Java, HTML, Python...It's All The Same, Isn't It?

Alan Gurney
By Alan Gurney
04 Aug at 13:25

What is a programming language? Amazingly, some people actually believe it’s a separate language that people learn to speak to computers! The point of this article is to clear the misconception of what a programming language is and to help you understand the differences between them.


Firstly, let’s start with the history of programming and how all the languages we know of today have come about.

The first computers, in the mid 90s, used very low level programming languages such as assembly code and autocode.These required a great deal of intellectual effort and were very prone to error as can be seen by the image above. Over time computer scientists have developed many languages which are much easier to understand and more accessible to the average person. As a result, today we have languages that are almost English-like and can be understood by someone who is not trained in coding. An example of this is the most popular language today, Python. Python is easy to understand, work with and learn. Programming can be defined as developing sets of instructions for computers to execute, this has become much less complicated over time.

In total there are probably hundreds maybe even thousands of programming languages.Take a look at just some of them. You may ask “why are there so many?” The reason is that each one was created for a specific purpose and each has pros and cons. They can all be categorised by generation. The generations range from one to five, one being the very early machine code which is represented in ones and zeros and five being the complex programmes used in artificial intelligence. The generations progressively increase in the range of tasks they can complete and also become easier to understand.

Programming languages can also be categorised by the type of language. This is a better way to divide the languages as it shows what each is used for. There are four main categories:

Web languages are used for creating and managing pages on the web. They can execute simple tasks such as entering text and also more complex ones like retrieving data from an online database.

Software languages are generally for making programmes that can be executed.The complexity of the algorithms vary in terms of what each is used it for.

Procedure programming is where there is a structured method of creating programmes. A problem is broken down into various sub-problems but these are all controlled by a main programme.

Object-oriented programming allows the programmer to define data types or classes and create relationships to link the programme together.

So now we know the information we can answer our question, are all programming languages the same? To that we can easily say NO. Each language has its own purpose and sets out to solve its own individual problem. For example, Python is an object-oriented programming language that is designed to be accessible and simple for all users, HTML is a web language and is used globally to define the structure of web pages by using various tags.

If you have found a certain type of language interesting why not register for our Web Design course and get coding!