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Knowing Your Code

Building a Website Part 4

In this installment of my blog on building a web site, knowing your code, I give basic description of some of the code and programing languages used in building a web site. I hope to also give a very basic understanding of what the code does. There is a lot of documentation on the web if you would like to learn more.


Code or a programing language is in most cases a grouping of symbols and commands that tell a computer to complete a task in a set way. Some languages are designed for set tasks and others are more universal. When it comes to websites you are communicating with a number of different machines and trying to get each machine to display the content of your website.  If you really begin to think about the vast amount of internet connected devices that can display a website, you really begin to understand the need for a language that allows a great number of different screens and machines to display a website correctly. 


Most of this work of translating the code or language of the script into a readable display is done by the browser and software installed on the device. For that reason there ae a number of open source codes that are collectively used. These languages are used to send translate in most cases a set of instructions of the programs operating on the computer about what and how to display the content of the web site. Just like a recipe the scripts give an ordered list of instructions to produce the best result. It usually starts with a introduction that states the language that the code is going to be in, then commands about how to display content.


Think back to the recipe reference and think of your website's content as the meat of the dish and the code is the seasoning, cooking time, setting time and other instructions to reproduce the same results each and every time. The recipe may call for spice blends or rubs that are a combination of a number of different base spices and those blends can be bought or blended before hand. Adapting and changing the spices or changing the instructions can greatly effect the outcome. Also with a large supply of spices and spice blends there is no end to the combinations of flavors you can produce but all spices effect how the meat tastes. Scripts can be both spice, cooking time and other instruction and sometimes everything at once. Just like spices and cooking instructions some combinations can cause unforeseen results, sometimes good and sometimes bad and just like a cook, you often have to experiment with different combinations to get the results you want.


Below are some of the most commonly used web site languages used in modern websites. The description is very basic and to give you the most basic understand of their use.  


HTML When I first started building site, you had to know HTML to build a site. HTML or HyperText Markup Language is for the most part the basic code of everything you view on the internet. It is the international langauge of the internet. It tells the browser what content to display and how to display it. With HTML you can tell the browser what color the background is to be, what size and style the font is, what files to display and what text is links. The code at it's most basic level really isn't that hard to learn and regardless of what kind of site you are building, knowing at least some basic HTML. You can find the most basic and most used codes at; Regardless of how advance the CMS code or editor of your site is there will be from time to time that you will need to do things the old fashion way. Most commonly links to other sites, e-mail addresses or telephone numbers. 


CSS or Cascading Style Sheets is a file that over rides the markup of the website and tells the browser how to display the content of the site. CSS is a language like HTML but instead of coding each page style like HTML, with CSS it can be written to format a number of pages or documents into whatever format is needed. So you can creat a uniform website or have pages with different layouts. 


JavaScript is a program language that allows the user of the user of a site to interact or cause the site to chance when activated. For example, when a color of text changes when you hover over it, sliders or galleries. Think of it as a small program that instead of running on your computer, runs on the server/computer that the website is on. The user then activates the program remotely by interacting with the website. It can effect what how the end user's computer displays the content also.


Bootstap is a tool that combines both HTML and CSS to handle the Markup of a site with Java Script extensions. It works kind of like a operating system running in the background that allows the user to write basic codes into a website on the fly. It can all simple icons and effects with only a few codes. For more information go to


PHP is yet another program language used in web development. It lives mostly on the same server that hosts the web site and works in the background when a script on a web page activates it.  This allows the websites code to be lighter and call to another source outside of the file to do the real work. 


In the next installment I will be covering the glue that holds it all together CMS or Content Management System.


Go to Part 5

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