Learn More About Javascript, HTML & CSS

HTML & CSS

You may have heard the terms “computer language” and “programming language” used interchangeably, but they are not actually the same thing. Programming languages are a specific subset of computer languages that program computers, meaning they tell them what to do.

HTML & CSS are two examples of computer languages that are not specifically programming languages. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn them! In fact, knowing HTML & CSS is a requirement for all web developers and most web designers, and it’s a great place for a budding web developer to start.

HTML tells your browser what to do with each part of a web page.

Understanding how browsers interpret HTML was a big “aha” moment for me – your browser (Chrome or Firefox, for example) is built to read HTML (and other languages).

What do you see when you visit a website? Probably a site title, a navigation bar, and some blocks of text. A browser can tell the difference between a paragraph and a headline because all the content on a site is marked with an HTML tag.

You write HTML just like normal text and save it in a file with .html at the end. HTML is the only thing that you have to have in order to make a website, but it won’t be too pretty.

While HTML identifies and classifies each part of a webpage, CSS determines what they look like. In the example above, you might have deduced that the HTML

tag tells a browser that something is a paragraph. To make all of our paragraphs pink and bold, we can write some CSS like this:

Like HTML, you can write CSS in a text editor, but instead of saving it with an .html suffix, you’ll use .css.

With CSS, you can make web pages beautiful with colors, spacing, layouts, borders, fonts and more. The power of CSS lies in the fact that it controls the web pages overall, giving them a consistent style with one framework. You don’t have to make a decision about every page, and if you want to change all the pages, you can just edit the stylesheet.

HTML & CSS skills are useful for and often integrated into many different types of jobs, from social media marketers to user experience designers.

JAVASCRIPT

You know when one of those “Hey! Look at our newsletter!” popups appears in the middle of your screen? Or when your Twitter automatically updates? Or when you click a drop down menu on a mobile site? All of those are examples of JavaScript.

JavaScript makes websites interactive. It takes HTML and CSS and gives it a way to move around without reloading the page. If something moves on a website and you didn’t do anything to make it happen (like click a link to a new page), that’s JavaScript in the works.

JavaScript has been around for a while, but it didn’t become really popular until about 10 years ago, with the advent of “AJAX” and “Web 2.0.” These were sets of technology that used JavaScript in a whole new way, allowing the Web to be way more interactive than it had been before.

These days, JavaScript is incredibly popular, especially in frameworks that make it simple to incorporate HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Popular frameworks include Ember.js, Angular.js, and Backbone.js, all of which allow for much more complex uses of AJAX, as well as Node.js, which allows you to run JavaScript on a server, have made JavaScript one of the hottest computer languages out there. A 2014 analysis of job descriptions showed that JavaScript was the most in-demand computer language, showing up in nearly 14% of all developer job ads.

You might have also heard of "Java," but that’s actually a completely different language. The joke goes, “Java is to Javascript what Car is to Carpet.”

The above languages, HTML, CSS and JavaScript, are all "frontend” web languages, meaning they define, style and animate the parts of the website that you see and interact with in your browser. This means the buttons, the dropdown menus and the big bold fonts. Frontend languages allow you to affect how content is laid out on a webpage, how it is structured and styled, and how users can interact with it.

But there’s a lot more that goes into making a website work. Websites are a lot like icebergs: you only see what’s above water (the frontend), but below the water it goes hundreds of feet deep.

The “backend” is everything that happens before it gets to your browser: the systems and structures that edit, store, and source the data and content that makes up the website you see. For example, if you’re booking a flight, it’s in the backend of the website that the prices are checked, itineraries are booked, and credit cards are charged. A backend can be very simple or very complicated. The backend can also be edited without the user ever knowing that changes are being made. Typically, when someone says “programming,” they are referring to the work done behind the scenes.