In college, I took one course in HTML, and sweated my way through the absolute basics (I had never even opened a plain text file before starting the class, and had definitely never heard of a “div.”) This week, I reintroduced myself to HTML, and was surprisingly delighted by how much I remembered, considering my general stress and feelings of inadequacy in that years-ago class.
For newcomers to coding, I’d highly recommend using HTML as a starting point, despite everything I just said about fretting my way through Intro to Web Development.
The trial-and-error of learning is different in HTML (hyper text markup language) and CSS (cascading style sheets) than other languages, because instead of getting a scary error message (like I would when improperly writing a function in Ruby), I’m opening my code in an actual webpage and checking out how it looks. The diagnosis is usually, “that looks like crap,” or “hey, that looks pretty good,” or “that looks alright, but I can probably make it better.” And by the way, no matter how bad everything looks, it’s still a very cool feeling, seeing my work displayed on the regal stage of a Firefox browser window.
Another beginner-friendly aspect, is that you can make quite a bit, knowing very little HTML. Here’s a page I made in about five minutes with some light Googling:
Here’s the code I typed into an HTML file:
Starting with header tags (I used <h1> in the first line of code), paragraph tags (see the <p> in the second line), and–if you want to get fancy, some links or images (I inserted the rocks photo with the code in the third line), you can get pretty far in jazzing up a web page. Codecademy is a great place to pick up enough basics to get started.
I remember at the end of my Intro to Web Development course feeling a little boxed-in by HTML and CSS. While it makes a web page look nice, it can’t really do anything. That’s where other languages come in. Now, after pushing myself to learn languages such as Ruby, it’s oddly comforting returning to HTML.