Programming For Non-Techies

Programming For Non-Techies

Computer programming is the process of giving a computer a set of instructions to perform some task.  It encompasses everything from analyzing the problem to implementing the solution.  If you’re a non-techie and you want to create something, or maybe you want a job in tech. We can help you!

Let’s Learn Programming

Computer programs start out as source code.  If you have heard the term “coding” before, it’s just the act of writing that source code.  The source code is written in a computer language.  What happens next depends on the specific language.  Some languages are compiled.  The source code is run through a compiler which then translates the source to machine instructions.  Other languages are run through an interpreter that execute the instructions without having to compile first.  However, the end result is always the same.  The computer will have a set of instructions that it can run to do something.

Hello, World

Programming languages are all very similar.  They all have a set of syntax rules that define how the code will look.  Let’s look at this example in Java:

public class HelloWorld {
   public static void main(String[] args) {
      System.out.println("Hello, World");

By the way, you will see “Hello, World” examples a lot.  We will save the history lesson for another day, but there much value in such a simple program.  It confirms that you were able to setup everything and get a program working.  Whether this is your first program or you are learning a new language, it’s a very important step.

What this program will do is output the text “Hello, World” to the console, or screen.  The first couple lines define the name of the class and the method.  We will come back to that later.  The next line is a comment.  Comments are used to document what the code should do, but do not .  They are crucial if you are working with others.  Finally, we get to the line that prints Hello World.  Notice the semicolon at the end of the line.  Many languages, but not all, require a special character to designate the end of an instruction.  The last two lines just close the braces from the previous lines.

What do I need to get started?

Source code can be written in any plain text editor.  That would be Notepad in Windows or TextEdit on a Mac.  For anything other than Hello, World you really need something better.  As a result, there is something called an Integrated Development Environment, or IDE, that makes programming much easier.  An IDE will highlight the source code to make it easier to read along with many other features.  Eclipse is an IDE that will run on Windows, Mac or Linux.  You will need to install Eclipse if you want to try out these examples yourself.

The first step is to download Eclipse.  Go to   Some details on the page may change after this writing, but the first step is to make sure you select the correct Operating System.  Then download the Eclipse Installer and run it.  If you don’t already have Java installed, you will need it.  Luckily it will tell you.  When it does, select The Java8 JDK and install it for your Operating System.  Once the Eclipse Installer comes up, select the Eclipse IDE for Java Developers and complete the installation.

Now what?

Launch Eclipse.  You can use the default value for the Workspace.  When it comes up click on Create a Hello World application and follow the prompts.

Come back every Friday for a new lesson.

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