, and reference books to build out those skills at your own pace.
That said, learning to code can be difficult, especially for people who do not have a background in computer science, so pursuing a coding bootcamp or a similar program would be the fastest way for most people to learn to code. And if your goal is to eventually qualify for a job that requires coding or a career in a technical field like web development or software engineering, you will most likely need some kind of formal technical training.
What Is the Best Way to Learn How to Code?
The best way to learn how to code would be to first clearly define your learning goals, learn coding basics through free online tutorials, webinars, and resources, consider attending coding bootcamps, and finally work on your own coding projects.
Because computer programming has become such a crucial skill across so many different fields and industries, the Internet is full of articles, online courses, instructional videos, and more to help people learn the fundamentals of coding.
Coding bootcamps have also exploded in popularity for the same reason, with many people finding that an intensive coding bootcamp is the most efficient and best way to learn core coding concepts while gaining the hands-on programming experience needed to launch a new career. Many of BrainStation's bootcamps and courses help students learn to code with different programming languages, while our Web Development bootcamp is specifically geared toward students who want to learn coding to pursue new careers.