Software programming has come a long way since Ada Lovelace wrote the world's first computer program – roughly a century prior to the invention of modern computers. While computing technology will always have a long way to go, there have been numerous significant advancements made since Colossus, the first modern computer, helped the Allies win World War II by decoding Hitler’s messages.
Here are just a few of them:
A piece of software functions as a whole, and everyone knows that when one piece of an application fails, the entire program often cannot function. However, unit testing allows for automated, individual screening for proper operation of a part of the code. When a given piece of the software malfunctions, unit testing facilitates finding precisely what failed, where the code has an issue and then what can be done to fix the problem. This allows for faster coding as well as substantially faster development times, as individual sections can be tried out on their own.
Before the ability to check a build, the entire process had to be done manually. This could literally mean scouring hundreds or even thousands of lines of code, which would be daunting for anyone. Then you go to compile, and another error occurs. Prior to automated build tools such as the C language's "Make" tool that came out in 1985, the process could be arduous for even relatively simple development. Since then, modern build tools have facilitated dramatically more complex programming than could ever have been done without these tools.
Integrated Development Environments
There was a time when you could put together your set of macros, but then had to close that application to check your documentation. Further, you may have had to write in machine code or simply pass from one application to another repeatedly. This was time-consuming and could break most anyone's concentration. Since the integrated development environment or IDE came about, now you can use a single digital dashboard for an entire suite of tools. The time this can save is tremendous in itself, to say nothing of the frustration it saves when you forget a function or another detail that you need to review.
Also known as source control and revision control, version control allows for a far clearer picture of how much has been done to a piece of software, large website or other substantial collection of data. As a general rule, changes are documented through lettering or a number that allows you to see how many edits the programmer has made over time. In the case of entire operating systems and very large programs that many different individuals can each edit, version control is critical to keeping changes understood by everyone involved in the process.
When coding, problems occur and the solutions are not always obvious. There was a time when only a network of fellow programmers who had hopefully run into a similar problem or a vendor's documentation could help you. It could take months for a programmer to figure out an effective solution to a given problem. However, with code sharing online and the ability to search out specific code and how it can function, this has become far easier to do. Problems that may have taken months to defeat previously may now take minutes to solve.
The programming community is sometimes split on whether code outlining is a considerable advancement, but some programmers swear by its utility. The ability to collapse numerous pages of code into a single page and edit individual sections aligned by hierarchy dramatically reduces the complexity of individual sections that one might want to edit. This reduces the visual strain of a section as well as large amounts of unnecessary scrolling and clicking. Simply by inserting XML tags, you can take large sections of a tremendous document and make them manageable on an individual basis.
Memory leaks and small bugs were a mainstay of C++ for a long time, but managed code has changed that. One of the main advantages of C# and some other managed programming languages is that when one writes their code, it works properly. The logic still needs to work, as do the processes, but the side effects and behavior of the programming language are no longer the major issues that a programmer needs to address. This further expedites the process, making coding far more efficient and letting the programmer focus on what they want to accomplish with less emphasis on how to accomplish it.
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