Coding is giving instructions to a computer to solve a problem or complete a task.
We can write more complex definitions and go deep with details but now I want to focus on what you already know.

The key is to take a complex action and subdivide it in a series of simple actions.

Simple actions are combined, repeated until the desired result is reached.

Let’s consider a song

Lyrics are instructions that tell the singer what words (s)he should sing. We can consider them as a single block of text but we all know that a song can be divided in smaller pieces: chorus end verses.

Chorus and verses are combined, sorted and repeated to create a whole song and then a perfomance (execution).

We know that the chorus can be repeated multiple times, so we don’t need to rewrite it every time. We just need to reference it.

I bet you know this one

Every child should know this classic song.

1
2
3
4
Happy birthday to you  
Happy birthday to you  
Happy birthday dear [name]  
Happy birthday to you

As you can see, lines 1, 2 and 4 are just repetitions of the chorus.
So we could write it like this:

1
2
3
4
5
chorus:
    Happy birthday to you (x 2) 
verse:
    Happy birthday dear [name]  
chorus (x 1)

We have labelled the lyrics using chorus and verse and we also wrote repetitions.

One of the key points of coding is repeating an instruction multiple times.
You see, you already know how to do that!

Variable

Happy birthday is a peculiar song. Lyrics always fit, whoever is the person. That’s because we replace [name] with the actual name of the person.

[name] is what we call a variable. It allows us generalize lyrics or a piece of code and reuse it in different situations.

This is just a first step, but realizing that the principles of coding are all around us, will be a great help in understanding the world of programming.

Image from WikiMedia Commons