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Learn Base64 with online courses and programs

Base64 adds nuance and flexibility to any programmer’s repertoire. Ready to discover how this simple but powerful encoding method helps to prevent data loss? Learn Base64 online with online courses delivered through edX.

What is Base64?

Base64 is a method of encoding data. The process transforms text or binary data into a string of limited American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) characters. For example, the encoded version of the string ‘edX’ is ‘ZWRY’ using Base64. This streamlined scheme makes it possible to store and transfer data while preserving the original byte-values of the data. Base64 can be used to encode content such as images, email attachments, and sound files.

Encoded Base64 strings draw from an array of 64 ASCII characters with six bits each. Padding situations occur when there are less than six bits in the last binary group of the encoded data. In those cases, the string uses a 65th character, ‘=’.Footnote 1 The Base64 characters include: 

  • Numbers: ‘0123456789’

  • Symbols: ‘+/’


  • Lowercase letters: ‘abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz’

  • Padding character: ‘=’

Base64 allows users to move binary data through diverse networks without data corruption or information loss. Some networks have specific protocols and restrictions which allow them to process only certain data types and characters. When they process incompatible binary data, they run the risk of mistranslating or corrupting the information. By converting binary data to common ASCII characters, even networks with restrictions can keep files intact and readable.Footnote 2

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Online Base64 course curriculum

If you’re looking to take your coding skills to the next level, learning Base64 online through courses and tutorials can be a pivotal step in your programming journey. A Base64 tutorial may go over the purpose of Base64, as well as how to encode and decode binary and text data. In order to contextualize Base64 for newer learners, a class may also cover why it is important to convert data types for smooth network transfers. edX provides a wide array of online classes to build up your computer science knowledge and unpack the intricacies of data type interactions. Introductory courses may touch on different data types such as characters, bytes, and strings. They might also cover a step-by-step process of converting binary data to Base64 characters. With these foundational skills, you can dive into more advanced Base64 applications and explore how professional programmers typically use this scheme.

Jobs that use Base64

Learning how to use Base64 to encode or decode data can strengthen your understanding of data interactions in programming. It also opens up pathways to computer programming careers. For example, Python programmers may harness the power of Base64 encoding through the Base64 Python module, which quickly performs data encoding and decoding.Footnote 3 JavaScript programmers can also use Base64 to prevent data corruption through the language’s encode and decode functions.Footnote 4 Introductory programming courses can serve as a useful first step toward a rewarding tech career. Some programming positions may require additional education certificates or levels of formal education. Once you have a solid foundation in popular programming languages, you can further develop your programming skills through a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree. For learners who already have a degree, a boot camp can provide the necessary skills to start or advance a career in programming. edX offers a variety of courses, boot camps, and other diverse learning options for people of all backgrounds.

How to use Base64 as a computer programmer

Base64 can be useful to programmers working with different coding languages, such as CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, and Python.Footnote 5 Computer programmers can use Base64 encoding to transmit or store data in networks that only accept ASCII characters or to manipulate objects using text editors. Additional applications include: 

  • Encoding binary data in website URLs

  • Storing complex data in XML 

  • Creating encoded email attachments using MIME

If you’re interested in working with Base64, seeking further education can be a great way to kick off a dynamic programming career. Consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in computer or data science or completing a boot camp in coding or related fields such as cybersecurity as well as data analytics to expand your skill set and become a more attractive job candidate.