Web Languages: Decoded


Web Languages: Decoded

Those of us who have become well seasoned to the dyslexia-inducing array of web languages often overlook the diversity and additional interactivity we can gain by learning another language or two.

Perhaps you are a beginner trying to understand what you need to spend time learning, or perhaps you’re an experienced individual looking for something new to play with.

Whichever situation applies to you, this article aims to underline the various languages at your disposal and where they fit in the puzzle.

It should be an interesting ride and seasoned experts may find languages they’ve not yet encountered!

Too Many Cooks

When it comes to the diversity of coding for the web, the well-known phrase "too many cooks spoil the broth" springs to mind. Not only in the way browsers support modern standards but the ever increasing range of competing formats that exist.

Should you use HTML or XHTML, RSS or Atom, PHP or ASP.NET, SVG or VML, JavaScript or VBS? The list is near endless.

I wouldn’t blame anyone for getting confused at this point because the question itself often relies on personal preference — something you probably won’t have established until you understand the language and use it regularly.

This Catch-22 situation is usually only resolved when experienced people come together and educate each other on why their language is better the others (or as I like to call it, a flame war).

Enough abbreviations to make an English scholar tremble (and give you a migraine)Enough abbreviations to make an English scholar tremble (and give you a migraine)!

What Web Language Should You Learn?

So what is the answer you seek, to which languages you should learn? The simple answer is… it depends.

The deciding factor is not only reliant on the type of site you are trying to produce but also the depth of complexity you wish to delve into.

Therefore, before we can hope to determine which languages you should choose, we need to categorise all of the available options based on their purpose.

At first, this may seem like a complex task, but luckily for us, web languages are well-documented and each explains its purpose in context to the various existing layers of the web.

Every language has a specification which explains its purpose and function.Every language has a specification which explains its purpose and function.

While documentation for each language exists, picking those worthy of your consideration and how they relate to each other in the function they undertake is something beginners regularly struggle with. You literally have to wade through the heavy number of choices and select one that you looks interesting and useful to you.

While I won’t even attempt to individually explain each language’s history (as this article will become encyclopedic in length at that point – instead, I’ll link up to their specifications) we shall coordinate the choices into easy-to-recognise segments, and from there, you can decide which choice best meets your needs.

Language Layers

So how many language layers exist? Most people recognise layers like structural markup (HTML), stylesheet (CSS), client-side scripting (JavaScript) and server-side scripting (PHP) but you may be surprised to hear that if you account for every variant based on its intended purpose, a whopping 15 different layers exist.

Of course at this stage it’s worth pointing out that learning 15 languages to cover every possible layer isn’t going to be in your best interests as you’ll simply be spending all your time learning, but learning a new layer as you need the skill can be of genuine benefit to you.

There are 15 language layers which comprise the full spectrum of web development.There are 15 language layers that comprise the full spectrum of web development.

Each layer represents a unique piece of functionality such as the ability to add behaviour that interacts with the end user (in the case of JavaScript) or a method of providing dynamic vector graphics on the screen (in the case of SVG).

Having the knowledge to experiment and implement the various independent layers will give you an advantage both in operating as a professional (that you will be able to cover a wider range of skills) and as a hobbyist or newbie (where you can jump for joy at the extended level of fun you can have while experimenting with the web’s offerings).

Having a wide range of skills will showcase your ever growing competency.Having a wide range of skills will showcase your growing competency.

Of course, while these layers constitute endless possibilities of functionality which can be injected into your website, some people may simply require only a couple of these layers to produce a basic website (such as HTML and CSS).

There is absolutely nothing wrong with limiting or making a niche for your skills and become a master of either a single layer (and language choice).

This article simply acts as a starting point to which you can examine your current level of knowledge against the wider array of web languages (to determine what you can follow on from – if you know any, that is).

Sometimes a simple website requires nothing more than a couple of languages.Sometimes a simple website requires nothing more than a couple of languages.

Collective Choices

In the language layer diagram that you saw earlier, it became apparent that there’s a whole bunch of layers which comprise a website’s unique structure, but as it currently stands, it’s not much use to you as there’s no actual languages listed.

Well this is where all of those awesome abbreviations come in.

For each language layer that exists, you will find (below) a list of the languages which fit the category, their browser support levels, popularity status (useful for seeking help) and details such as the level of complexity involved, and some recommendations based on that information (highlighted from the other languages).

Note: Some languages are a subset of another language listed and some languages may be derived off of a certain implementation, but due to public awareness they have been referenced separately.

It’s also worth noting that recommendations are provided based on my own experience, and so there may be some contention on some points depending on who you talk to.

Markup Languages

Markup LanguagesThere are four commonly used markup languages involved in web development.

Syndication Languages

Syndication LanguagesThere are two commonly used syndication languages for content delivery.

Metadata Languages

Metadata LanguagesThere are five commonly used methods to embed rich contextual metadata.

Stylesheet and Transform Languages

Stylesheet and Transform LanguagesThere is a single stylesheet language and a single transformation language for the web.

Client-Side Scripting

Client-Side ScriptingThere are a number of client side languages, though most are connected to JavaScript!

Server-Side Scripting

Server-Side ScriptingThere are a huge number of server-side languages to choose from.

Database Management Systems

Database Management SystemsThere are four popular SQL-based relational databases worthy of consideration.

Sandboxed Languages

Sandboxed LanguagesThe likes of Flash and Silverlight run in an independent sandboxed environment.

Server-Side/Web Server Settings

Server-Side/Web Server SettingsThere are two configuration languages and one search engine language file!

Rich Internet Applications

Rich Internet ApplicationsThere are several frameworks which will take your web applications to the desktop.

Vector Modeling Languages

Vector Modeling LanguagesThere are 5 popular modeling languages for both 2D and 3D graphic and chart rendering.

PostScript Format Languages

PostScript Format LanguagesThere are two web compatible PostScript formats for document manuscripts.

Data Formatting Languages

Data Formatting LanguagesAll of the above languages format information of various different mediums.

Document Schema Languages

Document Schema LanguagesThere are two popular schemas for rendering markup languages on the web.

A Caveat about Comprehensiveness

While only languages that are well recognised and have a reasonable level of support are provided in this list, it’s worth pointing out that many others exist and could perhaps be worthy of inspection if you feel the need to dive into something a little more obscure and possibly interesting.

Going Forward

Now that you are aware of the sheer multitude of options at your fingertips, I’m sure you’ll want to run off and investigate these languages further and perhaps learn another skill that you can add to your resume (or further enhance the way you approach building a website).

Just Starting Out?

If you are a beginner to the whole web design/development scene, my general advice would be to stick to one of the languages I have highlighted as recommended in each category (if you feel that researching for yourself would just confuse you) and to follow through each layer in order as it’s been listed to give you a general roadmap to cover whatever you may wish to employ (HTML is a great starter language).

Depending on the needs of your website, you can wrap additional layers around it.Depending on the needs of your website, you can wrap additional layers around it.

It’s worth making a note at this point that the order, breakdown and recommendations provided are simply my interpretation of how the task of finding a new language can be undertaken.

Factors That Can Affect Your Choice

It’s important (before we leave this discussion) to underscore the general point that your choices for each layer should be made upon a mixture of intended compatibility (so you know your choice will work for your visitors), relevancy (if the language is current or deprecated) and what you feel comfortable using.

Don’t Sweat It

Beginners to the world of web design/development should remember that even the most experienced gurus of the web started from the bottom and worked their way up one skill/language at a time.

If you feel that all the choice at your disposal is too much for you, simply follow my recommendations and you’ll not go far off course. While all of the considerations and lists may seem like a lot to take in, the great thing about coding for the web is that you only need a couple of languages to get started. The rest of your knowledge can evolve over time and evolve as you add more layers to your work.

Hopefully, you’ve been given the inspiration and pathway to perhaps look beyond the conventional HTML, CSS and JavaScript towards languages you might have never considered before, and I look forward to seeing what comes of your learning a brand new exciting web technology!

Related Content

About the Author

Alexander Dawson is a freelance web designer, author and recreational software developer specializing in web standards, accessibility and UX design. As well as running a business called HiTechy and writing, he spends time on Twitter, SitePoint’s forums and other places, helping those in need.

This was published on Jun 22, 2010


Marin Todorov Jun 22 2010

That’s definitely a well written article, but ( considering from my 13 years in the web business) I have some remarks:

1) markup languages have nothing to do with programming … so here’s an advice for people who are just entering the business – a company which asks you to know html/css/js/php/mysql is asking for a “boy for everything” – serious companies have separate positions for front end and back end programmers, so you would rather like to specialize in one of them

2) the support/momentum at present is not a critical indicator – predictions how this language does in the future are most important – php (as highlighted in the article) is not doing great. In fact it screams to be replaced by a better language, so pay attention how does it go in that area

Anyhow – as I said – a great overview indeed


Awesome reference! I bookmarked & tweeted- thanks! =)

Jacob Gube Jun 22 2010

@Marin Todorov: Great points Marin, thanks. But you have to disambiguate what you mean by “markup languages have nothing to do with programming” because HTML, XML, etc. all have a lot to do with server-side scripting (i.e. PHP). You need to understand the specs in order to create dynamic/database-driven stuff on the web. For example, let’s use PHP (since it’s pretty popular). If you were to dev an RSS feed in PHP, then wouldn’t you say XML (markup language) is intimately related to PHP in this instance? Also, wouldn’t you need to know XML in order to know how to use PHP’s XML Parser and SimpleXML extensions (both in PHP5)? Maybe I’m being pedantic — you may have meant “markup languages is not programming,” which is correct, but the author of this article never said or implied they were.

Connor Montgomery Jun 22 2010

Alexander, great article.

I just wanted to point out my thought of Python – I disagree with you rating it “hard”. Python, in my opinion, is the easiest programming language I’ve tried to learn (I’m not including HTML and CSS because those are “scripting languages”). But as far as syntax and iterations, it’s almost like English. I don’t want to go in-depth in this comment, but when white-space determines how the code is written, I think that makes it pretty darn intuitive ;)

Otherwise, fantastic article, and I appreciate you taking the time to cover all of these!

“php (as highlighted in the article) is not doing great”

Martin, what’s your source of information for that quote? As far as I’ve seen, PHP is still one of the most popular server side languages out there.

Zlatan Halilovic Jun 22 2010

@Marin Todorov
Being a “boy for everything” who has been in the web development/design field for not more than a year and a half, I feel the need to ask this (possibly silly) question: what language could emerge as a dominant server side scripting language? One of the existing ones or one that is yet to be developed?

Jacob Gube Jun 22 2010

@Connor Montgomery: Syntactically, with Python, I agree with you 100%. But Python can be a pain to run on shared hosting, and since the user base of Python is smaller than, say, PHP, there’s a lot less articles, coverage, documentation, tutorials, books, reusable resources and built-systems (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla!) out there, which can make it difficult to adapt. If you ran into trouble, there’s likely less people to turn to for help. PHP is almost always readily available on any host, and in fact, power a lot of web host admin UIs (like cPanel). I think Alexander factored that in with his rating. But Python is a very pretty language and easy to learn, syntactically.

@Zlatan Halilovic: PHP powers a lot of the top sites and apps (Digg, Facebook) and a lot of websites that use open source software (Smashing Magazine, TechCrunch, etc. all use WordPress). Enterprise devs still like .NET, though many are moving to PHP. If we can extrapolate popularity/dominance to “What powers a lot of big websites out there, and thus, if you want to interface with them natively, [this language] is what you should pick?” [this language], to me, is PHP.

That answer is overly simplified, because most of these sites have public APIs that push/pull JS/JSON and XML a lot of times – so you don’t necessarily need to use their sever-side scripting language to interface with them.

Zlatan Halilovic Jun 22 2010

@Jacob Gube
Thanks for the quick reply Jacob, but what I actually wanted to ask is: what language could replace php as a dominant server side language? Sorry for not being clear enough on that one :)

I know that a lot of popular sites are powered by php and that a lot of those that aren’t, are turning to php for various reasons. I just don’t know a lot about other languages to make an assumption that php could be dethroned by one of those. I know that Python and Ruby are pretty popular these days, but they have some disadvantages, which make developers choose php. Maybe it’s because of lower barrier of entry because php is a lot easier to learn, or maybe it’s because of other reasons, like Python being a pain in the ass on shared hosting, as you mention, and Ruby on Rails being so darn slow.

Chris Jun 22 2010

Lively discussion today. Glad that I had a moment to stop by. Jacob is clearly better at articulating the distinction between markup and programming.

I do need to point out that most is not interpreted script in a well designed application, with most logic compiled, so its hard to compare it with php directly which implies that its similar to classic asp. Perhaps if we just called it server-side execution… then again who am I to say, good job Alexander.

Jacob Gube Jun 22 2010

@Zlatan Halilovic: Ah!

PHP has pretty much solidified itself, at least in the open source server-side language category. I wish I could cite usage stats, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of a good source, so all of this is just based on anecdotal and experiential evidence.

Python IS pretty good. It’s pretty popular too, I know at least one site that proves Python’s scalability: Reddit. Ruby On Rails (which is a framework, not a scripting language – so it’s not fair to compare RoR versus PHP, but better if done as RoR versus CakePHP or Zend), I know was originally used in Twitter (not sure if they ported to PHP or not, I haven’t been keeping up with that). I know Ruby On Rails powers Shopify, Yellow Pages, and of course, 37 signals products like Basecamp (I ripped this info. off the RoR home page). If I had to put my money on which could potentially become more popular than PHP, I’d put my money on the two you mentioned, RoR and Python. But that’s my personal opinion, there are other server-side scripting languages/frameworks out there. I’d say ASP.NET is great as well, and is rarely mentioned, but pretty popular, especially in enterprise RAD.

@Chris: Yeah, I feel chatty today – even though I have a ton of things I need to be doing on the site, like getting articles ready for publication, I think it’s much more important to talk to you guys.

Good point about ASP.NET. I used .NET before PHP (professionally, at least), but must admit I haven’t touched a .NET app in years. Important distinction nonetheless. But, I’d still group them together, just out of simplicity – but I do know a closer/fairer comparison would may be ASP.NET versus a PHP framework.

Ricky Jun 22 2010

Having been a web development professional for about 5 years now, I’d say that this actually say that this vastly bloated analysis, to the point of being wrong.

First off, I would hardly call the “DOM” a programming language. From Wikipedia:

“The Document Object Model (DOM) is a cross-platform and language-independent convention for representing and interacting with objects in HTML, XHTML and XML documents.”

The DOM is more similar to a protocol than it is a language, and most certainly cannot be compared with Javascript.

In addition, the section Server-Side/Web Server Settings has the “.htaccess” file and the “robots.txt” file compared. Their function is as different as night and day, and comparing them (especially as an introduction to languages) is just silly.

Bottom line: When learning the web, you must know HTML, JS, and CSS. From there, you need to know how to work with an RDBMS (either MSSQL, MySQL, or Oracle), and you need to know a server side language (ASP.NET and PHP are popular).

Ricky Jun 22 2010

Try that first sentence again…It should read:

“Having been a web development professional for about 5 years now, I’d say that this is a vastly bloated analysis, to the point of being wrong.”

Alexander Dawson Jun 22 2010

Thanks for the comments guys, glad you enjoyed the article!

@Marin Todorov: Excellent comments and well noted, though I agree with Jacob that markup languages and programming do have more in common than many people realise. I do a bit of C# coding (for desktop applications) and I use XML to manage profiles and configuration settings (as an example).

@Connor Montgomery: While I do love Python, I was stating the levels of complexity in relation to all of the other languages on the list. If you place Python against a language like CSS, the raised level of complexity becomes apparent. The reason I did this was to allow the less experienced readers to get an idea of where their current skill-set could evolve (if they want to progress past something like HTML to another level).

@Chris: I grouped them together mainly based on the role they undertake in preference to the way the language itself works. While there are differences between PHP and ASP.NET, they both perform useful actions whilst running at the server-side. Perhaps simplistic but with so many languages it’s probably a good thing!

Jacob Gube Jun 22 2010

@Alexander Dawson: I was about to add an extension/clarification to my earlier comment about XML, because I re-read it and it seemed like XML was just for web stuff. You beat me to it. XML’s used in conjunction with a lot of desktop apps and offline apps. I know a few video games that use XML for user preference and layout customization.

Zlatan Halilovic Jun 22 2010

@Jacob Gube
I remember reading an article a while ago on Twitter abandoning RoR because of scalability and performance issues, and I’m pretty much sure they did port to php since then. And yeah, I know that RoR is a framework, so it wasn’t fair of me to compare those two. However, what puzzles me is Python because I haven’t heard anything bad about it. My friend is actually a long-time Python coder, and he states that it is a developer’s dream, but then again, he might be somewhat biased because he is involved with the language for some time now. Anyway, thanks for your response :) Oh, and I almost forgot; I started reading your book a few days ago (“Mootools 1.2 Beginner’s Guide”) and I think it’s awesome. Rock on buddy! :)

Young Jun 22 2010

I agree with Jacob – you can’t specialize in just one type of language and expect a good website to come out. Whether your front-end or back-end, you need a good understanding of the other field to produce more homogeneous and efficient websites.

I enjoyed the comprehensiveness of this list. I only wish a couple lines were added for each category, briefly comparing and contrasting the different choices in terms of security, syntactical intuitiveness, setup difficulty, and what sort of websites are employing each.

Jacob Gube Jun 22 2010

@Zlatan Halilovic: Yeah, I heard about Twitter abandoning RoR, but wasn’t sure if they did in fact do it and if they’ve finished fully porting (I’d imagine with all that data, it wouldn’t be that easy), or what. In my experience, the smaller and newer the community is, the less bad things you hear about it. Once it explodes in popularity, you’ll eventually hear more and more criticisms about it. RoR is the most recent example of this phenomena that I can think of. Everyone loved it, no bad thing about it. It was supposed to be the PHP killer. But now, not so much.

Hope you enjoy the book, I put a lot of time and effort into it, and I hope that effort shows through!

@Young: I would’ve liked to see a bit more too, especially on syntactical intuitiveness, setup difficulty, and security, but Alexander would’ve had a tough time expertly evaluating all of those for this many languages. However, on a smaller scale (like say, popular server-side languages), I think this would be an excellent follow-up article – I’ll see what I can do.

Alexander Dawson Jun 22 2010

While it’s true that such a comparison would make for good reading (if there’s someone brave enough to attempt such an analysis!), as many of the languages listed (like HTML, SVG and CSS) do not have the same considerations which are critical to server-side language choices (like security, speed, scalability, setup, extensibility, intuitiveness, update cycles, features, community, license, OS support, host support and many more – phew!) I chose to keep the language details at a safe, digestible level.

I have to say something about python….
Ok I agree that its not as easy as throwing up some php to shared hosting but if you aren’t a total newbie in server side, python is easy to learn with a helpful community and most of all, great source of libraries u can use and learn from.
I’m grateful to python for truly understanding serious programming and for being able to create so much in so little time.

Joe Maiers Jun 22 2010

Great Article! Being an aspiring Web Developer (I have 1 year left in my degree program), I am often overwhelmed when I think of all the languages there are to learn. I have a firm knowledge of XHTML, CSS, and JS and I have recently been experimenting with developing AJAX and PHP from scratch as well as integrating jQuery scripts into my designs.

It’s nice to see an article like this that addresses the concerns I have when I think that I might be in over my head. I guess I’m on the right path to begin with client side scripting and mark-up before moving into the meatier languages. I dream of the day that I can develop a database driven site with a client accessible CMS. Baby steps … baby steps.

Jerry Jun 23 2010

Great article, and great comments/discussion. Invaluable to an entrepreneur.

I am fairly new to web dev, but as guy with BS in business and wanting to start up a new web development company to focus on small business projects I see a clear choice. The path of languages to learn that enable me to become operational and profitable as a start up is HTML > CSS > Jscript > PHP > MSQL.

These languages enable me to focus (service) on a large part of the market where there might not be as high of a profit margin but definitely a high demand.

Do you guys agree that these languages cover me as far as being able to develop websites that have features a majority of business desire.


Eko Setiawan Jun 23 2010

It’s very complete, thanks for share…I became more understanding about the web language now.

Zlatan Halilovic Jun 23 2010

@Jacob Gube: Yeah, you made a good point there. It certainly does makes sense that they didn’t move completely away from RoR, and that they still use Rails for a bunch of stuff.

Anyway, as far as your book is concerned, so far so good I would say. It’s a pleasure to see that you’re not trying to teach us, readers, basic javascript, like some other books do, just to populate the pages. No sirrie Jacob! I could go on and on, but it’s just best to say that your book is like a delicious dessert after dinner, as a conclusion.

Cheers! :)

Paulo França Lacerda Jun 23 2010

Nice article.

Just missed Firebird in your lsit of Database Management Systems. Yes, it’s largely used for web development as well.

Jacob Gube Jun 23 2010

@Zlatan Halilovic: Yeah, it’d be quite difficult for a full port, but maybe they’ve been able to. It’s not well-publicized, you’d think there would be a lot of coverage on this.

About the book: I don’t want to hijack Alexander’s awesome article and talk about me and my book, but since the book is about MooTools, which is a JS framework, and JS is a web language, it’s somewhat related. :D

Anyways, I’m glad you saw that I didn’t want to fill up the book with fluff. There wasn’t a page limit, so I could’ve made it bigger, but my goal was to get you running as quickly as possible so that you can spend more time actually making awesome MooTools code instead of reading a book for months. My fear was that some folks might get intimidated, especially because I started the book with probably the most difficult subject, MooTools classes. But my idea behind it was, if you start with classes first, which is such an amazing system when you grok it, you’ll understand the fundamentals more and you would have created an investment into learning the subject that would promote you from keeping on going (plus I feel that it really defines what MooTools is about: OOP). MooTools is great; it taught me a lot about JavaScript, and the reason I didn’t fill up pages with basic JavaScript stuff was because by learning MooTools, you will naturally learn basic JavaScript along the way. MooTools doesn’t revise the JavaScript syntax and language, it just extends it with useful functions and methods that should be in JavaScript specs; the utility functions in MooTools is the most basic representation of this concept, in my opinion.

Jordan Walker Jun 23 2010

Great article about the differences of programming languages and the popularity of each. Cheers!

Zlatan Halilovic Jun 23 2010

@Jacob Gube: “…(plus I feel that it really defines what MooTools is about: OOP)…MooTools doesn’t revise the JavaScript syntax and language, it just extends it with useful functions and methods that should be in JavaScript specs.” -This is exactly why I was drawn to Mootools from jQuery. jQuery is only focused on the DOM, while Mootools takes the whole js language into its scope, and since I picked up wrox’s book “Professional Javascript for Web Developers II edition”, I figured that the perfect thing for me to do would be to learn MooTools, and that’s when I found your book and fell in love with it. Because the first one is around 800 pages long, I decided to read both at the same time, one chapter at a day. As I mentioned already, I just started reading it, but based on the reviews, everyone seemed to like it so much, and now I’m starting to see why. As David Walsh mentioned on his blog a while ago: “MooTools 1.2 Beginner’s Guide should be required reading for MooTools developers looking to master the basic of MooTools”. :D

Scott Petrovic Jun 23 2010

Great article. It can be a bit perplexing with all of the different languages out there. A future article that would be great is one on what you would use each language for. I don’t have much experience with Ruby or Java, so it is hard for me to sometimes decide which language I need to learn to do a particular task. Nothing in mind at the moment, but it would be good to know what is possible with each one and why people choose them.

As language’s go and what employers here in the UK are asking for is:

xhtml, css, Javascript(jquery) and PHP. ASP.NET is also in high demand. Going up to the top of these comments…..after 13 years HTML is not a language to learn. Come on it’s what the web is built on and PHP is by far the preferred choice.

Great article though….enjoyed the read!

Alexander Dawson Jun 24 2010

@Neil: You can’t have a website without HTML (or XML) so claiming it’s not a language to learn is fundamentally flawed. Even if you make use of PHP for server-side scripting, it requires HTML to serve the result to web browsers. Though I’m glad you enjoyed the read!

steve Jun 26 2010

Are mobile apps consider “Web”? Anyway, since I’m a newbie, the most logical or save way to web development path is following HTML > CSS > Javascript > PHP > MSQL right?

Ellie K Aug 07 2010

Alexander, thanks for putting together this post. I read it carefully, and then read all the comments.

I remain certain that I haven’t seen as concise but thorough overview of web development languages, scripts, protocols etc, with associated examples and even relative comparisons anywhere! Seriously. I’ve been looking for several months for something like this, that wasn’t a 500+ page book, or merely a small subset of what you covered.

The comments gave pointers and perhaps corrections. That’s okay, there’s always some subjectivity once you start drilling down to greater detail levels, and receive critique from people who already have a lot of knowledge.

However, this post is great for me, a mere HTML, CSS novice with Oracle SQL skill from my past! Thanks again.

Marin Todorov Aug 13 2010

@Jacob Gube – just stumbled upon this article after lot of time and saw your reply. Yes indeed “nothing to do with” is probably to strong of a statement!

It’s just I’m often bothered when job ads would freely exchange “writing markup” with “programming” and “html” with “php”. I often see a tagline like “A web ninja programmer wanted” (I mean … where all this ninja hype came from anyway?) and then they are looking for somebody who’s doing html/css and has experience with dreamweaver,flash and photoshop :)

Your point is valid : one should in the end understand all the technologies used in a web project; but being a good professional in specific area will in the end probably get you a better salary :)))

Craig Sep 08 2010

Great post and the the programming languages highlighted are all great recommendations to get a really good start to web development!

Christopher Oct 02 2010

Excellent Article, Alex I really liked it.

Christopher :)

I would recommend PHP and MySQL before JS. Simply because PHP is way more powerful and easier to learn. JS can be a bitch to debug :)

Lindsay K. Aug 28 2012

Quick question – I plan on building a math-based website that will need to be interactive. For example, you fill-in lines of inputs (numbers) and the site give you the answer to a math equation. What language would best suit this?

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