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University of VictoriaIntroduction to IT English
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How is Software Created?

A software program is made up of a series of instructions to the computer. These instructions are called the software program’s code or source code.

These instructions are not written in plain language. Instead, they are written in a programming language, such as Java, Perl, Python, or C++.

Programming languages have very strict rules about how their words and commands should be used. Any mistakes will usually cause the software program to malfunction.

Here is a sample of source code in a programming language.

>>> b = 1
>>> while b < 11:
>>> print b,
>>> b = b+1

Like learning the language from another country, learning a programming language takes much study.

Software programs can be very large. For example, Microsoft Windows XP has over forty million lines of source code.

People who write software are called programmers. We will look more at programmers and other jobs involved in information technology in Unit 12.

Machine Code

Before source code becomes a working software program, it needs to be converted into machine code by a software program known as a compiler.

Machine code is a series of on and off signals, represented by ones and zeros. Thus, to a computer, every software program is a very long series of ones and zeros, like this: 01100100111....

The computer treats this series of ones and zeros as a math problem. It recognizes some sets of on and off signals as numbers and other on and off signals as mathematical operations, such as addition.

Every time a computer makes a sound or displays something new on the screen, it is the result of these calculations.