Website Coding 101: Web Programming

Welcome to the second blog in our coding 101 series, helping to define the coding languages we use in web development. There are hundreds of unique programming languages out there, and more are being created every year. Each has characteristic strengths and weaknesses, versatility, accessibility and varying levels of scalability. The choice is ultimately based […]

Welcome to the second blog in our coding 101 series, helping to define the coding languages we use in web development.

There are hundreds of unique programming languages out there, and more are being created every year. Each has characteristic strengths and weaknesses, versatility, accessibility and varying levels of scalability. The choice is ultimately based on your project objectives for achieving the best efficiency and output.

This week we will talk about the most popular programming languages for building websites.

 

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HTML/CSS

CSS and HTML, along with JavaScript, is the holy trinity of front end web development. Released in the 1990s, HTML (Hyper Text Mark Up Language) is the language that websites are made with and web browsers speak. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is the language that defines the look and feel of a website interface. Frontend developers should know HTML and CSS inside out. It’s handy for backend developers as well, to understand server side changes affecting the end user. It can also be worked with on platforms that are not web-based, for example desktop widgets and PDF documents.

CSS preprocessors like Sass, Less, and Stylus, and frameworks such as Bootstrap, are both tools to help streamline frontend developers building websites. A CSS preprocessor is its own language built on top of CSS that adds scripting functionality. A CSS framework is a prewritten style sheet that includes its own layout and theme for user interface elements.

 

JavaScript

One of the three core technologies of web, a front end language used for creating and developing websites, desktop apps and games. Often abbreviated as JS, this cross-platform, lightweight web language was initially released by Netscape in 1995. It wasn’t until later that the language was officially renamed as JavaScript, giving the impression that the language was a spin-off of the Java programming language. Although there are strong outward similarities between JavaScript and Java, the two languages are distinct and fundamentally different in design. On the other hand JScript and TypeScript are proper spin-off of JavaScript, reverse-engineered adaptation by Microsoft released in 1996 and in 2012, respectively.

JavaScript is basically your go-to for making impressive user interfaces and websites/apps/games. There are also extensive open-source JS frameworks available such as Angular, React and VueJS. However, JavaScript is also known as a difficult language and thus difficult to debug. JavaScript forms the basis for understanding the components, data structures and algorithms apply to almost every other language.

 

PHP

PHP development began in 1995. It is an HTML-embedded scripting language used to form fast dynamic web pages. Being dynamic in nature means that you as a developer can write and run the code without the need of a compiler. It’s behind web giants such as WordPress, Facebook, Wikipedia, Yahoo! and Tumblr, hence an essential tool for both front and backend developers to add to their arsenal. PHP can fast expand web apps and run websites that have repeated server tasks such as refreshing news feeds. Laravel, Symfony and Zend are popular PHP frameworks.

 

Python

First released in 1991, it is a versatile programming language named after Monty Python. Python is a beginner-friendly, dynamic language for data processing, more popular as a backend language. Instagram and Pinterest are powered by Python.

It is both flexible and extremely powerful, and hence fast growing in popularity in recent years. Google, Dropbox, Pinterest, Instagram, NASA and Reddit were built with Python. Django is also a full stack framework powered by Python.

 

Ruby

Scalable, simple and fast. Ruby is a new, dynamic programming language that is used for creating web and mobile apps. Originally developed in the mid-1990s, this open source platform is not only simple to understand but also easy to write. Twitter, Airbnb and Shopify use Ruby. Ruby on Rails (RoR) is a famous and reliable full stack web application framework.

 

C++

General purpose, powerful and technical language for backend development. Especially useful for high performance programs and template-heavy programs. Many software have been built with C++, including Adobe Systems, Amazon, Paypal, Chrome, and more. The first edition of C++ programming was released in the 1985 as a successor of well-established C language, the building block of many other programming languages like Java, JavaScript, Python, PHP among others. Note programs written in C-based language require compilers to run on Windows and Linux based systems.

 

SQL

Initially developed at IBM in the early 1970s, SQL (Structured Query Language) is the universal language for database management. This language forms a vital part of web development for storing, manipulating and retrieving specific data from large, complex databases. Some common relational database management systems that use SQL are Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server and MySQL. Indeed all Android phones and iPhones have access to a SQL database called SQLite, and many mobile apps developed by Google, Skype and DropBox use it directly.

 

Go

Go, also known as golang, is Google’s dedicated programming language created in 2007 and released in 2009. It was developed with the intention to accelerate programming on its own infrastructure. As one of newest languages, it promises great potential for better integration, efficiency, ease of use and is good at solving problems that other languages can’t.

 

Now let’s here from the people behind the code. We’ve asked our developers what is their favourite language to work with and why.

What Our Devs Say

Their favourite programming language, what they like and hate (if any!) about it.

 

 

Senior full stack

PHP is easy to learn, hard to master. Because of its popularity, there is plenty of community support available, but you have to be cautious and ready to separate the wheat from the chaff when using online resources.

 

 

 

Senior full stack

JS is easy to use. It’s forever evolving with new versions and alternatives released frequently: for example Typescript by Microsoft and ES6, often referred to as “Harmony”. It used to only work with browsers but now it has great integration with server side as well. Also has matured as a language for mobile app platform in recent years.

 

 

 

Frontend

Today, JS can almost do everything online with an extensive collection of frameworks available. But rich resources can mean choice overload and transient fashion. Important to keep up with the latest JS trends.

 

Tune in to the next series where we dive into more detail about the aforementioned code and how it relates to your website.

 

 

Glossary of web terms

API Application Programming Interface: tools for building application software.

Backend: Enabler for a frontend experience like calculations, logic, database interactions,
and performance.

C: A general-purpose computer programming language that was precursor and
influencer of many other languages.

C++ A powerful, general-purpose C-based computer programming language.

CSS Cascading Style Sheets: a style sheet language used for describing the
presentation of a document written in a markup language.

CSS: Own language built on top of CSS that adds scripting functionality.
preprocessor

Framework: Provide a structure to automate building and deploying web applications.

Frontend: User facing experiences – what the user sees and interacts.

Full stack: Both frontend and backend.

Go: Also known as golang is a newer web programming language by Google.

HTML Hypertext Markup Language: standard markup language for creating web pages
and web applications.

Java: A general-purpose computer programming language.

JavaScript: A programming language that is one of the three core technologies alongside
HTML and CSS for web development. Often abbreviated as JS.

jQuery: A library of JavaScript on which other JS frameworks are built.

JScript: Microsoft’s adaptation of JavaScript.

Less Leaner CSS: a CSS preprocessor.

PHP: A web scripting language behind web giants such as WordPress and Facebook.

Python: A versatile computer programming language best for data processing.

Ruby: A versatile computer programming language for web and mobile apps.

Sass Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets: a CSS preprocessor.

Script: A computer language with a series of commands or instructions.

SQL Structured Query Language: a standard language for database management.

Stack: Layers of technologies to build a website or application.

Stylus: A CSS preprocessor.

UI User Interface: design elements that allow interaction between the user and the
application or device e.g. buttons and menus.