How Coding Works
There is not exactly just one way that coding works, since there are so many different coding languages and platforms and purposes. Typically, the code resides either on your local computer or handheld device, or on a remote computer called a server. Usually servers are used to *serve* web pages to a web browser.
Most common are Unix and Windows servers. Windows servers are far less popular, so we won’t really be focusing on them here for now. Unix is a very old operating system, but continues to power most of the world’s servers and even powers Apple computers today behind the scenes. So if you learn some Unix and don’t have access to a server, you can even mess around with it on your Mac.
As mentioned, when we talk about servers, usually they are serving web pages to remote web browsers. In other words, when you dial up a website in your browser, there is a server out there that your browser connects with and that server sends information to your web browser which tells it what to do and how to render the web page for you to view.
Most often this is done using html or php. Perl is also still commonly used, but not nearly as common as php.
Html is actually the language that your browser knows. It doesn’t know the other languages like php or Perl, so with languages like those, the server has to do a bit of extra work and process the php or Perl code which ultimately then sends html to your browser. If you code in html, that code just gets sent straight to your browser – the server doesn’t have to process it at all – it just sends it on its way.
CodingForBeginners.com is coded in php, so when you type in www.codingforbeginners.com in your web browser, a lot goes on behind the scenes before html is sent to your browser. Depending on the page you surf to, the server reads the appropriate file and runs php to interpret the code in that file. On the server, the file is something like “mainpage.php” – see the .php? That tells the server that it will need to process the file with php. If it’s an html file, it will typically look like mainpage.html instead, and the server will then know that it doesn’t have to do anything other than just send the contents of that file straight to your browser.
As such, this means that languages like php and Perl, which are called “server side” languages, take a bit more processing power and thus take a bit more time to load in a browser than html.
We’ll delve more into all of these things on our more detailed topic pages.
Here are some of the more popular coding languages we’ll be taking a look at –
- Unix shell coding – bash, ksh, etc.
- App coding languages
- Visual Basic
- Excel Visual Basic