Programming languages

Programming languages, unlike application software, are software programs that can be used to develop a variety of stand-alone tasks. For example, using the Visual Basic programming language, you could develop a program to help managers to make investment decisions, or develop a games program, or something like a daily planner, or even, with certain languages, something that controls some aspect of the operating system. Programming languages bear little resemblance to spoken languages for programming languages have to be precise and unambiguous. Hence, programming languages require a longer learning curve than application software. Programming languages are, roughly speaking, classified into the following groups:

♦ Languages that manipulate the operating system or the hardware in some way. These are called system languages, or low-level languages.

♦ Languages that are used to develop stand-alone applications. These languages are called high-level languages. Examples are: Visual Basic, Java, C++ and COBOL. Some high-level languages are developed for special purposes, others are general purpose: COBOL is a special-purpose business language, while Java is widely regarded as an Internet language and Visual Basic and C++ are both general-purpose languages. These languages could be, and in many cases have been, used to produce software applications such as the word processor program Word, or the spreadsheet program Excel.

♦ Languages that are designed to enhance the capabilities of application software. For example, Excel uses VBA to enhance its capabilities, while VBA for Word enhances the capabilities of Word. Typically, these languages would be used to expand the capabilities of the software that would be very difficult - if not impossible - to do within the application itself.

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