Whenever I meet new students wanting to learn how to code, I ask a simple question “have you ever coded?”. The answer is usually “yes” but quickly followed with a “well…sort of”. Some say “yes, I used Microsoft PowerPoint” and others “yes, I did web page design using HTML” and then others say “I learned Java programming”. All very different but this is also the crux of the problem many schools, parents, teachers, and industries struggle. Right now, there is no clear standard for teaching coding in our schools.
I would like to explain web design and how it fits into the ‘coding’ world. The main reason is that web design can be a great way to engage anyone learning software development for the first time.
Here is a high level breakdown of the web page design steps….
- Web pages are text files. That means you can create a webpage using a simple text editor like Notepad that runs on every Windows based personal computer. Web pages are created using a language known as Hyper Text Markup Language or HTML which is viewed in a web browser such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Apple Safari to name the most popular. (Side note: there are tools out there such as Adobe Dreamweaver that aid in the development of web pages.)
- Pages are further designed with Cascading Style Sheets, or CSS, to make the look more stylish.
- We can then add graphics to present anything visual. Graphic files are typically one of three types. They are GIFs (graphic interchange format), JPEG (joint photographic experts group), or PNG (portable network graphics. (I will explain the differences in a later blog post).
- These files or web pages, are known as ‘static’. Static means they offer little in the way of interactivity or alot of data. For example, www.espn.com is a website made up of web pages. The web pages are filled with sports information. This information is data about players and teams. It changes hourly during a sports season. These are not ‘static’ pages. They are ‘dynamic’ pages.
- Once you create this file and save it as an .HTML file, you can preview it on your computer in your web browser or if you have a webhost such as Godaddy.com or Bluehost.com, you transfer the file using FTP (file transfer protocol) to the web server you use and then it can be viewed across the internet.
Ok, that is the fundamental process. 🙂
So is that coding?
Yes and no.
Yes, you are using a markup language, HTML, which requires cryptic coded syntax. Syntax are rules you follow when writing code. This process is tedious, requires knowledge and skill, and you have to design and plan. All these are hallmark characteristics of software developers.
But what HTML does not have is logic. HTML does not possess the ability to be intelligent. It is actually kind of dumb. There are no IF THIS HAPPENS, THEN DO THIS. Or IF value A is greater than B, do this. So that is where some developers turn their noses up to web design.
So what is final scoop, is web design coding?
In my opinion yes. Here is why…
Even though static website design may not have logic or intelligence like formal programming languages, it is forcing a developer to think logically as they create the webpages. It exposes them to the same concepts software developers using the more formal programming languages also use. Any chance you get to create or develop something on a computer will only make you a better developer no matter which path you follow as a ‘coder’.
Also realize that many applications being developed today run in web browsers. To do that development, you need to have an understanding of web design.
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