That word strikes fear in the hearts of so many people who want to start a project. Often, when that word is spoken or typed, the reader or listener switches off. It's an understandable reaction but not always justified. Programmers the world over have banked on that reluctance to keep their jobs secure. It's not as hard as it sounds. Basically, a program is a series of human or near human words that are instructions to a machine. The machine interprets them as commands and carries them out to the letter. Remember that. TO THE LETTER. No deviation. Commands or instructions are carried out in a linear fashion from the start of a list of commands until the end of the list. One by one each is completed and then the computer moves on to the next command and does that one. This goes on until the end of the list unless there is a skip or jump instruction within the instructions.

It goes something like this.

Do First Thing

Do Second Thing

Do Third Thing

Jump to Tenth thing

Do Fourth Thing

Do Fifth Thing

Do Sixth Thing

Skip to Eleventh Thing

Do Seventh Thing

Do Eighth Thing

Do Ninth Thing

Do Tenth Thing – if You Jumped To Here, Return To Where You Left From, Otherwise Continue

Do Eleventh Thing


Just imagine it as if you were talking to a small child. You would give very simple commands from the first to the last and if you needed to bypass one for the time being, you would do a Skip or Jump. While similar, a Skip is a permanent exit from the continuing stream of instructions while a Jump may allow for you to return. A Jump will also allow you to go in both directions, up or down the list. A Skip is one direction only, down the list. A Skip or Jump can take many forms depending on the program you are using and they can sometimes even share instruction names. A Goto can be absolute (making it a Skip) or it can be a direction to go to a subroutine that allows for an escape and a return. Some programs have a GoSub routine to do that but they are essentially the same in simpler languages.

This has been an extremely simplified explanation of a computer program. The most important thing to remember from this is the universal compliance with the initial premise.

"A program is a series of instructions carried out one by one from start to finish unless the instruction is a skip or a jump."

For the experienced programmers out there and the eager to learn new programmers, each language you choose has its own way of manipulating data and evaluating it before decisions are made to do those Skips or Jumps. In the very basic example above, you may have noted that instructions 7, 9 and 9 would never be done and 10 would only be done during the Jump and not linearly like the rest. If you saw that, good for you – you are on your way to becoming a programmer. If you didn't see that, read the list of instructions carefully and pretend you are doing as instructed. You'll see it then.

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