Ok, so HTML isn’t actually a programming language, but learning how to create an HTML page is often a person’s first step on their path to learning how to program.
You might recognize “HTML” as sometimes appearing as a part of a link to a website or in your browser’s address bar. It stands for Hypertext Markup Language. HTML was originally designed to help people format their text documents so they can be presented to readers in a cleaner way.
With HTML you build documents with building blocks named elements; for example, the element that contains the main content of an HTML page is named the “body” element, while inside the body element you often will see multiple “paragraph” elements represented by a “
” that indicate to the browser where each paragraph resides.
Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are most commonly used to define how a webpage should look when viewed by a browser; for example, you can set the text color or background color of certain elements with CSS.
However, you can also define animations and when they should be shown to the user, decide when to hide or show certain content, and precisely control the positioning of the elements of the page. Used properly, CSS can really improve the look, readability, and functionality of a website.
This functionality includes actions like showing more details when a user clicks on a certain button or enhancing a text field to show the user if her password satisfies certain security requirements.
Python is an easy, general-purpose coding language designed with readability in mind. As one of the easiest programming languages, it’s often used as an introductory language for college students beginning their Computer Science study.
Typical uses of Python include implementing back end functionality for websites through libraries like Django, analyzing data, and being used as a scripting language as a part of a larger program. Still, its popularity and longevity mean Python has been used for just about everything.
Ruby is a programming language with a focus on simplicity and productivity. The Ruby on Rails framework that makes it easy to use Ruby to create and provide web applications to users.
Ruby is often compared with Python, as the two languages have common use cases, with Ruby similarly being a capable scripting language and able to be used for analyzing data. However, there’s increasingly a focus of Ruby being used more for web application development specifically.
Still, you can reasonably choose Ruby as your first programming language as it has a friendly community with many great, free resources for the beginning programmer.
Learn to Program is an online book that uses Ruby to teach you the basics of writing a program, or for a more whimsical, illustrated experience of learning the same concepts you can instead read Why’s (Poignant) Guide to Ruby.
Java is many developers’ first exposure to the principles of Object-Oriented design. As one of the easiest coding languages to learn, it’s commonly used to teach college students the basics of design patterns and software engineering.
Another general-purpose programming language, Java is one of the most popular for enterprise development, perhaps due to its straightforward nature, stability, and large community of developers.
As an example, one important project that makes use of Java is the Android Software Developer Kit (SDK), which allows developers to create applications that function on devices that use the Android Operating System. Additionally, we can point to Netflix as another example of Java’s power, as the language was used to build the foundation of Netflix’s streaming service.
For someone just starting out with programming, it might feel a little overwhelming because, compared to Python, Java is a bit more involved, while still requiring you to set up your own development environment. Still, once you get started working in Java, you shouldn’t run into too many surprises.