2.4. Your First Program

We haven’t learned how to code yet, but we can still write and run our first program. This exercise asks you to create and run small amounts of code, and it reinforces the LaunchCode principle of learning by doing.

We have used the phrase Hello, World as an example throughout this chapter because it represents the traditional first program for a new coder. Printing a single message is one of the simplest tasks a program can carry out.

Hello, World will be your first program as well. Welcome to the club!

2.4.1. Create a Repl.it Account

Throughout this book, you will need to access a code editor to complete practice problems, exercises, studios, and assignments. If you have not already done so, create a new account with Repl.it. The site provides a free space to practice coding.

Repl.it sign-up screen

After you sign in, you will see your dashboard, which displays any saved folders or projects. Since you are just starting out, your dashboard will be empty.

Repl.it dashboard

Warning

These examples are for standard repl.it use. See repl.it classroom instructions for instructions on using repl.it when working on repl.it classroom assignments.

Click on new repl to begin a new project. Scroll through the options and select "Node.js". Next, name your project and click "Create Repl".

Repl.it new replit

2.4.1.1. The Repl.it Workspace

Before you dive into your Hello, World! program, let's take a look at how to use Repl.it. The workspace consists of three main panels and several menu functions.

Repl.it code editor layout

Features to note:

  1. File panel and menus: Allows you to add extensions, update settings, and add, open, or delete files.
  2. Editor panel: Your code goes here. Click on a file to open it in the editor. For most new projects, an index file will be created and opened by default.
  3. Console panel: Any output produced by your code will appear in this panel. The console also displays error messages, test results, and other information.
  4. Fork button: If you are viewing someone else's project, you can fork the content (4) and store a copy of that project to your own account. This allows you to edit the files without changing the originals, and it lets you use other programmers' work (with permission) to enhance your own.
  5. Run button: Executes any code written in the index file.
  6. Managing projects: When logged into Repl.it, you can create a new project, view saved projects, or share your projects.

Note

The workspace shown above uses the "dark" theme (light text on a black background). If you prefer the reverse (dark text on a white background), click the gear icon and select the "light" theme.

2.4.2. Begin Your Coding Journey

Follow this Hello World link to open a prepared workspace for your first program.

On line 2 of the editor, type:

console.log("Hello, World!");

When you finish typing, click the green "Run" button and observe the output.

Warning

Do NOT just copy/paste the code. You will learn best by typing, trying, changing, and fixing.

If you typed correctly, you saw the output Hello, World! If you omitted or mistyped any characters, then you either saw a misspelled output or an error message with some tips on what might have gone wrong. Do not worry if you make mistakes! These experiences still teach you something. Fix any errors and try again.

2.4.2.1. Now Play

Once you print Hello, World! successfully, go back and play around with the code. Make a change, click "Run", and see what happens. Try to:

  1. Change the message that is printed.
  2. Figure out what the parentheses do. Will the code work without them?
  3. Remove one or both quotation marks. Do we need to include both opening and closing quote marks? Is there a difference between using a single or a double quote (' vs. ")?
  4. Remove the semi-colon, ;.
  5. Print a number. (Bonus: Print two numbers added together).
  6. Print multiple messages one after the other.
  7. Print two messages on the same line.
  8. Print a message that contains quote marks, such as Quoth the Raven "Nevermore".
  9. Other. You choose!

Spend a few minutes trying these changes. Do not worry if you miss some of the targets. Learning comes through experience, and you WILL learn all the details behind console.log soon.

Once you finish practicing (and hopefully making some mistakes), you will have a pretty good idea of how the console.log function in JavaScript works.

Try It

On paper (or in a document on your computer), write one or two sentences about console.log. You should provide more detail than, “It prints things.”

2.4.3. Check Your Understanding

Question

Which of the following correctly prints Coding Rocks? There may be more than one valid option.

  1. console.log(Coding Rocks)
  2. console.log(Coding Rocks);
  3. console.log('Coding Rocks')
  4. console.log("Coding Rocks');
  5. console.log("Coding Rocks");