HTML is a programming language by the majority of accounts. It is a markup language and it ultimately gives declarative instructions to a computer. This is the definition of a computer program, making HTML a programming language.
HTML (or HyperText Markup Language) is one of the most popular web development languages around, and you probably encounter it every time you browse the internet. HTML is one of the first languages you learn in coding bootcamp, and it is essential to web applications, site design, and web pages.
However, there is an ongoing debate in the programming community as to where HTML fits into the definition of a programming language. The concept of a programming language has specific criteria, and many people believe that Hypertext Markup Language is not a programming language. Other people take a broader view and have no trouble defining it as a programming language. So, is HTML a programming language or not?
This article gives you the facts on the debate. In this guide, you will learn about the elements that combine to make a programming language and how HTML fits into the family of software development codes.
What Is a Programming Language?
Before you strike out on your own and jump into a web development bootcamp, it’s crucial to get the details on what exactly makes for a programming language. Knowing what programming languages make it easier to understand which languages may not meet the requirements. Much of the debate is a semantic one, of course—whether it qualifies for the formal definition of programming language or not, HTML sees massive use in sites all over the world. Labels matter, though, even in the computing world.
The accepted notion of a programming language is that it is a collection of instructions, commands, and syntax used to build software programs. There are low-level languages, which computers use without requiring translation. And, there are high-level languages that allow developers to write programs using a syntax similar to human language. High-level languages require translation so computers are able to understand the instructions.
HTML Is Declarative
When you start getting into arguments about whether HTML is a coding language, you often hear about imperative and declarative programming languages. If you’re new to the development community, this can seem a bit confusing, but a little explanation is all it takes to figure it out. To begin with, an imperative language instructs computers both what they need to do and how they should go about doing it. Meanwhile, declarative languages aren’t concerned with how the computer accomplishes its tasks, as long as the desired result makes it to the screen.
HTML is a declarative language and all of the instructions you provide when you use HTML follow that paradigm. When you use HTML, you tell the computer that you want to see visuals, but you leave it to the deployment package to determine exactly how it produces those visuals. Because you don’t have to focus on means when working with HTML, you eliminate a large part of your task. This feature makes HTML ideal for automation.
HTML Is a Markup Language
Now that we’ve established a few guidelines to help us determine what HTML isn’t, let’s look at what it is. To begin with, HTML is a markup language. Not only is it a markup language, but it is the most popular one in the world, with XML a close second. It’s even part of both languages’ names. Markup languages are ideal for new techies who might not have the chops to dig deep into computer code.
Markup languages employ tags to establish definitions for a document’s elements. These tags are readable by humans (a characteristic of a high-level language, if you recall), and they contain standard words instead of the sort of syntax you often see in programming languages. Tags allow users to define page sections and establish information on the elements within each section.
HTML Is Not Complete, But…
HTML’s failure to meet all the standards of a Turing-complete language disqualifies it as a programming language in some people’s eyes. However, using Turing completeness as the end-all criterion is problematic as many of the most popular coding languages use standard regular expressions—and this feature means that those languages don’t meet the Turing-complete standard, either.
Because of the above arguments, though pure HTML is a markup language that cannot change system states, many still consider it a programming language. It still provides instructions to the computer (a program), even if that program is not dynamic.
There you go, web-coding tech folks. The debate about whether HTML is a programming language has been going on for years and our guide helps to familiarize yourself with the issues. Wherever you land on the issue, there’s no argument that HTML is crucial for modern web development and is as essential to the Internet as any coding language.