Introduction to Coding

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Introduction to Coding with Brian Pichman and Chad Mairn

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What is computer programming? A set of commands a computer understands – like a recipe. Computer programs can help cure diseases; drive cars; create video games; make animated movies/graphics; build websites and apps; and much more. Basic coding concepts are used by most every program and most every programmer. To learn more visit

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Why learn to code? Why not? Learn the importance of clarity/brevity of expression. Be able to think and problem solve more accurately. Build something useful and maybe start a business. Have a better understanding of how technology works. Have fun! Do you think it is valuable to learn to code? Why? You are here today, so that is a good sign. ?

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Is coding a cryptic visual of typed languages? Or a process? Or both?

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Computer programming has a reputation of being cryptic and too complex for the average person; however, when you get familiar with basic programming logic you will see patterns everywhere!

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“It has often been said that a person does not really understand something until he teaches it to someone else. Actually a person does not really understand something until after teaching it to a computer, i.e., express it as an algorithm.” Donald Knuth, in American Mathematical Monthly

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Describe in natural language how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

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Some great resources to help you learn to code

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.com Learn to code interactively, for free.

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Some Other Coding Resources Lightbot is a programming puzzle game that gives the user a one-to-one relationship with programming concepts. Try it today at! Hopscotch: Coding for Kids is an iPad programming language. Download it today at . wants to bring Computer Science classes to every K-12 school. Check it out at and find some excellent computer programming tutorials. Scratch helps children create stories, games, animations, and also lets them share these projects with others around the world. More info at is a free iPad app that brings coding to students as young as age five. gives children opportunities to program in order to solve puzzles. is similar. Visit Medium for a “2 minute read” listing other ideas and resources to help inspire children and teens to code. There are several MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and other freely available resources that offer computer programming classes. Coursera, Udacity, and Edx are great examples. Also, Khan Academy has some great resources for kids and adults too! A Google search query for computer programming resources for kids limited to the last year can be found at

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Download it for free and get great handouts at RAPTOR is a flowchart-based programming environment. DEMO

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What is a programming language? A programming language is set of rules that provide a way of telling a computer: What operations to perform Communicating an algorithm Receives an input from the user and generates an output. A programming language is a system for describing a computation (math) or algorithms (logic) in a machine-readable and human-readable form. Has words, symbols, and grammatical rules (natural language) Grammatical rules = Syntax Each language has a different set of syntax rules Has semantics (meaning)

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A Few Basic Programming Components (pretty much regardless of language) Variables & Arrays Operators Flow Control Functions

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Variables & Arrays A variable is a bucket that holds one piece of information. A variable can change value when Specific conditions are met Based on user input Examples (concept) $string_myhomelibrary = “Montgomery Library”; $numeric_variable= 100; $myname = “Brian”;

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Variables & Arrays An array is a type of variable (or bucket) that holds many pieces of information. Example (language doesn’t matter here; the concept does): $FavoriteCities = array(“Orlando”, “Boulder”, “Miami”) $FavoriteCities[0] holds “Orlando” $FavoriteCities [1] holds “Boulder” $States = array(“1” => “Prime”; “FL”=> “Florida”, “CO” => “Colorado”) $States[“FL”] holds “Florida”

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Operators Arithmetic +, -, *, / (add, subtract, multiply, divide) Assignment = (assign the value of 2 to the variable called v) $v = 2; += (“Add the value of 3 to the variable that already holds 1”) $v += 3; // $a now holds 5

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Flow Control Very readable programming languages Sequence Choice (if then, if then else, if then else if) Continual

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Flow Control - Sequence Reads like a book, the instructions are executed in the same order they where given: OPEN the door WALK inside the room SIT on a chair PICKUP a book READ the book.

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Flow Control - Choice With choice, instructions are executed based on variables, commands, outputs, etc.

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Flow Control - Choice If Then if (something is true/conditions are met) { then do this } If Then Else Else: XYZ Starts the same as “If Then” but allows a result if condition is false Else If if (something is true/conditions are met) { then do this } elseif (another something is true/conditions are met) { then do this instead }

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Flow Control - Continual With continual, instructions are executed based on variables, commands, outputs, etc … as they remain true While (or repeat) while (something is true) { do something here } for for (something is true) { do something here }

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Flow Control – Putting It Together 1) Sequence Go to the library Check out a book Read the book Return the book 2) Choice If you have a library card, you can check out books. Otherwise open a library card account. 3) Repeat Continue to read the book till there are no more pages.

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Functions A function is type of procedure or routine A function usually returns a value A procedure preforms an operation but typically doesn’t provide a value Most languages have pre-built or pre-defined functions in its library. For instance, the “delete” function means to “remove”. You don’t have to code what “remove” does; only what to remove.

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Ways to Program Machine Language (Mechanical, Firmware, Drivers) Job Control, Shell Scripting, Text Processing GUI Programming (Graphical User Interface) Types: Application Specific Programming Web Applications / Software Applications Front End Systems (what the users see) Back End Systems

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FORTRAN FORmula TRANslation. Developed at IBM in the mid-1950s. First programming language Designed for scientific and mathematical applications by scientists and engineers. Traditional Programming Languages

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COBOL COmmon Business Oriented Language. Developed in 1959. Typically used for business applications. Traditional Programming Languages (cont’d.)

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BASIC Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. Developed at Dartmouth College in mid 1960s. Developed as a simple language for students to write programs with which they could interact through terminals. Traditional Programming Languages (cont’d.)

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C Developed by Bell Laboratories in the early 1970s. Provides control and efficiency of assembly language Often used for system programs. UNIX is written in C. Traditional Programming Languages (cont’d.)

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C++ It is C language with additional features. Widely used for developing system and application software. Graphical user interfaces can be developed easily with visual programming tools. Windows Based Object-Oriented Programming Languages

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JAVA An object-oriented language similar to C++ that eliminates lots of C++’s problematic features Allows a web page developer to create programs for applications, called applets that can be used through a browser. Objective of JAVA developers is that it be machine, platform and operating system independent. Object-Oriented Programming Languages

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Scripting Languages JavaScript and VBScript Php and ASP Perl and Python Command Languages sh, csh, bash, cmd Special Programming Languages

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HTML HyperText Markup Language. Used on the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW). Web page developer puts brief codes called tags in the page to indicate how the page should be formatted. XML Extensible Markup Language. A language for defining other languages. Special Programming Languages

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Considerations when choose languages Proprietary Microsoft Languages (C#, C++, Visual Basic) Oracle (Java) Open Source PHP Python Standardized Languages HTML Databases Microsoft SQL (Microsoft), MySQL (Open Source), NoSQL (now Apples)

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What do you want to make? Games Mobile Applications Web Applications Software Applications Databases

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When it comes to mechanics of the task, learning to speak and use a programming language is in many ways like learning to speak a human language you have to learn new vocabulary, syntax and semantics (new words, sentence structure and meaning) require continual practice Things to Consider

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Formerly: Run-time performance At one point, a well performing computer was costly, so lightweight languages had to be used, concise commands, and less “flashy” design Now: Life cycle (human) cost is more important Ease of use for both user and programmer Cost of maintenance (debugging, updates, etc) What determines a “right” language

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Part two

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Quick Review Computer programming is a set of commands a computer understands – like a recipe. Basic coding concepts are used by most every program and most every programmer. A programming language is set of rules that provide a way of telling a computer what operations to perform, communicating an algorithm, and receives an input from the user and generates an output. Learning to code will emphasize the importance of clarity/brevity of expression, you will be able to think and problem solve more accurately, and essentially have a better understanding of how technology works. There are a few basic computer programming components that exist in most programming languages. They are variables & arrays, operators, flow control, and functions There are a ton of other great/free resources available online to help you learn to code.

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Download it for free and get great handouts at RAPTOR -- a flowchart-based programming environment. Hands-on with …

Slide 51 See how things on the Web work behind the scenes using …

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SCRATCH Basics  Scratch is a programming language for everyone. Create interactive stories, games, music and art and share them online. DEMO

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Finch Robot – MSRP $100

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Ozobot – MSRP $60

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Lego WeDo / Lego Mindstorms

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Sphero – MSRP $130 (libraries99 code = -30)

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Dash and Dot

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Tickle App

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Hopscotch App

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Slide 61 @cmairn @bpichman

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Contact Us Brian Pichman [email protected] Chad Mairn [email protected]