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Selecting the Best Web Design Language for Your Project
HTML isn't the only choice for web page creation. Which language should you use?
If you'd like to create and publish your own web site on the Internet, your first step should be to decide what type of web site you would like to create and what web design language you would like to use.
Although there are several web design languages to choose from, make sure you take some time to research your options to ensure you're making the best choice for your project.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)The easiest and most popular web design language is Hypertext Markup Language, better known as HTML. This language is so simple you can type the syntax into a text editor, such as Notepad, save it with an .html extension and instantly have a web page.
You can learn more about HTML here: http://www.w3schools.com/html/ Although HTML will enable you to create simple web sites, if you want something more dynamic, you'll need to look into using other languages:
PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP)PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, better known as PHP, is a highly popular, server-side scripting language that can be embedded directly into HTML coding.
PHP can do anything that CGI (Common Gateway Interface) can do, such as process form data and auto generate dynamic content. However, PHP can do much more. It can be used on all major operating systems and supports most web servers.
PHP's main focus is development for the web, so it has a quick development time and can solve scenarios much quicker than some of the other web design languages.
You can learn more about PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor here: http://www.php.net/
ColdFusionColdFusion, developed by Macromedia, is used to build and serve web pages. It consists of ColdFusion Studio, which is used to create web pages, and ColdFusion Server, which is used to display the web pages.
One of the best features of ColdFusion is the ability to create web pages 'on the fly' from content stored within a database.
For example, a variety of content can be placed within a database as 'pieces of content.' When a user types in the web address to retrieve the web page, ColdFusion dynamically develops the pages, from the 'pieces of content,' as they are served.
Although it is very reliable, ColdFusion may be better suited for larger companies rather than individuals, as it is fairly expensive.
You can learn more about ColdFusion here: http://macromedia.com/support/coldfusion/tutorial_index.html
Java Server Pages (JSP)Java Server Pages, also known as JSP, is a web design language developed by Sun Microsystems. It is used to control web page content via servlets, which are little programs that run on a web server. These servlets modify the web page on the server prior to it being displayed within a web browser.
The JSP technology enables you to combine regular, static HTML with dynamically generated HTML.
You can learn more about Java Server Pages here: http://java.sun.com/products/jsp/docs.html
Active Server Pages (ASP)Active Server Pages, also known as ASP, is Microsoft's solution to dynamic, interactive web pages.
Active Server Pages are web pages that contain scripts in addition to the standard HTML tags. These scripts are processed prior to a web page being displayed within a web browser.
Unlike standard HTML pages that have an .html or .htm extension, Active Server Pages have an .asp extension.
An advantage of ASP is that it is language-independent and therefore is easy to use across all platforms and applications. It is very flexible and powerful, yet some people don't like it merely because it is a Microsoft product.
You can learn more about Active Server Pages here: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/en-us/dnasp/html/asptutorial.asp
ConclusionWith so many different web design languages to choose from, which is the best language for your project? That will depend on your web site needs and how much time and/or money you're willing to invest.
If you want a simple web site with text and images, HTML is definitely the way to go. Not only is it easy to learn, but there are also many HTML editors available online that will write the code for you.
Although HTML is usually the right choice for most, if you'd like your web site to be dynamic, you will need to research some of the other languages until you find the best solution for your project.
Take your time and do your homework before you begin. If you don't feel confident in your ability to create your own web site, hire a professional. It will save you a lot of time and trouble in the long run.
Copyright © Shelley Lowery 2005
Shelley Lowery is the author of the highly acclaimed ebook series, Web Design Mastery -- An eight volume (500+ pages) in-depth guide to professional web design. Web Design Mastery is being hailed as the "Bible" for professional web design.
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