In the tech industry, speed is everything. Technology moves at a lightning-fast pace – and for coders, that means the companies they hire will want new programs written just as quickly. Of course, tech-savvy professionals know that coding is time-consuming work; if they’re going to succeed in this industry, they understand that they’ll need to work smarter, not harder. If you’re looking to improve your coding and programming skills, there are many books, websites, and online coding courses you can take advantage of.
One way to speed up the coding process is to store data in memory so that multiple programs can execute the same information. The best way to do this is by creating and assigning variables in your programs.
What is a variable? How do you use it? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Variable in Coding?
The standard definition for a variable in coding is “a value that can change, depending on conditions or information passed to the program.” However, the SIMPLE definition is that a variable is like a container for your data.
You can use variables to store numbers, phrases, database query results, or any other information you might use multiple times in your code or across multiple programs. By storing that data, you can write code faster and make your code easier to read (which is important for maintenance or updates down the road).
Creating or Declaring Variables
The best way to explain how variables work is to show how they function in actual code. Let’s use the example of a math formula:
Say that you need to use a particular formula (in our case, 1+1) in several places throughout your code. Writing “1+1” hundreds of times will inevitably slow you down, and it leaves room for errors that can mess up your entire program. To avoid this issue, we’re going to create a variable (AKA a container) to store this formula to the program memory.
To create (also known as “declaring”) a variable, write the variable name, then the equals sign, and then the formula you want to store. In our example, the code should look like this:
Formula = 1+1
Now, the next time we want to use 1+1 in our program, we don’t need to write out the whole expression. Instead, we can just write “formula,” and the program will read our variable name as if it were 1+1. This can make your coding much more accurate and save you lots of time. Just make sure to give your variable a name that’s easy to remember, or you might end up spending hours reviewing your code trying to find it the next time you need it!
Once you declare a variable and connect it to a certain number, expression, phrase, or any other piece of data, your program’s memory stores that declaration for future use in your program.
But does that mean that variable is fixed? Of course not. Variables (as the name suggests) change based on the information the program receives, and that means you can reassign your variables whenever you need to.
To continue our previous example, let’s say that you’ve realized that the formula you’ve been using needs to be updated. It’s not 1+1 after all – it’s 2+2.
No problem! Simply re-declare your variable by writing “formula = 2+2” in your code. This negates your original variable value and replaces it with the most recent data. Now you can continue on writing your code without wasting any valuable time.
Variables in Java
If you spend any time writing code (professionally or as a hobby), you probably spend a lot of that time writing in Java. As the most popular coding language, it’s a must-know for anyone who wants to work in tech – and that means you need to know how to use variables in this language.
There are four types of variables in Java:
- Non-static fields (a field that belongs to an object)
- Static fields (a variable that belongs to a class)
- Local variables (a variable inside a method)
- Parameters (a variable you can pass to a method)
Of course, lots of data can fall into these variable types, like bytes, integers, or expressions.
To create a variable in Java, you need to declare the type of data you are assigning, then write the variable name, equals sign, and data. For example, to declare a variable for the number 1000 (an integer), you might write:
int variable = 1000;
Variables in Python
Python (another popular coding language) also has a variety of variable types you can use to simplify your code and store your data. These types include:
To create a variable in Python, you simply need to assign the variable a name, then use the equals sign and input the data. Declaring a variable for 1000 in Python (and then having it appear in your code) would look like this:
variable = 1000
Once you get the hang of using variables in your code, you can work more quickly, minimize errors, and have a cleaner and more readable code overall. This can give you a huge leg up within the industry – and it makes writing code much more fun.
Also Read: How to Improve Your Homework Coding Skills?