I’m a native English speaker, and I can speak un poquito español, but if you ask me, I’ll tell you I’m multilingual. That’s because I’m a web developer, and the web is built using a variety of different types of code known as languages.
In this first of two posts as part of the Web Dev 101 series, we explore front-end coding languages used on the web and list my suggestions for learning developers.
Coding languages really are like traditional spoken languages. They all have unique punctuation rules, syntaxes, synonyms, and writing conventions (that many people break just like spoken languages). The good news is, though, that you won’t have to sit through French class to learn to code. There are plenty of resources available online for learning the various coding languages. More on these in a later post.
To help you navigate the long list, I’ve prepared of list of languages than I consider to be the foundation for all web developers. Following are front-end languages I recommend as a starting point, ordered in the sequence I suggest learning them.
HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is ground zero for everything web and is your undeniable starting point. HTML is a markup language that tells your browser how to distinguish between code and text. Every website is built on an underlying structure of HTML code.
Try this: Navigate to your favorite website and right-click somewhere in the white space on the home page. In the context menu that pops up, click “View Page Source.” A new tab will open in your browser with lines of text that, to an untrained eye, seem like a bunch of mumbo jumbo. Behold: HTML.
CSS is to web as ornaments are to a Christmas tree. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a style sheet language that makes websites “pretty.” Most developers learn HTML and CSS simultaneously because no one would use a website that isn’t styled with CSS.
SASS and LESS essentially function to accomplish the same goal, but some experts recommend one over the other. Both SASS and LESS are stylesheet languages with the goal of making it easier for you to write CSS. Both get compiled into CSS files that can then be understood by your browser.
You can get by without learning SASS or LESS, but I recommend learning at least one because they offer incredibly useful, awesome, time-saving features like variables, functions, and code nesting. Plus, many web development firms are making them standard in their process.
In a coming post in this series, I’ll cover the basics of back-end coding languages and complete the list of essential languages for new web developers.
In the meantime, as you begin to work with these front-end languages, don’t forget to use your resources if you get stuck. Stack Overflow will soon become your new best friend.