Programming basics : variables

Programming basics : variables

Welcome reader,

This is the first part of a mini-serie to introduce the basics of programming with C#. Don’t forget to look at my GitHub account. I haven’t decide yet, but surely I will create a project which will resume every topic that I’ve talked about during the Programming basics serie.

So, we’re finally there, will start talking about the programming at last! In this serie, I assume that you’ll have already downloaded your IDE( if you don’t know what’s an IDE, please go read my blog post about IDEs) on your machine. Like I have mentionned before, I’ll be using the Visual Studio Community Edition IDE in this blog.

The introduction to programming start with a fundemental topic : variables. When you are programming, you are telling your machine exactly what you want it to achieve. In order to do so, you have to manipulate data directly on your machine, and when you’ll be running your software application(more of running later), the code that you’ve given will look like this:

0101010 0101 010101 01010

For the untrained eyes, it’s only 0s and 1s. But that is called binary code. This is what your machine use to achieve an operation that you have order it to do.  Even when you are on your user interface of you operating system, you are telling your computer what to achieve for you such as

Opening a folder

Save a file

With the IDEs,  our life is easier, we don’t need to actually manipulate data on the computer with binary code, we use variables. What this means is this: variables points to different parts of the computer memory. In short, variables have a name and a value.They hold different kind of data which can be manipulate and consume by a programmer in order to achieve his goal. Below, you’ll be able to see all the variables that are accessible in most programming languages:

  • byte – 8 bits
  • short – 16 bits
  • int – 32 bits
  • long -64 bits
  • float – single precision 32 bit floating numbers
  • double – double precision 64 bits floating numbers
  • decimal – 16 bits
  • bool – boolean value (true/false)
  • char – holds a character
  • String (it will be discussed in a later post)

From byte to long, these represent integer values such as 0, 100, 200. We have access to different kind of integer values, and when you are programming, you have to choose carefully the exact type you need because each type has its own weight in bit. The more you use, the bigger the software application will be. To understand the difference between the type of integer you can choose, you will find below the range of values each one has:

  • byte [0,255]
  • short [-32768,32767]
  • int [-2147483648,2147483647]
  • long [-9223372036854775808,9223372036854775807]

For example, if you create a software application which will only hold employees ages, using long variables because of their weight. Rapidly, in an application with around a million employees, the software would be heavy to process because you’re using the wrong type of data. In this case, knowing that the human’s span life is around 80 years, using the byte type would be much better. While using variables, you should always use your judgement in order to be memory efficient. Lower, you’ll be able to find an example of a byte variable containing the age of an employee:

byte employeeAge=30;

As you can see, when using a variable, the variable’s name is on the left and the value,which will be assigned, is on the right.  To continue, the float,double and decimal types should be use only when you to consume data which contained the full value of number like 1.25.

int firstValue=1.25; //firstValue will only be 1 because it is an integer
float secondValue=1.25; //secondValue will be 1.25

Console.WriteLine(firstValue);//Will display the value of 1
Console.WriteLine(secondValue); //Will display the value of 1.25

Upward, you can see some code sample showing the use of two variables and C# function(more on functions later) in order to display data to the screen. There’s quite a lot going on in this sample, the part with the double slash is called comments. Comment will be discussed in the next part of this serie. Moreover, as you can see, the names of the variable don’t really represent anything. When using variables, the names you use should always be meaningful. By always doing so, you’ll be able to understand the code you’ve written a while back faster without, or almost, need of comments.

To finish, the char type can only hold a character as a value. A character can be anything such as a alpha or numerical character. The char data is assigned with single quotes. You can see an example below.

byte charVariable='1';

To wrap up, variables have a meaningful name and a value. When using variables in your software application, you should make sure to always use the right type in order to be memory efficient.



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