Is HTML even coding?

Becoming a programmer: Diary entry #2

Image by Emily Morter, available on unsplash.com

The decision to become a coder (at the age of 32) is just the first in a forest of infinitely branching decision trees.

You’ll need to decide what you want to achieve through coding, which sector you want to work in, and relatedly, which languages you want to learn, among other choices. The good news is that many programming languages — from what I have understood so far — require a similar thought process. And so, while there are different languages to learn, the theoretical fundamentals are often the same or similar.

The above removes some of the fear and hesitation around choosing which path to take in the coding decision tree forest. There seems to be less path dependency than it would initially appear. The paths run quite close to each other and you can, with a bit of time and energy, hop between them.

The above accepted, you do still have to choose somewhere to start. More than this: you should stick with what you start for a little while until you build some proficiency so you feel confident and capable. If you run straight back out of the forest you might never go back in.

I started blindly reading around. I learned that Java and JavaScript are not related. I got a better idea of the difference between frontend and backend. I learned that some programming languages are more difficult to grasp than others. I then consulted a few forums and pages to understand which were considered to be the easiest coding languages to learn. Knowing I can be quite lazy and put off by a challenge, I figured I would go with the path of least resistance, at least to begin.

HTML is technically not a programming language. Technically, HTML is a markup language. More specifically it stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It essentially allows you to ‘markup’ (add little tags/labels to) content and to hyperlink between content. You use it to build documents that can be read, most often by a web browser. Yet, this caveat would often be followed by: “HTML is often a person’s first step when learning to program”. So, while HTML is not a programming language itself, it doesn’t mean it won’t lead you there.

This isn’t to say that HTML is a walk in the park. It’s very much a forest with a slight incline. Its dark in there and it takes a minute for your eyes to adjust and for things to start taking shape and become recognisable.

This said, very quickly you will be able to start creating web pages — simple web pages, but web pages none the less. More than this, almost immediately, you’ll be sign-posted to your second “code” language (CSS — which makes HTML pretty), with glimpses of the the first “real” code language on the horizon (JavaScript — which makes HTML functional/interactive, among other things) on the horizon (more on these in later entries). Quite rapidly you can see a little way down the front end web development pathway in the coding decision tree forest.

Overcoming a fear of public displays of writing (PDW) while teaching myself coding and hoping to make a career transition.

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