What is computer programming?

Computer programming is the art of telling a computer what to do through a set of instructions. On this page, you can learn the basics of computer programming and find tips for getting started.

How computer programming works

Computer programming has its own vocabulary to describe objects and concepts. Here are some of the important ones and how they fit together.

HTML code example

Code

Code is a written set of instructions that tells the computer what to do.

Coding and programming

Coding is the act of writing code. Programming is another word for coding.

Computer program

A computer program is a group of instructions (many lines of code) that complete a specific task. Websites, games, and apps are all examples of computer programs.

Programmers

Programmers are the people who write and organize code.

Programming Language

A programming language is code, written in a way that a computer will understand. Examples of programming languages are HTML, Javascript and Python. Different programming languages are used depending on what you are asking the computer to do.

Software and hardware

Software is a collection of code or computer programs installed onto your hardware. Computer hardware is a physical device such as a computer or mobile phone.

Learning computer science in school

How does computer programming relate to Computer Science? Just like reading and writing are fundamental skills you'll learn when you study English, computer programming is one of the fundamental skills you'll learn when you study Computer Science. Computer Science includes many topics that describe the design and use of computers.

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Computer Programming in an Online Community

Once you’ve gotten your feet wet, you can join existing Open Source online communities to work on active software projects. The participants come from all over the world and have a variety of skill levels and viewpoints. This diversity is a big reason open source software is so strong.