The Importance of HTML

Whenever I ask someone what programming languages they know, I get one of two answers: 1.) Some form of object oriented programming, or 2.) HTML. HTML, technically, is not a programming language. Because of this, it usually gets a bad rap, and not too many people want to learn it once they find out that they won’t be able to program their dream game in HTML. Although the field is changing with HTML5 coming onto the scene, many people still do not see the importance in learning the easy to understand language of HTML, no matter what your occupation.

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language, and it operates much like word processor, or more like word processors operate a lot like it. HTML is used to set up the web page for the rest of the languages to be put in it. A basic HTML document is nothing pretty, usually consisting of many left aligned headings and paragraphs, with a plain white background. Boring, right? This is what usually turns people off from HTML, because it gives the impression that HTML cannot do anything “cool.” This is simply not true.

Basic "Hello World" in HTML.

Basic “Hello World” in HTML.

Although HTML has no computing power, as in it cannot do any math, it still offers a lot of insight into how the website can operate. For example, if you are making a web page using a CMS, and having no prior experience in web design, then you can create a fairly nice website in an a few hour, complete with text and a pretty theme. However, if you know some HTML, you can have a site up in minutes, with all the knowledge of how the website functions and is structured. If something goes amiss with your CMS, you may be helpless, unless you realize that the problem is a misplaced image, or a wrongly placed <h1> tag.

Realizing the importance of this little language can unlock new possibilities for you as well. Before I learned HTML, I never though I would be able to understand or use a programming language effectively. HTML, in someways, gave confidence and a framework to learn more languages, starting with JavaScript, and moving into more advanced languages such a PHP and MySQL. HTML can teach the basic structure of programming as well with imports, structure, and indentation. Although these basics are also commonly taught in introductory classes, for someone learning on their own, these basic skills can be extremely useful for understanding the basics of programming.