Today we are going to take a look at the different web programming languages ââthat power the Internet. This is the fourth part in a series of programming for beginners. In the first part, we learned the basics of variables and data types. In part 2, we moved on to functions and control structures. In Part 3, we looked at some of the many software programming languages. Like last time around, I’ve included screenshots of what the typical code for the language looks like, which I think is a good at-a-glance indicator of how comfortable you’ll be. to program it or not.
PHP is the undisputed king of server-side languages ââin use on the Internet today – running on 75% of all web servers – and is the power behind WordPress, Wikipedia, and even the user part of Facebook.
As a server-side language, the code is processed before it reaches the user’s browser, so all it sees is the last page and nothing of the original PHP code. PHP is mainly used in conjunction with MySQL to extract information from a database, manipulate it, and present it to the user.
PHP is for general purpose and comes standard with most web servers – if you’ve heard the term MAMP / WAMP / LAMP before, the P usually means PHP (the rest is Windows / Mac / Linux, Apache and MySQL).
Another component of standard web server installations, MySQL is a free open source database server. It’s not a programming language as such, but it’s a new language to learn if you want to talk to databases, so it’s a key part of modern websites. Although MySQL is actually a command line language, there are some common GUI tools like PHPMyAdmin to more easily manage databases.
Again, MySQL is what powers WordPress – so all of your posts and content are actually stored in a MySQL database.
Perl was once a major force in web programming, but has since been relegated primarily to word processing applications. It’s incredibly fast at processing text, but not very useful on the modern Internet. This is something all hackers have in the cheat box, so it’s worth checking out at some point.
To give you an idea of ââthe power of Perl, here is the complete code that was created to break DVD encryption. Yes, it’s rather cryptic:
Ruby and its Ruby On Rails web application framework power some pretty big websites like Groupon, Shopify (a commerce platform), and the Twitter front-end. It’s a fully object-oriented language that is interpreted by the server and then sent as a finished HTML page to the browser – much like PHP (but also completely different, * sigh *). It does, however, have a number of key advantages, namely fast development, less code repetition, and speed.
Unfortunately, most web servers don’t support Ruby out of the box, so unless you can set up your own server the way you want, you need to use a hosting service like Heroku.
Python is another fully object-oriented high-level strongly typed language. Adjectives used to describe Python generally include amusing, easy to use, and one good learning tool – but ultimately there are very few real world Python web applications. This certainly seems like a good place to start, especially if you are the type of person who enjoys Linux and open source / community projects. Don’t expect to create real webpages with this, and there seems to be a rivalry with the Ruby community.
This is Microsoft’s contribution to the arena of web languages, which is predictably popular in corporate environments and nowhere else. It’s tightly integrated with the .Net family and you need specific Windows hosting to run ASP.net web applications, which in my experience is a lot more effort than it is worth. worth it. Stay away from this one unless you have a really good reason not to.
So what should you learn?
If you think I missed something, then comments and reader contributions are always welcome in the comments.
Need a lightweight operating system? These special Linux distributions can run on older PCs, some with as little as 100MB of RAM.
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