No, it’s not another Star Trek created language like Klingon, though it is “spoken” by a very small percentage of the population of this planet. We don’t wear pocket protectors, wear horn-rimmed glasses or go to conventions… necessarily. A web language is simply a set of processing instructions for an Internet server or even desktop Internet browser to assemble into a visual display.
In general, there are four main coding languages that are used today by most sites and several smaller or less used languages.
The main languages are:
4. Cold Fusion
The lesser known and used languages, include:
1. Perl – An older language from pre-internet days. Limited to some degree, but it has its uses
2. JSP – Java Server Pages. The ability to use this is fairly limited based on server architecture
3. C#, VB.NET, J#, C++ – These are all backbone languages for ASP/.NET and are pretty evenly spread amongst the ASP/.NET developers. While these are all more widely used than Perl and JSP, they aren’t in and of themselves, web programming languages.
There is one rising star that is gaining ground quickly and will likely outshine more than one of the more popular languages due to it’s intelligent construction and use of the MVC (Model-View-Controller) methodology. This “new kid” is called Ruby on Rails and is only partly new. The Rails framework has been around for many years, but the Ruby implementation is still a child in comparison to it’s more senior languages.
For this article, we will focus on the main 4 languages; what they are and what they do.
Hypertext Markup Language. This is the basic and standard language of the internet. Nearly all web pages are based on HTML. This language is developed and maintained by the W3 organization (www.w3schools.com/html). This language is processed by the desktop computer’s browser. While you can create some incredible web pages and presentation, you won’t get too much in the way of dynamic action without one of the following.
Post Hypertext Processor. This is one of the more popular server-side languages. It’s popularity comes mostly because it’s an open source language and developing in PHP is fairly simple. It’s format is clean and logical. It is well optimized and developed by a large community of developers. PHP is very secure and maintained consistently. PHP allows web site owners to process data on the server, such as retrieving and inserting data from and to a database or forms on the web pages. PHP processes the data, then converts it into HTML, which is then transmitted to the desktop computer browser for display.
Active Server Pages / .NET. ASP and .NET are Microsoft’s answer to other server languages like PHP. ASP and .NET are essentially older vs. newer versions, ASP being the older, and original, Microsoft server language, whereas .NET is a more up-to-date and modern version of the language. Some would argue this point as .NET can be very different from ASP, but for sake of simplicity, just go with me.
In general, ASP/.NET can only be used on Microsoft Windows based servers, thus making it a bit more restricting in terms of availability.
ASP/.NET are also considered secure and flexible, offering a similar functionality as PHP, though, their methods are different. ASP/.NET typically uses more interactive scripts in the desktop browser for processing and transmitting data for the server to handle, thus spreading out the load between the server and the desktop.
Developed by Macromedia, ColdFusion runs only on a ColdFusion Server. This makes it extremely limited in availability. Additionally, ColdFusion Server is a licensed product, which means that the server host must pay for the ability to host ColdFusion sites. This usually means that ColdFusion is used more by large companies rather than individuals.
ColdFusion’s code system is designed to build the web pages from “pieces of content”. These pieces are chunks of html code combined with the data from a database.
ColdFusion has lost a lot of it’s following over the past few years due to a lack of available developers and servers.
What you use when you build your website will largely be based on what your developer knows and what is financially possible. Generally, there are a lot of PHP and ASP developers out there, if you don’t already have one. Their prices vary greatly, based on their level of knowledge. While a good developer may not be cheap, it’s worth investing a bit more in one with a higher level of knowledge as you will end up with a more professional, reliable application.