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The Difference Between Knowing Syntax And Knowing How To Program | Touchstone Words

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The Difference Between Knowing Syntax and Knowing How to Program

By Shane Staret on 2018-06-14

As a programmer, it is incredibly important to understand a language’s syntax, or the defined symbols in the language that a programmer can use to determine what the program they are writing actually does. Syntax is different in every language and the syntax in a language can even change a bit if there are updates done to the language. However, syntax is quite easy to understand, as it is likely learning grammar or learning a new spoken language. Knowing how to program, however, is much different because it is like knowing a different way of thinking.


When I was first learning how to program, it was confusing and things didn’t click. Sure, I knew how to write the code, but did I actually understand what was happening on a fundamental level? Not really. Learning the syntax of a language is very easy, but actually learning how to program in any language when first starting out is not. I personally that the best way to learn is to practice and that could not be any more true when it comes to learning how to properly code. When practicing, you will make a ton of mistakes and probably get frustrated, but it is worth it because you learn of ways to overcome those failures that you can utilize on later and better projects.

I like to think of learning how to program as being similar to learning how to ride a bike. Once you understand the fundamentals of programming, it is really easy to switch between languages, especially if they are similar in syntax. And you never really forget how to program. It’s almost like you have learned a completely different way to think. And that “new” way of thinking is through using logic and reasoning to solve a specific problem. Honestly, I think that even if you have no intention in becoming a programmer as a hobby or for your career, you should still learn the fundamentals because they help you in real life situations. Using logic to solve a problem is almost never a bad solution and learning how to code teaches you how to do this properly.

In a way, you can say that syntax is like the words of a language, whereas the actual programming is the meaning behind the language. So, while two different programming languages can have completely different syntax, they accomplish the exact same things fundamentally. And once you understand how to program and accomplish certain things while programming, you can carry that over to a new language once you get used to the new syntax.

Overall, I think the important thing to pick up from this article is that programming is not about learning syntax and memorizing how to actually write the code. Rather, it is learning a new way to think that can even be applied in real life situations. If you focus on the words that you are writing on screen rather than the concepts and theories behind those words, then you will almost certainly fail and won’t be able to fully comprehend what the code you are typing is actually doing.

Programming Languages and Resources for Web Developers
The easiest way to learn coding is via web design programming. You should lean coding languages that are in use by millions of sites. HTML, CSS (or HTML5 & CSS3) PHP, MySQL, JavaScript (or JS frameworks like jQuery, Angular, React, Node, or Express) or MongoDB, Apache, Ruby on Rails, and Linux are all related to web design coding. For beginners interested in learning more about web design and development, here are a list of step-by-step training guide articles: i- Become CMS specialist, ii- Become front-end specialist, iii- Become expert SQL developer, iv- Become expert PHP developer


Discussed coding languages are well suited for those interested in pursuing a career in web design and development; however, other options are mobile App design and development, system admin and software engineering. It is advisable to consult with an IT counselor to understand what options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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