HTML vs CSS vs JavaScript: what is the difference?

Introduction

The world of web development is always in tandem with the beautiful functioning of the trio – HTML, CSS, and Javascript. They are the fundamental building blocks of web development, and each of them plays a distinct role in creating awesome web pages. The online world is rampant, and yet, stagnant with all kinds of web pages and websites. It is so difficult to make your website stand out from the rest until the web developer is clever and tries some new tricks up his sleeve. HTML, CSS, and Javascript are so important for the making of a website because –  they help each other, give structure to the website, and complement and augment each other’s capabilities and features. The power of your website or page will expound when you unleash the features of these three. 

You might have heard your web developer speaking about HTML, CSS, and Javascript in the same breath probably. But there are huge differences between them, and it is these differences that probably make them interact so well with each other. The three need each other for the full power of the webpage to be unleashed. It is Javascript that brings HTML to life, CSS makes HTML look stunning and aesthetic and HTML gives structure and shape to both JS and CSS when it is used on the webpage. In this article, we will explore the differences between the three, and why they are needed to do their special thing for websites. 

HTML – the markup language that marks up and forms the backbone of the website

HTML or Hypertext Markup Language is the backbone of the website and gives it structure so the web browser can understand. Almost every web developer worth his salt will have very good knowledge of HTML and know how to use this to gain control and flexibility of the website.

HTML syntax uses tags like <img>, <p>, <h1>, etc. to mark up the content and define it. It has similar tags for links, forms, and other aspects of the web page as well. The job of HTML is to tell the web browser how to display the content, but it will not handle the interactivity of the page or its styling. 

This is what a basic structure of HTML will be like:

<!DOCTYPE html>

<html>

  <head>

    <title>My Web Page</title>

  </head>

  <body>

    <h1>Hello, World!</h1>

    <p>This is my first web page.</p>

  </body>

</html>

The critical role of HTML is to bring order and structure to the page because, without it, the page will be a chaotic mess consisting of unformatted text, images, etc. 

Additionally, HTML follows a hierarchical structure known as DOM or Document Object Model. The model organises the elements with <html> tag being the root element. Within the html tag, are the <head> and <body> tags. The head tag will have the meta information (title of the page and links to external style sheets), and the body tag, of course, will have the content that the users see on the website. This is all organised in a tree-like structure.

CSS  – the beauty of the cascading style sheets

The role of CSS is to style HTML elements and decide how they will look on the website. It is all about the beauty of the website in terms of font, colours, spacing, layout, formatting, and other visual aspects, including very simple animations. While HTML is all about the basic structure, CSS is all about the skin of the website, and the aesthetics and it is what the user sees and navigates. 

CSS thus presents several styling options that can help transform the appearance of HTML and make the website unique and different from the rest. CSS is like the interior designer of the website, making it visually appealing, stylish, and attractive. 

Javascript – the most basic programming language that injects interactivity into the website

With Javascript, you can alter the behaviour of the different elements within the website, and add interactivity elements to make it appealing to the user. It makes the website dynamic and user-responsive. It is JS that updates the DM and enables the developers to make interactive user interfaces. This front-end development framework makes it possible for users to see the results of their actions like mouse clicks, mouse movement, keyboard inputs, etc. There are event listeners that will automatically execute a specific code in the case of an event. For example, if you want to change the background colour of a page when the correct button is clicked, the developer will have to work on it and ensure the specific function is triggered when the corresponding button is clicked. 

With Javascript, you can create a dynamic user experience that attracts, engages, and delights visitors. It helps you create interactive forms, where when users type something, it gives results and develops other features like drag-and-drop functionality, games, etc. 

Conclusion – The differences and comparison

So you see, all three have different roles and duties to perform on a website, and you need them all for the website to function optimally. As new technologies evolve, developers can integrate the full potential of all three to help build highly interactive applications that deliver dynamic web experiences.

So once you use HTML to create the building block of your website, you can use CSS to share and enhance them, to make the text, and font, more pleasant with different colours and other formatting elements. With the new features in CSS, you can make it unique, stylish, and professional. It is CSS that helps you adapt your website to the different kinds of screens and devices so the pages will render well on smartphones, desktops, tablets, and even smaller devices. Javascript could be slightly more complex than HTML or CSS, but you need it to have interactivity in the website and to make it functionally complex. 

JS makes the website personalised for the user, so when a person fills out a form and submits it, the page responds with a personalised message, even showing the user’s name. That’s what makes the website attractive to the user.

Interesting Links:

HTML, CSS, and JavaScript: Your Guide to Learning Fundamental Front-End Languages

HTML vs CSS vs JavaScript: A Beginner’s Guide to Web Development’s Power Trio

Pictures: Canva


The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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