How Does Decoding Happen?

Decoding sounds like it can be a long process, and, if done manually, it usually can be, but what exactly happens during the procedure? Software development languages can come with an in-built encoder/decoder where a file is run through the encoder if the user wants to send a file or a decoder if the user wants to use the received file. When a file is run through an encoder, it transforms the data on a file into a compressed format that computers can read and is smaller in size. When decoding, the file is already in an “encoded” form and is translated back into its intended state.

How Can I Try It?

Nowadays, encoding and decoding are pretty simple. Take python again, one could go and make software that could translate from Unicode on their own, but like most modern commodities, it comes built-in. The line of code needed to initiate the process can be boiled down to;

Encoding Software?

When you think of encoding, you think of translating letters to numbers or vice versa, but encoding has another important use. Security. Most sites use an encryption process that involves encrypting the data sent by both parties and creating a “key” that allows both parties to decode the data sent. This way, a third party cannot interfere because they would need the key generated at that moment to decode the data. “Even if hackers manage to intercept the communication, they will not be able to use it because the message is encrypted”. Everyone is quite familiar with this encryption process. It’s called HTTPS, and they are the letters that go before WWW. It just goes to show how important it is! The craziest part is that the security software is just an encoder/decoder. It takes data and “translates” it into encrypted gibberish only to be translated back into data, only with tons of security measures on top. Some companies and programmers even use thyroid party software made explicitly for encrypting data just for an extra step because you can never be too safe.

What’s the Point?

But why go through the hassle of encoding and decoding data when you can send pure data? Remember that computers can’t read standard text or look at videos, so encoding is essential for anything that requires one. But also encoding allows programmers to compress data into smaller, faster to handle data. Just about every device on the planet uses encoders to transfer data, whether to load an article on today’s news, play your favorite music video, or even download a new game. Without encoding and decoding, the whole internet would halt grinding as pages and sites take forever to load the uncompressed data.

Cool Uses

One of the most bizarre and exciting ways we used encoding software was in a test designed to “read the human mind”. In a way, this machine can read and slightly interpret the electrical activity that happens in the brain. The experiment involved a subject staring at an image to test a software’s ability to test whether or not the person was concentrating or not, stating here, “From his computer in the console room, Hutchinson could tell in real-time whether the graduate student was paying attention to the picture or whether her mind was drifting to internal thoughts. Hutchinson could then give the graduate student feedback on how well she was paying attention by making the picture clearer and stronger in color when her mind was focused on the picture and fading the picture when her attention drifted.”. In reality, it’s astonishing that we can build software that is even capable of doing that, but it’s also a significant step in technology.


When you think about it, decoding is like a puzzle game, where scattered information is gathered and pieced together to create a complete image. Without it, data is just this big bulky image that is hard to move effectively. We need encoding and decoding to help break our puzzles to make them smaller and faster to transport. As well as requiring them to help hide the images we don’t want outsiders to look at. Without security, all sorts of weird people could peer into your private life without your knowledge. And, of course, one can’t forget about the countless benefits encoding has in our everyday lives and future technology. From the IR scanners used at stores to the “mind-reading” brain analyzer, encoding can get a lot done for being something pretty simple. Yet without it, our world would crumble under the length of those load times on YouTube.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store