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Whether you want to learn about coding or are already enrolled in a coding bootcamp, encountering new terms can be challenging. Understanding coding jargon is essential to growing your programming knowledge and skills.
The glossary below includes words and phrases that form the foundation of programming terms. It serves as a helpful reference and practical guide as you get to know the ins and outs of coding jargon.
Types of Coding Jargon
These terms to know for programming include words and phrases from several broad categories. Programming languages, databases, libraries, and frameworks accompany core programming concepts and components.
Additional key terms include operating systems, specific coding processes, and general concepts that apply to computer technology overall.
Glossary of Terms to Know for Programming
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | X
Active Record: The interface between a database and logic code. It takes data from databases, classifies it, and creates tables; common in Ruby on Rails
Algorithm: Rules or instructions written instruct a computer how to solve a problem
Angular.js: An open-source set of tools to build a Java-Script framework to develop single-page applications; a workaround to make HTML more dynamic.
Application Programming Interface (API): The software intermediary for two or more computer programs communicating with each other
Array: A data structure that can store a similar collection of elements
Back End: The server side of web development that focuses on parts of the website users do not see, such as website architecture, scripting, and databases
Binary: Having only two components; information represented using only two options (often 0 and 1)
Block: A section of code
Bug: An error in code that keeps a program from functioning
Build: To convert source code to a standalone form executed on a computer
Byte: Unit of digital data storage measuring 8-bits
C++: A high-level programming language often used to in game development
Call: A variable in a program or a piece of code
Char: An abbreviation for character often used in programming languages
Class: A template used to create and define data structures or objects; common in Java and object-oriented programming
Client-Side: The operations in a web application that take place on the client end of a client-server structure
Code Review: the stage where people check a program by viewing and reading its source code; vetting code to ensure it works and follows proper syntax
Command: An instruction given to a computer
Compiler: A program that translates computer code from one programming language to another language or code
Constant: A value that does not change during the execution of a program
CSS: Acronym for Cascading Style Sheet, a stylesheet language that helps format HTML webpages
Data: Information stored on or processed by a computer
Database: A collection or set of data used for access, management, and updates
Data Structures: The format used to organize, manage, and store data
Debugging: Finding and eliminating errors in code
Decompose: To break down a problem into smaller problems
Domain Name Service (DNS): The naming system used to identify computers reachable on the internet using IP addresses
DRY: Acronym for the software principle "don't repeat yourself" that emphasizes efficient and easy code
Dynamic Language: A programming language that verifies and enforces constraints at runtime, instead of beforehand, such as Ruby and Python
Else Statement: An alternative statement in programming languages executed if the result of a previous test condition is not satisfied
Event: An action identified by a program that leads to something happening related to system hardware or software
Exception: An unplanned event that disrupts the normal flow of the program
Flowchart: A diagram representing an algorithm or a program
Flask: A web application written in Python source code
For Loops: An instruction to iterate a block of code a set amount of times, as declared by the programmer or the computer
Framework: A pre-packaged set of components and solutions to expedite software development
Front End: The user side of web development that focuses on appearance and functionality
Function: a group of instructions combined into a single line of code that carries out an self-contained task
Git: An open-source code management and version control system
GitHub: A website and cloud-based service where developers store, manage, and share code
Hardcode: Code that includes fixed data; a hardcode can not be altered unless a programmer changes the source code itself
High-Level Language: A problem-oriented programming language with English-like statements and symbols
HTML: Acronym for HyperText Markup Language, the standard language for creating documents displayed via web browsers
Identifier: User-defined program names
Infinite Loops: Coding that lacks a functional exit or ending condition and repeats indefinitely
Input: Data entered into a program to be processed
Integrated Development Environment (IDE): Software used to build applications that combines basic programming tools to consolidate aspects of program writing
Iteration: Each time there is execution of program instructions
Java: Object-oriented programming language and computing platform used for developing web applications
Keyword: A term used in programming that has a predefined meaning and reserved use
Library: A collection of resources for computer programs and software development including prewritten code
Linux: A customizable open-source operating system that relays requests from computer software to computer hardware
Local Environment: A coding environment where the user runs a website from their machine rather than one provided by a web host
Loop (see also For Loops, Infinite Loops, While Loops): A sequence of instructions repeated until an specific outcome or condition is met
Low-Level Language: A programming language that uses numbers and machine-like language
Machine Language: A low-level programming language that includes binary digits or bits understood by the computer
Machine Learning: A type of artificial intelligence that uses data and algorithms to enable systems to learn and predict outcomes without being programmed specifically for the task
MySQL: An open-source database management system with data and code to create software applications
Nested: A code contained within other code that serves a specific function
Null: A keyword or character indicating something has zero value or that the value is unknown, or the absence of data
Object: Sections of data or code developed to write a program
Object Oriented Programming (OOP): Programming that focuses on using objects to write programs rather than functions and logic
Operating System (OS): Software that controls how a computer functions
Output: Processed data or data generated by a computer
Package: Also called namespaces, used to identify related classes and interfaces
Packets: A formatted group of data transferred over a computer network
Pair Programming: An agile software development technique that unites two programmers at one workstation to simultaneously write and review each line of code
PHP: A general-purpose scripting language used to create websites and applications that takes data and presents it on a webpage
Pixel: The smallest display element of an electronic screen or bitmap image
Python: A general-purpose, dynamic programming language that emphasizes readability
R: A programming language for statistical computing and graphics
Ruby: An general-purpose programming language that emphasizes programming productivity and simplicity
Ruby on Rails: A full-stack framework equipped with the tools to build front- and back-end web applications
Scripting Language: A type of programming language without a compilation step.
Scripts: A program or sequence of instructions that other software interprets or carries out
Server: The computer program or device that send data to a network, another computer, and to users
Server-Side: Functions that happen on the server end of a program or operation
Source Code: A list of instructions written by a programmer in a programming language humans can read; a program in its original pre-translation programming language
Sprint: A period of time in which to finish a task
Structured Query Language (SQL): A standardized programming language used to store, manage, and retrieve data in databases
Stack: A structure of elements that operates on the last-in, first-out programming principle
Static Language: A programming language that verifies and enforces type constraints at compile time, such as C++, C, and Java
String: An open-source application framework with infrastructure support to create Java applications
Syntax: Rules that define the structure of a language
Terminal: The text-based interface to a computer where a user can type commands, execute programs, and open files
Testing: The process of running software to evaluate and verify it functions properly
Token: A single element of a programming language; tokens include constants, identifiers, operators, separators, and reserved words
Training: The process of creating a machine-learning model by developing a machine-learning algorithm and providing it appropriate data
Universal Resource Locator (URL): A reference to the address used to locate a resource on the internet
Usability Testing: Evaluating a program or product by testing it on users
User Experience Design (UX): The process of creating products optimal for end users, including interfaces, components, and overall interaction
User Interface Design (UI): The process of building interfaces based on style, look, feel, and interactivity
Variable: A symbol that serves as a placeholder for a quantity that may change; also a name for an unknown quantity
Version Control: The practices of tracking and managing changes to software
WET: An acronym for "write everything twice," the antithesis to the DRY principle
Whiteboarding: Writing code on a whiteboard, often part of technical interviews and group projects
While Loops: Instructions to execute a set of statements as long as a condition is true
Xcode: Apple's integrated environment used for developing software for their products
XML: An acronym for extensible markup language, a simple text-based language and file format for storing, transmitting, and reconstructing data
Get Started in Programming
Common Questions About Programming
Is programming difficult?
Programming is not difficult, it just takes time to learn. By learning programming languages, syntax, and usage, programming can be a fun and useful skill.
What are some basic coding terms to be familiar with?
How do I start learning programming?
What programming language should I start with?
The programming language you should start with depends on what kind of programming you want to do. General-purpose languages can create various programs and applications, while a language HTML is useful only in web development.
Darnell Kenebrew is a first-generation graduate from San Francisco State University's class of 2020. He graduated with a bachelor's in computer science, which helped him kick off a career in tech and pursue roles within data and engineering.
Currently, he's a data analytics engineer at Meta and an executive captain for COOP Careers — a nonprofit for overcoming underemployment. Kenebrew strongly believes in giving people a chance and that everyone should have an equal opportunity within the job market. He believes that COOP Careers helps this equality materialize.
Kenebrew is passionate about how the industry is shaped with data and how data can be leveraged in many aspects of business decisions to meet goals. In addition, he's passionate about inclusion, community, education, and using data for good. He hopes that he can pivot business decisions to make a positive, meaningful impact and that his work will positively impact end-users, as well as meet business goals.
Darnell Kenebrew is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network.
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