What are data types in coding? What effects does it have in a real project?

What are data types in coding? What effects does it have in a real project?

We may have stumbled upon terms like ‘Data Types’ but what does it mean? Let’s find out in this article.

What are Data Types?

What is Data?

Before addressing the question of data types, let’s first familiarize ourselves with the concept of data. Usually, data is nothing but a fact or statement describing an object, place, or person. A single word, such as ‘Apple’, can also be described as data. But individual fragments of data alone do not provide us with anything specific unless it is categorized. If the above sentence ‘Apple’ is present under “red, eatable, object” then it would make a lot of sense. Hence data in itself isn’t much useful. Data grouped with similar types of data into a collection to represent an object. Information is the group or collection of similar data.

However, though nowadays these terms are used interchangeably, they are not the same. Data is any fact or statement about an object while information is the collection of facts or statements. In other words, the collection of data that can represent an object entirely is information.

Why are there ‘Types of Data’?

In real life, there are various types of data. Be it an image of the object, or the physical properties of any object that we sense. These all are different types of data that a computer cannot understand as it has no senses to measure any object’s physical properties. Our computers and other smart devices rely only on the data which can be represented as statements. Even devices such as cameras and microphones, convert visual and audio into smaller chunks of data as statements that only computers can understand.

Irrespective of the type of data being carried, the processor uses similar methods for storing and retrieving different data. This can lead to a lot of confusion due to incorrect alignment and usage of data. A better way is to use another set of data which helps determine what type of data is being carried. With this, the devices can understand where an image is to be displayed and where a song is to be played. Hence a conventional usage of ‘data types’ is necessary to determine where the current data is to be used.

Data Types

For every device today, there is a common form of data transfer – Binary. A binary form of data is just a collection of 0s and 1s arranged in a specific order. All data collected is converted into its binary form and is then used wherever required. This binary form does not specify what it is carrying hence another set of binary data is attached to specify the type of data being carried. In computer programming, special containers, known as variables, store these data to perform operations. Hence to limit which type of data a variable can hold, specific data types are defined. These data types are as follows:

  • Integer: Any whole number value is an integer.
  • Double/Float: A fractional number value containing a decimal point.
  • Character: Any alphabet or a symbol defined in the official dictionary can be a single character.
  • String: A group of characters together inside a variable.
  • Boolean: A value that represents either true or false.

By categorizing the form of data, the processor can easily access the data accordingly and transfer the data to the required areas. In this way, the devices today use data without any hassle and can easily distinguish between all the different types of data.

Does ‘Data Types’ has any effect on my programming project?

Yes, the data types as well as the type of language used in the project have a larger effect overall. In dynamically typed languages like Python, the type of data is recognized automatically, and the remaining processes are determined in the runtime itself. In statically typed languages, the data type of a variable or function is limited to a single data type(s) and can only take in data of types that are expected to occur. This type of language consists of a larger range of programming languages like C, C++, Java, etc. Hence the data types of a process are predefined and only one type of data can be contained and processed over a single use case. This has many pros and cons of its own.

Advantages of Statically Typed Language

  1. Errors are found earlier in development.
  2. All the type checking is done at compilation and hence fewer errors in shipped code.
  3. Compiler optimization is done making the code run much faster.
  4. Tests are not required for explicit type checking.

Disadvantages of Statically Typed Language

  1. More boilerplate code.
  2. The code is less dynamic. Duplicate codebases have to be written for different data types even if the use case and processing remain the same.
  3. Complex error messages arise at runtime which is not very readable.

In a nutshell, if your project requires faster processing and has minimum variety in data types, then statically typed is best, if not then switching to a more dynamically typed language would be a safer option. You might also want to switch and test between different types of languages to test out which is best for your codebase.

Similarly, using the correct data type for your project is also important. Data type depends on the range of values your program will be handling. If used incorrectly, the program will be using too much memory of the device or it will be taking too much time to load essential values for the program.


Using correct data types and managing your data efficiently is the key to making a faster and smoother application. It ensures the application is taking up only the resources that it requires and hence renders it a useful application that can run on all types of devices no matter the architecture.

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