Which is your favourite programming language? Take the DE survey and be the judge of which language will sit on the throne.
14% said they also use ActionScript, which can also come wrapped in HTML, but 12% of those primarily using HTML said they also program in C/C++, which is a combination we’re unlikely to see in the same project.
HTML was never designed as a programming language – the original 18 tags permitted the most-basic of layout options. The only interesting tag was the hyperlink itself; the revolutionary concept that created the web as we now know it, the rest are trivial. HTML was based, loosely, on SGML, which is another bastard offspring of XML – the eXtensible Markup Language – but the key word across these is “markup”: all three are intended to provide syntactical data to accompany textual information*, not applications as we know them.
But HTML has come a very long way since then, and has capabilities we would normally associate with a development language. Drag and Drop, Geolocation, and Local Storage, are blurring the line between applications and web sites, allowing cross-platform development where the only way to spot the difference is the title bar at the top of the window (and sometimes not even then), and there are a host of applications which bear testament to the fact that HTML can be used to create real applications.
Zero Lines JS is a fine example. A graphical game, requiring the player to navigate their ship between approaching enemies at increasing speed to a suitably-irritating soundtrack. It might not be the next Watch Dogs, or even the next Candy Crush Saga, but it would be hard to deny that it is a real application and one which (as the name infers) is written entirely in HTML with a few Cascading Style Sheets (CSS).
Meanwhile those versed in Assembler look down from their ivory towers, stroke their beards, and concur that when performance really matters they will always get the gig.
But despite being at the bottom of the heap we can see that HTML5 is being used to create applications, and it must therefore be considered a programming language. We might argue whether validating a filled-out form constitutes an application, but when you can crash a spaceship into an oncoming armada then there’s little room for discussion.
At Vision Mobile we’re currently updating our survey, asking developers what language and tools they’re now using, including those who choose to program in HTML. It will be interesting to see if an increasing number think that the layout tool has evolved, or if a momentary fad is passing. Take a look at the survey, and use the feedback from at the end to let us know how you feel about HTML being included in the list of languages, and what you think might end up on that list next time.
* To be accurate, XML is intended to be a framework from which one can derive markup languages, but that’s not really pertinent here.
The Developer Economics survey is now Live.
Have your say in which should be the next most popular programming language and you may win amazing prizes and gear. Discover more.