Basic Programming Concepts - Learn the Fundamentals Used in Coding (2022)

In this beginners guide to coding, you will learn the basics used in computer programming languages. As a beginner, you will start learning the fundamentals of coding that you mind find in a “Programming 101” course. We will use some core Java concepts as a starting point that are applicable to most other programming languages.

I'm writing these guides about the basics in a way that I'll assume you have very little knowledge in programming. I want this content to provide anyone “walking in off the street” the basics to be able to write their first program with the Java programming language with as little pain as possible.

So, let's get started with our first topic: The 5 basic concepts of any computer programming language. You might say, “Why are we talking about any programming language? I thought this was about Java”. Well, I've found that it's important to remember that a lot of programming languages are very similar, and knowing the fundamentals that are common among all programming languages will help you transition into any other programming language if you need to! For example, with the core Java programming knowledge I had obtained, it took me less than a month to learn how to program in a language called Objective C (which is used for iPhone apps). That's powerful stuff!

Here are the 5 basic concepts of any programming language:

  1. Variables
  2. Control Structures
  3. Data Structures
  4. Syntax
  5. Tools

I recognize that these words probably look foreign to you, but don't worry, I'll do my very best at taking the mystery out of them. Now, there's a lot to say about each of these 5 concepts, so for today's post I'll only be talked about item #1, variables!

What is a variable?

Variables are the backbone of any program, and thus the backbone of any computer programming language. I like to start off by defining what we're about to learn, so, Wikipedia defines a variable as follows:

Incomputer programming, avariableis astorage locationand an associatedsymbolic namewhich contains some known or unknown quantity or information, avalue.

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Okay, well, that's kind of cryptic. To me, a variable is simply a way to store some sort of information for later use, and we can retrieve this information by referring to a “word” that will describe this information.

For example, let's say you come to my website and the first thing I want to do, is ask you what your name is (so that I can greet you in a nice way the next time you visit my website). I would put a little text box on the screen that asks you what your name is… that text box would represent a variable! Let's say I called that text box ‘yourName', that would be thesymbolic name(or “word”) for your variable (as described from our wiki definition above).

So now, when you type your name into the text box, that information would be stored in a variable called ‘yourName'. I would then be able to come back and say “What valuedoes the variable ‘yourName' contain?”, and the program would tell me whatever it was your typed into that text box.

This concept is extremely powerful in coding and is used constantly. It is what makes Facebook and Twitter work, it's what makes paying your bills via your online bank work, it's what allows you to place a bid on eBay. Variables make the programming world go 'round.

Now, if we want to get more specific, when it comes to the Java programming language, variables have different types. Brace yourself here, as I'm going to try to confuse you by explaining an important concept in three sentences. If I were to be storing your name in a variable, that type would be a String. Or, let's say I also wanted to store your age, that type would be stored as an Integer. Or let's say I wanted to store how much money you make in a year, that type would be stored as a Double.

What the heck are String, Integer and Double?

Excellent question! In core Java, the programming language wants to know what kind of information you are going to be storing in a variable. This is because Java is a strongly typed language. I could teach you about what the difference is between a strongly typed language and a weakly typed language, but that will likely bore you right now, so let's just focus on what a type is in Java and why it's important.

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Typing in Java, allows the programming language to know with absolute certainty that the information being stored in a variable will be ‘a certain way'. So like I said, if you're storing your age, you would use the Integer type… well that's because in Java, an Integer means you have a number that won't have any decimal places in it. It will be a whole number, like 5, or 20, or 60, or -60, or 4000, or -16000. All of those numbers would be considered an Integer in Java.

So what would happen if you tried to store something that wasn't an Integer, into an Integer variable, say for instance the value “$35.38”? Well, quite simply, you would get an error in the program and you would have to fix it! “$35.38” has a dollar sign ($) in it, as well as a decimal place with two digits of accuracy. In core Java, when you specify that a variable is of type Integer, you are simply not allowed to store anything except a whole number.

Specifying what kind of data that you are dealing with allows the programming language to use that data in interesting ways. Again, what I say “specifying what kind of data”, I'm just referring to the type of data.

Let's dive into the power of assigning a type to your data.

What can you do with data types?

Let's start with a simple example.

Your desire is to add two numbers together, let's say the number 22 and the number 3. Java will behave differently depending on the type of the variable that's storing this data.

Let me show you what I mean:

If you have defined your variables to be of type Integer, then adding 22 and 3 together will result in the Integer 25. Makes perfect sense right? Of course, this is simple Math.

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But what happens if your variables are not Integers, but are Strings?

A String in Java is a different kind of data type and it behaves differently BECAUSE it is a different type of data.

When we refer to a String in Java (and in many other computer programming languages) we are treating the data like it's just a plain old sentence in the English language. A String just represents words (or more specifically letters) all placed in a certain order. That's all the English language (or any language) is, a series of characters/letters placed in a certain order to give meaning to what you're writing down.

So now I ask you, what does it mean to add two sentences together? What does it mean to add two Strings together?

I'll show you.

If you were to have two variables, each defined as Strings and they stored the data “22” and “3” (respectively), what would happen if we added them together?

We would get the String: “223”

This might be confusing at first, but it makes more sense when we use less “misleading” data.

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Let's assume that in our two String variables, we aren't storing numbers, we're storing words. So in variable 1 we store the String “Hello”, and in variable 2 we store the String “World”.

Now what happens in your mind if I tell you to add those two words together?

Hopefully your natural instinct is to say that the resulting String would be “Hello World”!

That's all that's happening with the Strings “22” and “3”… Java behaves differently because of the type of the variables.

To Java, the String “22” is the same type of data as the String “twenty-two”, they're both characters arranged in a specific way.

Now I don't want to go into too much detail about types, as this is better suited to the coding basic concept #3 – Data Structures. So that's all I will touch on for now, but no worries, it will all make sense in time!

So, to sum up, we talked about what a variable is and how you can store information in a variable and then retrieve that information at some later point in time. The variable can have a name, and this name you give to the variable is usually named after the kind of content you'll be storing in the variable, so if I'm storing your name in the variable, you'd name the variable ‘yourName'. You wouldn't HAVE to give it that name, you could name the variable “holyCrapImProgramming”, but that wouldn't make a whole lot of sense considering you are trying to store a person's name. Makes sense right? Finally, variables have types, and these types are used to help us organize what can and cannot be stored in the variable. Hint: having a type will help to open up what kind of things we can do with the information inside the variable. Example: if you have two Integers (let's say 50 and 32), you would be able to subtract one variable from the other (i.e 50 – 32 = 18), pretty straight forward right? But, if you had two variables that stored names (i.e. “Trevor” and “Geoff”) it wouldn't make sense to subtract one from the other (i.e. “Trevor” – “Geoff”), because that just doesn't mean anything! So, types are also a powerful thing, and they help us to make sense of what we CAN do with our variables and what we CANNOT do!

So I hope this information has been helpful to you, and I hope you realize what the benefits of learning a programming language are! The allure to learning a programming language is quite high in today's corporate world, as most companies are hiring programmers with the skills to create web applications. The programming profession is one that provides excellent pay and job stability, and in the end, isn't that what we're all looking for?

(Video) Introduction to Coding

To dive even deeper into the subject, you can watch this video I've created on the topic of Variables:


What are the basic fundamental concepts of programming? ›

Variables, data types, sequence, selection, and iteration are examples of these basic concepts, which all new programmers need to learn. In order to compare and manipulate data, and to make decisions in a program, programmers use a variety of different logical, relational, and arithmetic operators.

What are the 3 fundamentals of programming? ›

3 fundamental programming concepts you need to know
  • Object-Oriented Programming Principles.
  • Design Patterns.
  • Data Structures.
May 5, 2015

How many fundamental concepts of coding are there? ›

There are 6 fundamental concepts of coding: We covered the first three concepts in this blog post.

What is the BASIC programming language for beginners? ›

Python. Python is always recommended if you're looking for an easy and even fun programming language to learn first. Rather than having to jump into strict syntax rules, Python reads like English and is simple to understand for someone who's new to programming.

Why is coding important? ›

In simple terms, coding is the process of giving computers instructions in a language that they understand. Why is it important to learn to code? Coding is important to learn because it teaches you important skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.

What is the most basic programming language? ›

The 6 Easiest Programming Languages to Learn
  • Python. Python is among the most prevalent programming languages used today. ...
  • Ruby. Ruby is easy to use, and its syntax mirrors Python's. ...
  • Java. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • PHP. ...
  • PowerShell. ...
  • HTML. ...
  • CSS.

What is concept of programming language? ›

A programming language is any set of rules that converts strings, or graphical program elements in the case of visual programming languages, to various kinds of machine code output. Programming languages are one kind of computer language, and are used in computer programming to implement algorithms.

Where can I learn fundamentals of programming? ›

Basics of Programming I | Codecademy.

What is computer programming concept? ›

Computer programming is the process that professionals use to write code that instructs how a computer, application or software program performs. At its most basic, computer programming is a set of instructions to facilitate specific actions.

What is the most basic programming language? ›

The 6 Easiest Programming Languages to Learn
  • Python. Python is among the most prevalent programming languages used today. ...
  • Ruby. Ruby is easy to use, and its syntax mirrors Python's. ...
  • Java. ...
  • JavaScript. ...
  • PHP. ...
  • PowerShell. ...
  • HTML. ...
  • CSS.

Learn what are the basic OOPs concepts in C++. Learn how to create efficient programs using inheritance, class, objects, polymorphism & more concepts. Click on for more!

OOPs, or Object-oriented programming is an approach or a programming pattern where the programs are structured around objects rather than functions and logic.. In OOPs, it can represent data as objects that have attributes and functions.. In object-oriented programming, it is easy to maintain the code with the help of classes and objects.. Classes & Objects Abstraction Encapsulation Inheritance Polymorphism. You can see that when you call the function using the object of the parent class, it invokes the function of the parent class.. But when you call the function using the object of the child class, it overrides the parent class function and prints the function of the child class.. After reading this tutorial on OOPS Concepts in C++, you would have understood why you need Object-oriented programming, what C++ OOPs are, and the basic concepts of OOPs like polymorphism, inheritance encapsulation, etc.

A Computer Science portal for geeks. It contains well written, well thought and well explained computer science and programming articles, quizzes and practice/competitive programming/company interview Questions.

One of the common and basic questions among students or someone who wants to learn code is “How can I learn to code fast and make a career as a programmer?”.. There are so many online and offline resources available to learn to code easily, quickly, and effectively.. A common mistake beginners do while learning programming is just reading a book or looking at the sample code on their desktop without practicing it.. When you start coding, practice the same code or sample again and again until or unless you don’t need to refer to the same book or resource from where you have learned.. When you start programming as a beginner you will be thinking why should I code by hand?. Teaching someone, sharing your knowledge, and doing discussions with other programmers will make you a better programmer quickly.. So it’s good to find a mentor or take help from fellow programmers to understand concepts easily and quickly.. Sometimes you spend hours and hours to find the bug but you don’t get the solution for your code so it’s good to take a short break, clear your mind and do something else.. If you are good at debugging, it will be easier to learn to program.. You will find yourself later how good a coder you have become by practicing it each and every single day.

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Keep this handy Cheat Sheet nearby as you're learning to code. It includes coding vocabulary, common mistakes, and helpful resources.

Front-end: Everything you can see and click in a browser.. Front-end developers write code in front-end languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create the website appearance.. HTML tag: HTML instructions, usually appearing in pairs.. Attributes are always placed in the opening HTML tag.. Function: A name given to a group of programming statements for easy reference and use.. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are the most common front-end coding languages.. Including attributes outside the opening HTML tag.


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