Different Types of Coding Languages

Different coding languages are all around us. From the website you’re currently on to the GPS in our cars and phones, every technological product uses some programming language. This applies to the self-checkout machine at the grocery store, the RedBox kiosk, the fancy espresso machine, and those high-tech refrigerators that tell you the weather. 

All of this runs on code.

Depending on the software and hardware of each system, a specific coding language is required to communicate with it. What are these types of coding languages? And which ones should you focus on? 

Let’s dive in.

Categorizing Types of Coding Languages

When looking through the hundreds of coding languages available, it’s helpful to have an internal map of how these operate.

Two categorizations you’ll often hear are:

  • High-level vs low-level languages
  • Front-end vs back-end languages

High-level languages involve code that’s easy to read for humans, whereas low-level languages involve code that’s easy to read for machines. What you gain in accessibility with high-level languages, you lose in operational efficiency. 

Front-end languages are a term used in web development that signify the visual appearance of websites and web-based applications. Back-end languages deal with more complex issues behind the scenes of data storage and arrangement.

In general, high-level and front-end languages are easier to learn, while low-level and back-end languages are more complicated.

The 4 Best Coding Languages to Learn Initially

If you’re just starting out as a programmer, you might be searching for which programming language is easiest to learn. There are four high-level, front-end coding languages that will place you on the path to becoming a coding professional. Those are:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript
  • Processing

These not only help establish the programming fundamentals, but they also allow you to start creating hands-on right away. 

HTML: An In-Depth Look 

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it is the defining language of websites, web pages, and applications for the web. Those who learn this language can:

  • Publish content onto a website or web page, including text, images, tables, and more.
  • Design transactional content for a web page, such as building a reservation form for restaurants or a buyer’s funnel for ecommerce sites.
  • Arrange and rearrange a website’s content with ease.

HTML is one of the simplest markup languages, yet also one of the most powerful tools for coders—making it an ideal language to start with.

Benefits:

  • Easy to learn – One of the biggest turn-offs newcomers face is the “deep-end experience.” This is when coding schools decide to teach students the more complex languages initially and then expect them to “swim,” or keep up. HTML, on the other hand, offers students an accessible way to get their toes wet and dive into more languages at their own pace.
  • Great for all ages – HTML is intuitive and straightforward. Both young kids who want to explore the world of coding and adults on a new career path can utilize HTML’s functionality without having to decipher how a computer operates.
  • Instant creative ability – As soon as you have the basics down, you can then put your knowledge to the test and create a website or web page. Subsequently, every HTML skill you learn will instantly translate to your own creative projects.
  • HTML is free and supported by all browsers – Not all coding languages are easily applicable. Some languages are obscure and hyper-specific, requiring complex compilers and interpreters to run. HTML, on the other hand, is not only free, but it’s so essential to websites that all browsers support it. 

Challenges:

  • It’s often a programmer’s first language – Much like any worthwhile skill, the introduction is the most challenging. HTML is the perfect first language to learn as a beginner, but that doesn’t mean coding itself is easy! 
  • Limited in functionality – Though HTML is foundational to many other coding languages and web-based programs, its functionality is limited by its accessibility. HTML is best thought of as the skeleton language. It helps you build the bones and structure of what you want to work on. From there, other languages can breathe life into your skeleton, and flesh out all the different aspects. 

One of those other languages that bring color to HTML is CSS.

CSS: An In-Depth Look 

If you were building a house, HTML would be wooden boards, the concrete base, and the foundational structure. Meanwhile, CSS would be the paint job, the interior decoration, the family photos, and everything else that turns a house into a home.  

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s the coding language that web designers will use to control the look, feel, and overall aesthetic of a website or web page. So while your HTML code might provide you a checkout form to fill out on an e-commerce site, your CSS code reassures your customers that you’re not a weird scammy site.

With CSS, users can harness:

  • Color
  • Fonts
  • Layout design
  • Presentation (how a web page appears on a phone vs a computer browser)

Together with HTML, you’ll be able to create a functional, beautiful website.

Benefits:

  • Speeds up web pages – Everything you can control with CSS is also accessible through HTML. However, there are basic color and font changes that would take hundreds of pages of HTML text which CSS can complete in a few lines. As such, CSS greatly reduces the amount of code a browser has to load, speeding up web pages.
  • Increases hireability – If you are learning how to code with the goal of having a career in web development, CSS is a must-have skill in your skill set. HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (detailed below) are the three pillars of web development, and CSS is what draws in potential employers’ eyes.
  • Perfect for creatives – Artists, creatives, and anyone with an imagination (that includes you!) will fall in love with CSS for how much control it gives you over your web-based projects. If you’re a painter or graphic designer, for example, then you know the importance of color and negative space. CSS allows you to turn a black-and-white text document into inviting, engaging material. 

Challenges:

  • Requires initial code to work with – Due to its underlying structures, some programming professionals don’t consider CSS to be a legitimate “language” in its own right. One core reason? CSS’s purpose is to take markup languages (namely, HTML) and stylize them. That means when you’re practicing CSS, you need to build out initial code. This requires knowledge of multiple coding languages to get started.
  • Maintaining a certain look across multiple devices and browsers – Different browsers will read CSS code slightly different. When you’re trying to design a web-based application or web page across various mobile devices and web browsers, this can quickly get complicated. 

JavaScript: An In-Depth Look 

To continue the home-building analogy…

HTML built the house’s frame and structure and CSS stylized the house into a home. So, what does JavaScript do?

JavaScript turns on and off the gas for the stove. It provides Wi-Fi. It turns the water on in the bathroom for a hot shower (thank goodness—after building a home, a shower is much-needed!).

In essence, JavaScript provides functionality to web pages and web-based applications.

JavaScript users can:

  • Update dynamic content
  • Animate the images on a web page and the web page itself
  • Create responsive events

Benefits:

  • Improved functionality – Once you know a little JavaScript, you can quickly tell which websites use them and which ones don’t. Javascript creates interactive content, pulling users in to engage with the web page and improving the functionality of your website or web-based application.
  • Simple to create advanced code – Much of JavaScript’s functionality has been explored by other coders. This means if you want buttons that expand when a mouse hovers over them or for text to launch in from the sides when a user is scrolling, all you have to do is find the pre-made code and implement it.
  • Third pillar of web development – Akin to CSS and HTML, JavaScript is a language that’s highly desirable. By understanding these three pillars of web development, you can improve your job prospects quickly.

Challenges:

  • Limited browser support – Because JavaScript has a lot of interest behind it, it’s constantly updating—and so are the browsers who interact with it. Which means, if you have new JavaScript functionality in your code, older browsers might not support it.

Processing: An In-Depth Look 

Processing is a different kind of coding language that’s instrumental to visual arts. If you’re into media art projects or curious what coding language do most games use, Processing is a key component.

As the final piece to our home-building analogy: With HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, you can build a comfortable home worth living in. But if you’re an artist, you know “a functional home” is not enough. Processing is the trap door and swiveling bookcase; it’s the art installation in the living room that admonishes “oohs” and “aahs” from guests; and it’s the two-story treehouse in the backyard.

Essentially, it is the visually stunning aspect of a website or web-based application.

Benefits:

  • The tool for artists – While CSS allows those with a creative eye to turn bland code into aesthetically pleasing content, Processing is the extension of the actual paintbrush. It is a tool that artists can use to create media art and video game animations.
  • Easy to learn – Processing was built to be a gateway into more advanced coding. This means that the code involved is intuitive and simple—yet it creates powerful images and animations.

Challenges:

  • Less control than other basic languages – With simplicity often comes restrictions. Because Processing has only a few core inputs to know, it also provides coders less control. While artists might find this relieving, those with more coding experience, might find the lack of control frustrating.

Other Types of Coding Languages

Of course, there are countless other coding languages to learn after you’ve practiced the basics. Once you have these four language down, check out these other types of coding languages:

  • Python
  • C, C#, C++
  • PHP
  • PERL
  • Ruby
  • Swift

As mentioned above, every coding language has different usages and challenges. It’s all about practicing the languages you need. 

Why Does Disney Codeillusion Focus on These 4 Coding Languages?

By exploring these fundamental languages (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Processing), younger learners can grasp the roots of what makes coding such a fundamental skill. Additionally, adults who are pursuing a career in programming can quickly bolster their resume, and learn skills that are valuable to the job market.

With Disney Codeillusion, practicing these core fundamentals has never been easier, or more fun!

Designed as a role-playing game (RPG) and magical adventure, you’ll quickly be brought up to speed on these four coding languages and work on:

  • Web design
  • Game development
  • Digital media art

If you’re ready to challenge yourself and dive into the magical world of coding, there’s no better way than with Disney Codeillusion.

 

Sources:

W3. HTML & CSS. https://www.w3.org/standards/webdesign/htmlcss

Mozilla. What is JavaScript? https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Learn/JavaScript/First_steps/What_is_JavaScript