Monty and The White Room: Understanding Programming


Understanding Programming with The White Room

To truly understand what's going on behind the scenes when a computer program runs is one of the biggest hurdles for those at the early stages of learning to code. This challenge can make learning to code harder. It makes aspects of programming obscure and a bit mystical. But it doesn't have to be that way.


The White Room concept is a tool to help understand how a computer program works. It's an analogy that compares most of the features of a computer program to a real-world scenario we can all easily visualise.


The central premise of The White Room analogy is that when you create a new Python file, you're creating a new empty room with nothing in it initially except for a few shelves and a small red booklet that has some built-in functions and other tools to get you started.


The analogy then introduces Monty, who is a personification of the computer program. Monty—the name is a nod to the origins of the programming language's name—is busy getting stuff done. He's the one who performs all the actions that you expect your computer program to do.


The analogy goes through explaining how importing modules and creating variables works and then explains defining functions and calling functions with input parameters and return statements. Everything falls in place nicely in The White Room analogy and the Python City, which contains the White Room and many more buildings!


The White Room is discussed in detail as a standalone chapter in The Python Coding Book, which you can read here:


The White Room: Understanding Programming