By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

It's common for programmers to begin by writing their code in pseudocode whenever they want to build the fundamental logic for their software. This is a simple approach to communicating what you want your code to accomplish without utilising any coding languages. Understanding this artificial code may be beneficial if you're interested in coding and programming. In this article, we define pseudocode, outline its basic constructs, highlight its advantages and disadvantages and explain how to write it.

Related: Coding vs. Programming: What's the Difference? (With FAQs)

What is pseudocode?

Pseudocode is a simplified depiction of an algorithm that describes coding logic in the English language. It enables programmers to design the structure of any algorithm using simple instructions. This coding primarily uses plain language to explain the algorithm's different coding processes and their proper order. You may also incorporate mathematical symbols to refer to data sets using this code. Programmers can then use their favourite coding language to read each line of the pseudocode and develop algorithms.

Also, programming languages may involve sophisticated logic, and pseudocode allows users to comprehend the fundamentals of how the software works without requiring them to learn computer programming. Before developing the software's actual code, computer programmers often use this artificial code as a reference point. This enables them to choose the best technique to design their algorithms and plan the structure of a significant software project.

Related: How to Make a Career Change to Be a Software Developer

How to write pseudocode

The method you use to build artificial code changes based on the objective of your algorithm, but the basic steps are the same. Here's an outline of how to write this code that may help you develop practical algorithms:

1. Make a flowchart

Begin with a flowchart to create a visual representation of your code. You might start by creating a diagram of your algorithm's or application's main functionalities. The flowchart may be simple, with a few activities and arrows indicating the logic's path. You may refer to your flowchart as you go for ideas on how to complete each activity.

2. Make a plan of action

To create your pseudocode, write one action for each line. Starting with the first action in a series might help you structure your algorithm. These actions can include displaying text on a webpage, computing an equation and printing a document.

Related: What Does a Programmer Do? Definition, Job Scope and Skills

3. Set restrictions

You may utilise constructs to restrict the initial activity in your flowchart. The restrictions can help you decide the sequence, loop or conditions necessary to make your code work. For example, if your program prints specific files, you may describe the number of printed pages using the FOR construct.

4. Combine constructs

You can change and mix components to create an artificial code that expresses complicated processes. When nesting one construct inside another, using indents may help you organise and structure groupings of constructions. For instance, you may begin with an IF-THEN-ELSE construct that instructs the algorithm to output student exams.

The application can print primary four students' assessments on blue paper and primary five students' tests on green paper. Then, add a REPEAT-UNTIL construct to direct the software to continue printing until you have the required number of tests for each class.

Key constructs of this code

To correctly represent an algorithm, this artificial code combines components of programming logic. You often write these structures in capital letters to make it clear to the observer that they represent a crucial phase in the process. The following are the key constructs in this type of code:

• SEQUENCE: It's a linear structure of tasks inside an algorithm that can begin with nearly any verb depending on the algorithm's purpose, such as 'print', 'read' and 'input'. No two processes happen simultaneously, and each runs in its dedicated line.

• START and END: Many instances of this code include START to indicate the beginning of the code and END to indicate the conclusion. You can also use this to denote the beginning and conclusion of certain processes, such as 'START LOOP' and 'END LOOP'.

• IF-THEN-ELSE: This element indicates a feature of an algorithm with two possible outcomes. The first portion describes what happens if one event occurs and the second part describes what happens if that event doesn't occur in a conditional statement.

• FOR: This command, often known as a loop, shows a repeated operation. You can use the FOR function to implement an algorithm's commands for each item in a dataset.

• CASE: A construct that creates conditional statements with diverse outcomes, derived from the expression in the case of. For algorithmic statements with two possible results, use IF-THEN-ELSE, but for statements with many possible results, use CASE.

• WHILE: This looping function defines the loop's limitations at the start of the statement. Whereas the WHILE loop defines the conditions at the beginning of the code, the REPEAT-UNTIL loop defines them at the end.

• REPEAT-UNTIL: This loop continues until a particular event happens. It's the same as FOR, except that instead of implementing operations on individual datasets, it continues the operation until the algorithm achieves the intended result.

Related: How to Become a Java Developer in 6 Steps (With Duties)

Here are some of the advantages of using pseudocode:

Simplicity

There are several programming languages, each with its own intricacies, forms and coding patterns. These languages have a defined structure with precise syntax that generally doesn't allow modification. Even with the advent of high-level human-readable languages such as Python and JavaScript, programmers may still have difficulties writing code in these languages.

This artificial code focuses on the flexibility and ease of understanding of English prose, which may be a quicker way to start a software project and prepare instructions without incorporating any technical information.

Efficiency

It can also efficiently accelerate development. Because of its non-specific character, programmers can use it to build an algorithm without committing to a specific programming language or considering technical implementation concerns. This technique may prevent distractions and errors that might disrupt the development process. For example, you can spend less time debugging each line of code, which can increase overall productivity during application development.

Related: High-Paying IT Skills: Definition, Examples and Tips

Easier design process

Pseudocode can be an excellent technique to begin any software development project that requires cooperation in building a project's framework. Because it has fewer intricacies than actual programming languages, it may make this process simpler. It can also be a practical approach for quickly spotting algorithmic flaws before running the code.

Large-scale software projects sometimes require cooperation with specialists from other fields who may be unfamiliar with programming terminology or representations. In such cases, you can explain the software's mechanics to them using artificial code. It allows for effective communication amongst team members, stakeholders and clients.

Related: 34 Full Stack Developer Interview Questions (With Answers)

Documentation

Archiving your pseudocode documents can help you keep track of project objectives, best practices and positive results. It might be helpful in the future when you make code fixes and modifications. It may also assist in establishing a standard approach for writing artificial code to save time in projects.

The following are some of the drawbacks of employing pseudocode:

No set standards

There's no universally accepted standard for writing pseudocode. While this makes it simple to adjust to your needs, it also means that everyone's code may be a little different. This might sometimes make communicating difficult, particularly if you've become used to a particular manner of presenting artificial code.

Hard to verify

When you use genuine code, you can quickly test its functionality by running it. This can help you determine if there are any flaws in the code. Because only humans can interpret this artificial code, a machine can't test how it functions. Instead, you may need help from people who are good at understanding algorithms and can forecast possible issues.

Related: What Is an SDK? The Difference between an SDK and an API

Time-consuming

Incorporating this code into your approach generally makes a project take longer. This is because you first create the artificial code, then review it before writing the final version in your preferred coding language. Although using it might speed up the design process, the total duration may be longer since you perform an extra step.

Difficult to explain to non-coders

Although artificial code makes it simpler to communicate with individuals who lack experience with coding languages, it's still not as simple as a flowchart. This is because it serves as a model for future programming. A visual representation, such as a flowchart, often works better to communicate a code's design and intention to those unfamiliar with programming.

Related: Compiler vs. Interpreter (With Definitions and Differences)

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.