When learning a new language, whether written or spoken, what are the fundamentals? Should being able to understand the language be first on that list? How about having the ability to write fluently in the language you’ve chosen? Maybe, having the knowledge to talk one-on-one with someone who is fluent in that particular language? Learning a new language—such a Spanish, French, German, or even English—has these same fundamental aspects regardless of what language you’re learning, so. . . Why should having the ability to write computer coding be any different?
Computer coding—whether it’s HTML, C++, C, C#, Java, VBA, Visual, SQL, the list can go on—at its core is nothing more than learning another spoken language. People think of computer programming as a challenge, but once you have the basics down, just as if you’re speaking in a verbal language, the code starts becoming easier to read. Computer code has three major parts: The code you write, the compiler, and the machine code. Think of it in a way as if you’re learning Spanish. You don’t just take a trip to Mexico, come back in two days and have become completely fluent, you have to take the time, learn the construction of how it is written, get in depth with writing it, and finally going out and butchering it till someone corrects you and helps you understand it more than you think you do. I was once told by a great friend, who ran a computer programming company:
You are either a programmer, or you’re not. You can go to college, scan articles online, and do research on programming, but that doesn’t make you a programmer. A programmer is someone with a passion for it, someone who will sit there and even when they truly can’t figure out why it won’t work, to push forward and figure out a way around to make it work.
My first major involvement with writing code, learning its syntax, and being able to understand why the program was operating (thinking per say), I leapt into JAVA script. My fiancé, our close friend, and myself had saved up and we all chipped in and rented an apartment together. It was at this—two bedroom, one and a half bath, 1000 square-foot—apartment that my love for the language behind what you see, came to fruition. As I sat there, on a couch (we commandeered from items that our friend’s parents left behind after they moved), enthralling myself in a little Final Fantasy, the idea in the back my mind began to come forth: “What kind of skill does it take to make something so elaborate?” At that moment my mind was no longer intrigued by the 50” images before me, but to the 17” screen that lay to my side, I was fixed on this screen from the time I powered it up, wondering how everything is working together to operate it. Within the first hour of my exploration, I discovered the basic syntax. By the second hour, I had learned of IF, DO WHILE, LOOP, and CASE statements. Skipping forward a bit. . . By hour eight (1:00 am), I had developed my first functioning code. 600 lines, 40 IF statements, two LOOP statements, and a CASE or two. 600 lines to run a program that last in its entirety, 45 seconds. I was ecstatic. At that point, I knew, coding gave me the challenge, the opportunity to do more, to design something as I see fit, the space to allow my mind open freedom after a long day. Computers, video games, technology as a whole, it was no longer a hobby, a fascination, something I did because it was fun, no, it grew into something far more valuable, a passion. A passion that set myself out on to a course that would bring me here to this point, the point of no regrets. No regrets for failing in other areas, forcing myself into a position that I don’t enjoy, trying to be and think in a way that is not who I am. I am a programmer. The challenge is one that I have set for myself. The passion is one that I have willing imbued within heart and mind. Whatever may lie before me, I will always continue to remember that one single night, the one little program, the one stray idea that flashed in the back of my mind, that set me on this course.