If you’re interested in becoming a web programmer, a vital consideration is obviously which programming language to learn. Websites today aren’t usually constructed using just one language and you’ll find it’s necessary to be versed in a number of programming languages to really make a splash in the industry.
By taking a look over some of the Internet’s most popular sites of recent years, you can see just how varied the scope really is. Many of the top sites of today use a combination of languages, which if anything points out that they are limitations present in all of them, and that some languages are better suited to particular functions than others.
Popular Website Programming Languages
The following list shows a list of some popular sites and which programming languages are, or have been, present through their development. Popularity should be a consideration in viewing where to start, not necessarily because it’s the best language, but languages with a higher user base such as PHP also have a far more comprehensive support network.
For reference, it’s estimates that PHP is the main programming language in up to 80% of the programmed websites around today.
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How Do I Know Which Programming Language a Site Uses?
There are a few indicators present if you view the site’s markup that may help, but clues can also be gained from just a quick look at the URL or other factors, such as:
File Extensions – Seeing a .php in the URL’s file extensions indicates that the site (well, the page you are on) is written in PHP. Similarly .asp indicates a classic ASP back end, .aspx indicates the use of ASP.NET, .jsp shows the use of Java JSPs, and so on. Remember though, it’s also easy to mask these – through mod-rewrites for example.
Cookies – You can also look at your cookies. For instance, JSESSIONID in a cookie is a frequently adapted cookie name on Java servers.
Markup Indicators – Frequent patterns such as the abundance of div wrappers with a consistent class naming scheme are used by CMS’s such as WordPress or Drupal. You’ll also find hints to the file structure from looking at links to common files such as CSS style sheets will help – for example, anything with /wp-content/ in the file structure tells you that you’re likely looking at a WordPress site.
HTML Comments – From time to time, developers will leave clues via comments in the HTML or through the site’s meta tags.
Error Messages – Standard error messages (if they haven’t been modified or redirected) may also tell you which language is present. Try adding a fake URL to ping a 404 and see what happens.
Being a web developer isn’t about knowing ONE thing, it’s about learning. Be flexible and don’t be closed off to the wide array of languages out there. Obviously you can’t know them all, but being able to get by in many of them will keep you busy and employable for many years to come.
For example, my skillset includes the following languages and systems to name but a few:
Sound like overkill? My clients wouldn’t agree with you. Good luck on your quest to becoming the best programmer you can be.