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Like Old English or Ancient Greek transforming into modern words, programming languages have evolved over time. Certain ones became the standard, others fell by the wayside. And each of them serve a distinct purpose.
Hypertext markup language has long been the standard for web development, and its fifth and latest version, HTML5, is no exception.
The language that acts as the basic building blocks for presenting content on the web, it’s still an important starting point for budding web designers and developers, since it gives web browsers much-needed directions on how to display words and images.
“HTML describes the structure of information on a page,” explains Jamie Counsell, Senior Software Developer at Konrad Group. “Computers don’t speak English, so HTML allows us to teach computers a bit about the information on the page. You can think of HTML as the bones of a website — it holds everything together and gives it structure.”
Cascading style sheets (or CSS), a style sheet language, is used alongside HTML to design web pages. The big difference between the two? Put simply, HTML is the code explaining the content — web page segments like basic text, lists of items, images, buttons, and links — while CSS handles the style and design, meaning aspects like font color and spacing, or visual effects. The beautiful websites you come across online are made that way using largely CSS. It’s essential for making a website look great, as well as for properly communicating your brand.
It’s key to know the latest version, CSS3, which allows long-awaited features like rounded corners, animations and gradients, and a variety of new layout options.
Nowadays, it’s also very important to learn the industry’s best practices for styling websites with CSS. That often means studying SASS, a popular language that extends CSS by both simplifying the coding process and adding special features.
BEM is helpful as well, as a methodology that helps organize code, reuse components, and simply speed up the coding process — something that’s particularly useful for bigger web dev projects.
But of course, like any language, it’s crucial to have a handle on the basic components of CSS before learning SASS and BEM.
Languages to avoid
With so many programming languages out there today, it can be a bit overwhelming figuring out which ones to learn. Starting with the three popular languages above is a safe bet for any budding web developer, and it’s now a good idea to steer clear of some other increasingly phased-out options.
Perl is also safe to avoid. While the flexible, three-decade-old programming language works with HTML, it’s largely been on the out, with few popular websites currently using it.
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