Computer programming and software development are two of the hottest jobs you can get. The average salary for a computer programmer was $84,280 as of 2018. That’s one of the highest salaries you can find with minimal educational requirements.
Increasingly, you don’t even need a Bachelor’s Degree to break into the programming industry. More and more coding boot camps are becoming available with each passing year, so there are ample opportunities for retraining and reskilling.
That’s one of the reasons computer programming and software development is one of the hottest jobs around. Powerful new tools like a source code editor mean you don’t even have to be a command-line ninja to work as a programmer.
But what is a source code editor, exactly? Let’s find out!
What Is A Source Code Editor?
To truly understand what a source code editor is and does, you need to understand what ‘source code’ is. Consider it the DNA that the internet is built on. Let’s look at an example by way of an illustration.
Take a popular website like Wikipedia. When you go to its homepage, you’ll see the familiar graphic and logo, with the subtitle ‘The Free Encyclopedia.’
If you right-click on the homepage, however, and select ‘view page source’ you’ll see a very different reality, however.
The front page of Wikipedia actually looks like this:
document.documentElement.className = document.documentElement.className.replace( /(^|\s)no-js(\s|$)/, "$1js-enabled$2" );
That’s just a small percentage of almost a thousand lines of code, but you get the drift.
We must remember, the internet is made to be read by machines, not people. Some fancy computations have to happen behind-the-scenes before you’re able to access the slick interfaces, the search bars, and fancy fonts we think of as the web.
Our example gives a good illustration of why source code editors are so mandatory, as well. Consider the <script> element, for example, before the document variable. Notice how the following line has the </script> command. The / closes that particular element, letting the source code compiler know that style is no longer needed.
The problem is if you don’t close your command your code won’t compile. You’ll just get an error, sometimes written in fairly obscure language letting you know that something’s wrong. If you have any programming experience, you’ll like to know what a pain it is to use an error code to debug a software problem on Google.
Although this example makes it seem fairly obvious, there can be thousands of lines of code for even a simple website. It can be hard to remember to close all your tags and format things correctly, not to mention remembering the correct syntax for every command. Which is where source code editors come in.
Let’s go back to our initial question then. What is a source code editor? A source code editor is a text-editing program specifically designed for writing software. They can be a standalone solution or part of a larger Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Many are even free and open-source, like this alternative to Notepad++ Mac.
The Benefits Of Source Code Editors
We’ve already touched on some of the reasons you might want to use a source code editor but let’s delve into that issue more deeply. There are all kinds of reasons that source code editors are great, for programmers and website owners alike.
Possibly the first and most important reason is that a lot of today’s programmers didn’t grow up using the command line. DOS was a distant memory by the time anyone 30 or younger would’ve been coming to the keyboard. That means that many basic commands, like opening a new directory, for instance, seem intimidating and confusing for younger programmers.
The intimidation of a blinking Terminal prompt is like the anxiety of an empty page x 1000. First of all, you’ve still got to get creative, the same as you would with any other blank page. You’ve also got to remember the programming language’s commands and any technical considerations, as well.
Coding using a regular text editor or from the command line is like having to make a puzzle, learn a language, and do advanced algebra all at the same time.
That’s just one reason you might want to use a source code editor. It also helps you write in programming languages you’re a little less familiar with.
Gone are the days of simply having to know C++ and HTML to get a programming job. These days, you might be expected to know Java, Python, Ruby, or countless other programming languages. That would be just to qualify for an internship.
A source code editor can keep track of all of the rules and syntax for a wide array of different programming languages. This helps you keep track of the code you’ve written. That in and of itself is cause for celebration.
The autocomplete feature is the true wonder, however. The source code editor will give you the options that are available for the function you’re using. This is like the difference between a test requiring a written essay and one with multiple choices.
Programming jobs are here to stay. There’s never going to be less demand for computer programmers as our society becomes increasingly digital. Tools like source code editors help you get fluent in machine language so it’s almost as easy as writing in your native language!
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