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Programming explained: 2 minute guide for beginners

Programming explained: 2 minute guide for beginners

Ever wanted to create software from scratch or are curious about building your own applications?

From automating tedious tasks to creating self-learning artificial intelligence, you can do it all when you know how to program!

Programming is a valuable skill to know for countless careers and can be a fantastic outlet for creativity and innovation.

But what exactly is programming? How does it work? And how do you start learning it?

Read our quick guide to start your journey towards a skill that opens many doors!

What is programming?

A computer program is a set of instructions for a computer’s processor to carry out. Programming is the act of creating these instructions to tell a computer’s processor what you want it to do.

The programmer writes these instructions, known as code, with a programming language. While a computer only understands binary (1s and 0s), a programming language makes it easier for a programmer to write out the instructions, which are then converted into binary.

Types of Programming

Programming languages are typically separated into the categories of low-level and high-level languages. Each option has benefits and drawbacks. Therefore, choosing which language to use comes down to what you want to achieve in your end product.

Programming languages are normally separated into the categories of low-level and high-level languages.

Low-level programming

A low-level programming language is closest to machine instructions. Your main low-level choices are Assembly or Machine Code - both tough languages to learn. A programmer who uses a low-level language has increased control over what, how and when processes run.

When to use: Use a low-level language if you want to write a program that needs to maximise performance and control (such as modifying binary programs, or even creating whole operating systems).

High-level programming

A high-level programming language is furthest away from writing machine instructions, typically the language is more human friendly and therefore, less complex. The most difficult instructions can be written fairly easily, compiled automatically to then run at low-level by the processor for you. However, this means the programmer has less control over these complex instructions that actually run.

When to use: Use a high-level language when you want to write a program quickly and aren’t too worried about the performance. Python is an example of a high-level program and is what you’ll use in Moon base as it’s easy to learn and commonly used in the cyber security world.

Programming languages

While many programmers may target their expertise towards one or just a few programming languages, it’s helpful to be aware of some other popular languages. In the future, you may wish to branch out and try learning some of them, as each language serves different jobs or applications.

Front end programming languages
What you see and interact with:

  • JavaScript
  • Web Assembly

Back end programming languages
Behind the scene processes that fulfil the requests on the front end:

  • Java
  • PHP
  • Ruby
  • Python

Ready to become a programming pro? Head on over to Moon base in CyberStart to start learning code in a fun, easy and hands-on environment!

All of these programmes are entirely free, and feature CyberStart!

CyberStart America

What is it?

A fun programme developed to help you discover your talent, advance your skills and win scholarships in cyber security.

Who's it for?

13-18 year old high school students in the US only.

Awesome! How can I find out more?

Cyber FastTrack

What is it?

The fastest and most cost-effective route to a career in cyber security via free training and exclusive scholarship opportunities.

Who's it for?

College students in the US only.

Great! How can I find out more?

CyberStart Canada

What is it?

A free programme teaching cyber security to high school students in Canada through CyberStart's immersive learning platform.

Who's it for?

Students between the ages of 13-18 nationwide.

Nice! How can I find out more?