HTML and CSS: Are They Programming Languages or Tools?

As humans, we love debating over semantics and things that ultimately don’t matter, unless you want to win a quiz or are taking a test, in this case, either in computer science or web development.

When talking about programming languages, we typically think of ones like Python, C, Java and many others. But, do we also think of HTML and CSS? Most of us don’t, and if someone does, something doesn’t really feel right about that, now does it?

Are they even programming languages and if not, what are they? Does it matter? Here is everything you should know about them as well as additional information that should clear things up.

What is HTML Anyway?

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language, which explains what HTML is, in name.

HyperText is basically text within text, which when combined with a markup language, allows you to describe web pages with ease and by using very little information, for a very good effect. HTML is currently at version 5 which is the same as the original HTML, but much faster, more efficient and can make more interactive web pages. 

HTML is used to create web page content. You add code and tags and the browser reads that and puts stuff where you said they should be. But, HTML doesn’t really do enough on its own and the pages tend to look boring.

What is CSS?

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets and is style sheet language which is used to describe the presentation of a document, in our case and most cases, written in HTML. It was created to help make sense of HTML and to help make it look decent. CSS takes what is written in HTML and gives it slickness, things like shadows, borders, layout, styling and more.

CSS is a completely different language than HTML and has a different purpose. While one builds a page, the other one reads the information and adds decor to it. CSS can get complicated really quickly, if you don’t know what you’re doing or if the front-end developer made mistakes when building the site.

Are They Programming Languages?

Well, yes and no. No, because you cannot use them in the same way that you could use a language such as PHP, not to mention C. With C, you can write applications, kernels, control embedded systems and any other system, build game engines and even web pages, though that would be a pain. With HTML and CSS, you can make web pages and that is all that they can do. 

Clearly, HTML is a markup language, while CSS is a style sheet language, neither of which falls under the category of programming, while they are often grouped that way.

Does Their Categorization Matter?

Yes and no. It matters because you need to understand what they can and cannot do and why. Understanding that also means understanding how programming or rather, how computers work. That is a key part of growing as a programmer.

On another hand, it doesn’t matter if it gets you into coding in general. From learning HTML and CSS, people have gone to low level programming, assembly language and stuff that most people don’t dare touch.

HTML and CSS aren’t programming languages, but they are languages and the founding pillars of the world wide web, alongside JavaScript.

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