What is Coding? A Complete Guide to Coding Languages

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 20 January 2023

Published 18 October 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Coding, or computer programming, involves using computer languages to create software, websites and applications. For computer programmers, software engineers and other information technology professionals, coding is an essential skill. If you are interested in this field, it is beneficial for you to understand what coding is and read about some coding languages that are in use today. In this article, we discuss what coding is, how to learn to code and some popular coding languages used today.

What Is Coding?

Coding is a process or skill that is crucial to the development of all computer programs, software applications and webpages. In order for a coder to tell computers and devices to follow a certain set of instructions, they convert the instructions into languages that computers can understand. The languages that a computer can understand are coding languages.

Different languages serve different purposes, and coders may use each for a variety of reasons. Since coding happens in a variety of languages, coders may be proficient in one or more of these languages. Coders create back-end processes and also implement the final user experience.

Related: Top 60 Coding Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

What Are Some Common Coding Languages?

If you are interested in software development and programming, it is beneficial to identify a few programming languages to start writing code in. These are some popular coding languages which are used by programmers in a variety of domains:

C++

C++ is one of the oldest coding languages and is a modification of the older C language. Coders can use it to create instructions for a variety of applications and purposes. It may be one of the most widely used languages, as C++ programming is still prevalent in present-day computers and older devices which only support and recognise C++.

CSS

CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is more of a designing language than a programming language. You can use it to format a website by altering the fonts, colours and layouts of web pages. You can use it with other languages that are more function-oriented. Hence, it is very popular among web developers. CSS is a front-end language and its focus lies in creating a user interface and designing the aesthetic elements of a webpage.

Related: Essential CSS Interview Questions and Answers

HTML

HTML or HyperText Markup Language is the basic code language that is used for website development. Coders use it to create elements for web pages and to implement the functional aspects of a website. Many professionals use it in conjunction with CSS, with CSS coding for the design elements and HTML code to prescribe the functionality. While HTML has many formatting options within itself, using CSS for the formatting often produces concise and clean HTML code.

JavaScript

JavaScript is another language that is popular among website developers because of its extensive application and diverse functionality. It is typically used to code the instructions for dynamic website parts that define user experience and interaction. JavaScript is also used to code animated graphics, multimedia snippets and other visual elements that are updated automatically on a webpage. HTML, CSS and JavaScript form a foundation for website development tools, allowing developers to work simultaneously on the front-end and back-end of a website.

Read more: What Is JavaScript?

Python

Python is an advanced coding language that relies on a thought process called Object-Oriented Programming or OOP. It has several dynamic components and functionalities, and coders use it extensively in a variety of applications and industries. It has high compatibility with several other popular programming languages and coding applications. This makes inter-language connectivity and translation effortless. You can also use Python to manage embedded data structures and large databases. Hence, this language is prevalent in domains like data science and analytics.

Related: Java vs Python: Key Differences and Similarities

SQL

SQL or Structured Query Language helps programmers manage and analyse information stored in databases. Most organisations use SQL to maintain large data volumes and to perform operations such as sorting, organising and extracting data. For example, a company may store employee records in an SQL database. This makes certain operations very easy to perform. If a company wishes to search for all the employees who were born after 01/01/2000, it can extract this information using a simple query. SQL is also widely used to develop analytical algorithms for data stored in SQL databases.

XML

XML or eXtensible Markup Language is very similar to HTML in terms of syntax and its application. Coders primarily use it for web development purposes. Websites often collect a variety of information from their users. This information has to be stored in different formats for either the developers to analyse or for quality assurance purposes. XML is used to store and manage the information associated with a website. This includes information that is present in web pages and the information that a site collects from its users.

Related: 9 XML Interview Questions With Sample Answers To Prepare

How To Learn To Code

If you are interested in a career in software development and computer programming, it is important for you to learn how to code, in one or more languages. Follow these steps to learn coding:

1. Pursue formal education

While it is not compulsory for a coder to be a computer engineer or have a formal education background, it is beneficial to pursue a professional certification or degree. These credentials can improve your employability and give you a competitive edge. Some companies may require programmers to complete an undergraduate course at the very least.

Postgraduate degrees can make you eligible for administrative positions. Popular undergraduate courses include B.Tech (Bachelor of Technology) in Computer Science Engineering (CSE), B.Tech in Information Technology (IT), B.Sc (Bachelor of Science) in Computer Science and BCA (Bachelor of Computer Applications). Popular postgraduate courses include M.Tech (Master of Technology) in CSE, M.Tech in IT, M.Sc (Master of Science) in Computer Science and MCA (Master of Computer Applications).

Related: How To Share Your Education Background

2. Identify a few languages to start learning

Since there many programming languages to choose from, it is beneficial to first identify one or more languages that are useful to learn. Each language is unique and has specific uses, applications and functionality. Try to understand the compatibility, usability and versatility of a language before you invest time in learning it. For example, you could look at the languages that are particularly in demand and start learning those languages.

If you are interested in web development, you can learn languages that are made for that purpose, like CSS or HTML. If you are interested in back-end functionality, you may benefit from learning C++ or Python. If you wish to work with datasets and become a data scientist with coding skills, you may benefit from learning a combination of Python and SQL. Your choice of language can determine the type of work you do. While most languages have their own rules and syntax, the underlying fundamentals of programming are similar across all languages.

3. Take part in online certification programmes and competitions

To pursue a career in coding, you may have to provide verifiable proof of your skills and capabilities to potential employers. While formal academic qualifications can indicate subject knowledge, certifications and competition titles can show employers how you apply coding knowledge to real-world scenarios. Websites like Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera offer online courses that you can complete at your pace.

You can also find online forums and platforms where participants maintain an elaborate discourse on coding practices and useful resources. Competitions allow you to test your skills against the skills of other practitioners in the field. Taking part in coding challenges and competitions can progressively improve your level of expertise and knowledge of programming. When you secure competition titles or awards, you can share them with potential employers to indicate your level of expertise in a particular language or domain.

Related: How To List Certifications on a Resume (With Examples)

4. Work on personal projects to gain practical knowledge

After acquiring theoretical knowledge of coding, you can put it into practice by working on personal projects. Try designing and building applications, websites and software programmes to understand crucial workflows. These projects can be published on platforms or added to your portfolio. Sharing a product of your creation can give potential employers a comprehensive understanding of the extent of your knowledge and practical abilities. Such accomplishments are as relevant as formal qualifications in a job search scenario.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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