Technology is advancing rapidly and web development is no different. New tools and services are constantly coming into existence to help you build the next big thing. It’s great to have so much innovation in web development, but it can be very intimidating for people who are just starting out in the field and have no idea where to begin.
What is a Programming Language?
If you are an absolute beginner in the field and have never done any type of coding before, you might not even be sure what exactly a programming language is.
Think of a computer program as a set of instructions on how to do something. I am certain you have seen how we need to give careful instructions, step-by-step to kids on how to do something for the first time. The language for instructions can be English, Chinese, Hindi, Spanish or anything else. The point is that kids should be able to understand what you want them to do.
It is a bit more complicated but computers are similar to kids in this manner. You need to give them very specific instructions to get things done. The difference is that computers need a lot more instructions and they will always do what you tell them to do. The languages that are used to give these instructions to computers are called programming languages.
This is just a simplistic view of the job of programming languages. If you want to understand the history and theory of programming languages more deeply, I would suggest that you start with this article.
You can entirely create a website by just using raw HTML. It gives instructions to computers on what to display on a webpage. However, HTML is not a programming language. It is a markup language as suggested by it’s full name: HyperText Markup Language. A markup language is intended to describe content, not to give instructions to a computer. Also, pages created with HTML alone usually don’t look very pretty and they aren’t very interactive.
You can make a website more visually appealing by adding CSS that goes with the HTML. CSS is used to tell browsers how they should display a particular piece of HTML. CSS isn’t a proper programming language either. It just tells the computer how to style a webpage. So, HTML tells the computer what to display, and CSS says what it should look like.
What are jQuery, React, Angular, and Vue.js?
In this section, I’ll provide a brief explanation of these libraries and frameworks.
This is yet another framework that you can use to build single page applications and web apps. It is smaller in size and comparatively easier to learn than Angular.
Things get easy once you have learned at least one programming language because the fundamental concepts stay the same. Different languages might introduce new features and get rid of some of the limitations of other languages but those will be easy to learn.
Different languages have their own rules about declaring variables and where the value of those variables will stay well-defined etc. MDN provides a good deal of information about variables in their introductory series.
Let’s say you want to keep track of the value of
srcattributes of different images on a webpage. Coming up with a unique variable name to store them all will be error-prone and won’t have much utility. You will most probably want to manipulate them as a group. This is where arrays become helpful.
Once again, MDN will teach you all the basics of strings that you need to know.
There are some things that you would want to do again and again when writing code. This could include things like creating darker shades of a given color. Use of functions helps you avoid code duplication. You write your code and give it a name to call it again from different places.
Functions are also described in detail on MDN. There are many things that you will learn there about functions on the page.
Not only that, but you’ll also go on to learning one of the fundamental languages for back-end web development: PHP. You’ll learn how to set up a server on your own computer for development, and how to create a simple PHP application to render a web page. By the end, your app will be able to receive data from the user and respond to it.
It’s easier than you think!
Two popular ones that come to mind are JSFiddle and CodePen.
Reading Code from Open Source Projects
One awesome thing about programming is that people will solve different problems according to their own thought process resulting in some unique solutions.