Digital Education Resources - Vanderbilt Libraries Digital Lab

Basic programming terminology

This lesson introduces and defines many basic terms used in programming. Those terms include: program, code, application, script, console, shell, command-line interface (CLI), graphical user interface (GUI), variables, classes, objects, statements, interactive mode, script mode, and editor. The terms are illustrated with examples.

Learning objectives At the end of this lesson, the learner will:

Total video time: 18m 23s

Lesson slides

Introduction (2m08s)

Terms for programs (2m08s)

Terms covered are: program, code, application, and script.

Command-line interfaces (CLI) (4m39s)

Terms covered are: console, Terminal, Command Prompt, shell, Bash, command-line interface (CLI), and graphical user interface (GUI).

To open a console on a Mac, enter Terminal into the Spotlight Search (magnifying glass in the upper right) and press enter/return.

To open a console in Windows, enter Command prompt in the Type here to search box in the lower left and press enter.

In either case, click the X at the top of the window to close it. Note: you won’t be able to run either a Python or R shell unless they have already been installed on your computer. That will not be necessary for these lessons. For more information about installing Python, see this page. For more information about installing R, see this page.

Variables and objects (2m20s)

Terms covered are: variable, class, object, and type.

See this page for more information about the distinction between variables and objects in Python.

See this page for technical details about objects in R.

Executing code (4m30s)

Terms covered are: statement, interactive mode, and script mode.

Writing code with an editor (1m51s)

Terms covered are: code editor, syntax checking, and automatic formatting.

For further information on writing code with an editor and for code editor suggestions, see this page. Note: It is NOT necessary to install a code editor for these lessons since we will be using the Jupyter notebook system. However, you may find a code editor useful for other purposes, such as writing Markdown or editing JSON or XML files. If you visit the code editor page and download an editor, please note that you won’t be able to run the Python examples unless you also install a Python interpreter (or already have one installed on your computer). That will NOT be necessary for these lessons.

Getting help (0m47s)

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Next lesson: Programming Environments

Revised 2021-02-02

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License: CC BY 4.0.
Credit: "Vanderbilt Libraries Digital Lab -"