Creating a web page can be from child’s play to a very complex task. It all depends on the type of web page that we want to create and the use that we are going to make of it. Creating a personal static website is not the same as creating a dynamic website for a company that sells online or a news outlet. Depending on the type of website, it will be necessary to use one or the other programming languages .
Normally we tend to think that HTML and CSS are the most widely used programming languages across the web. And although it is advisable to have knowledge about them, technically we cannot say that they are programming languages. Its correct definition will be “markup languages”, specially thought for everything related to the format and design of the web.
What do we need to create a website
The way of giving life to a web page has changed a lot over time. Years ago, anyone could create a simple page from a simple notepad. Today there are complete programming IDEs that guide us through the process, help us to debug the code … and even platforms that allow us to create websites without using code.
Broadly speaking, the only thing we will need to create a web page is a text editor. Whether it’s a notepad, an alternative like Notepad ++, or an IDE like Visual Studio Code, we need a place to write. We will do the frontend in HTML and CSS, while the backend we can program it in the language we want.
If we are going to create a static web, only with frontend, we will not need any server to test it, since the browser itself will open and draw it. But if the web is dynamic, and has a backend, we will need a server, both in the cloud and on our own PC. To create websites, yes, we can use both Windows and Linux or macOS, it is indifferent.
If we want to specialize in web development, the first thing we should think about is whether we are interested in focusing on the client part, or frontend, what users see, or on the server part, or backend, everything that is processed in the Remote server. You cannot (or, rather, should) cover everything at once. Each type of development has a purpose, some characteristics and, of course, they use specific languages that we must know.
Among its characteristics we can highlight, for example, its similarity with the C language (since it is based on it), its dynamism and being an object-oriented language, but without classes. In addition to the original language, there are a large number of frameworks, or frameworks, that allow programmers to manipulate functions, simplify the language, and make it much more powerful.
Some of the most popular are:
Web development facing the server, or backend
PHP, the most used on the web
Without a doubt, one of the most used web programming languages. It is used to program dynamic web pages and applications that require interaction with a database. PHP does not generate the HTML, but instead sends text directly to the HTML of the web pages.
This is one of the easiest backend languages to learn mainly due to its syntax. In addition, it is invisible to the browser and the client, since they will only see the HTML generated by PHP on the server based on the information they are requesting.
It has a large number of modules, or extensions, and also has a large number of frameworks that allow you to customize, simplify and improve the possibilities of this language. The most important are:
As drawbacks, many developers complain that the code cannot be hidden (only complicated or obfuscated), so anyone can view or copy it. Also, when interpreted, it can sometimes run slower than other lower-level languages.
This programming language is object-oriented and has a large number of macros and frameworks specially oriented for web development, leaving out an infinity of functions designed especially for the development of more advanced programs.
One of the drawbacks of this programming language is that it is quite difficult to learn. However, if we can master it, we can use it for much more than web development. For example, for the development of apps for Android.
Although Python has many purposes, within web development it is mostly used as a scripting language and to automate certain tasks. It is very easy to learn and very compatible, making it a popular option especially among beginner web programmers.
In addition to its great ease, if we learn to master this programming language we can expand our borders beyond the web, since this language is used in software development, and even video games.
Go is a programming language developed by Google that seeks to mimic the syntax and performance of C while wanting to be as dynamic as Python. This is a compiled, structured, and object-oriented programming language.
Google uses it in its own backend, although since there are many other more popular alternatives (such as PHP or Python), it is not exactly one of the most used. Knowing it never hurts, although first we should give priority to some of the previous languages.
C / C ++ / C #
These are not web programming languages as such, but they are often of great server-side importance. Along with Java, any web developer who specializes in backend should know this programming language if they do not want to be stuck in the face of any problem.
Also, considering that many of the other languages are inspired by C, having knowledge about these languages will help us to learn and understand the others better.
Perl is another interpreted programming language that is inspired by C and, in turn, has inspired other languages such as PHP, Python, and Ruby.
This programming language has been essential for the evolution of the Internet and to make the webs the way they are now. However, its performance leaves much to be desired, which is why more and more developers are neglecting it when speed and response time are relevant.
Ruby is a very simple object-oriented programming language, which has led many developers to choose it when building their backend.
Among its characteristics we can indicate that it is very easy to read, simple to learn but quite difficult to master. This programming language inherits its syntax from Python and Perl, it can load libraries dynamically and it is very versatile.
Databases: something fundamental in web development
The management and administration of databases, although it is part of backend development, deserves a special mention in the programming languages section. Inside the database is where all the information will be stored. It is one of the critical parts of a web infrastructure, since if it is lost or damaged, we will lose absolutely everything.
Although there are no programming languages as such, there are several types of databases, being able to choose one or the other according to the needs of each website and the knowledge of each developer.
The two most popular database management systems are MySQL and NoSQL.
MySQL, the most popular
MySQL is the most widely used database management system in all web development. This is owned by Oracle and is used in all types of web page development and web-based applications.
The characteristics of this system are:
- Free source code under the GPL license.
- Relational nature: all data is stored in different tables and relationships are established using keys.
- Quick and easy to use, for both small and very large projects.
- It uses the SQL data language.
MySQL has been on the web much longer than NoSQL, so it is much more used, it has more professionals and, given the complexity of migrating databases from one system to another, many platforms do not update.
NoSQL, a design-centric alternative
NoSQL is another database management system widely used in web development, especially within Big Data analysis, given its design. This programming language focuses more on design than structure, and does not support the SQL language for querying.
The main characteristics of this system are:
- Non-relational programming language.
- For certain operations, it is faster than MySQL.
- Simple design.
- Changes are propagated across all nodes in near real time.
- Very easy to climb.
In addition, it has an increasingly large community, so it has more and more support and a much more continuous development.
PostgreSQL, a growing rival
Finally, we want to refer to this related database management system. This has been a pioneer in many concepts and, although it is still far from being one of the most used, little by little it is getting many of MySQL users to migrate to it.
Among its features we can highlight that it is fully compatible with SQL and NoSQL, so it has great compatibility and a community of users that help both in its implementation and in development.
This system is much more compatible with modern applications (JSON, XML, ACID, etc.), in addition to positioning itself as the best alternative to obsolete systems such as Oracle, DB2 and SQL Server, especially because it does not require licenses of any kind.