programming language

Basic programming vocab for designers

As a designer, its not expected that you have a extensive and complete knowledge of programming but having a fundamental understanding of programming is helpful and even essential for those in web design. Here are some of the concepts that you will find in almost all programming languages.

Variables

Variables are used to store data and set values. Variables typically have an identifying name and value. (such as x = 3) This is similar to the concept of variables in math.

Arrays

Similar in concept to variables, arrays can hold many variables under a single name.

Syntax

The syntax of a programming language is the set of rules that govern the structure. Think of the syntax as the words and grammar of the language itself.

Conditional Statements

Conditional statements (sometimes called conditionals) are used to make decisions based on certain conditions. For example a conditional can allow JavaScript to perform an action if a variable is greater than or equal to “3”.

Loops

Loops repeat a defined set of code over and over. They are usually paired with conditions to ensure they don’t loop forever.

Functions

A function is a block of code that does something. For example, the prompt function displays a dialog box asking for user input.

A great way to learn some of these concepts is through Code Combat, which is controlled through writing simple code.

Visit CODE COMBAT to have fun learning basic code.

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Demistifying Javascript

JavaScript is a programming language made for web browsers which was initially made for basic image display, text and data but in the 1990’s Netscape developed it into what you see today. It is a language that allows web developers to make all manner of user friendly web items  possible. It allows for a  dynamic and user friendly experience. It handles complex procedures in the online environment such as making live feeds of sports updates and validating user data.

You may be familiar with HTML and CSS. HTML is a markup language. Unlike a markup language which is excellent at organizing elements, Java Script adds a bit more bang for your buck as it is a programming language which means it has more capabilities then HTML.  JavaScript can not only tell the browser how to arrange the web elements, just like HTLM,  but it can interact with the browser in such a way that it is more like a conversation with the browser, rather then just a set of instructions.

As a programming language, JavaScript is based on logic, algorithms and math. Even though this may seem like it is outside the arena of graphic designers, if you want to get into web design, it is important to understand how to implement programming languages such as JavaScript to create awesome functionality to websites.

JavaScript is converted into machine code and interpreted by the web browser. This was initially a major issue in the 1990’s, as each browser interpreted JavaScript differently and some elements would not work properly from one browser to the next. JavaScript requires a browser to convert the script into something workable.

Hopefully this brief overview was helpful in demystifying JavaScript.