13May/20

Web development

Web development is a collective name that is used for everything that has to do with the realization of a website. This includes: web design, client-side and server-side programming and management of web servers.

Wysiwyg

HTML code is used to organize and format a web page (positioning of text parts and images, colors, fonts, etc.). Most developers prefer to write the HTML code themselves. This gives the developer more control over the result. In addition, an experienced programmer writes this code almost as fast as someone else builds the page in a wysiwyg editor.

Other programmers prefer not to write the code themselves, but leave it to a so-called wysiwyg editor. This compiles the page in a manner similar to creating a page in a word processor (such as LibreOffice Writer or Microsoft Word). The underlying code is automatically generated by the application. Well-known HTML wysiwy editors are Microsoft Expression Web, Microsoft SharePoint Designer and Adobe Dreamweaver. A common criticism of wysiwyg editors is that they encode unnecessarily complicated, which has two drawbacks: the code is barely readable by the developer, and it results in significantly larger files, which slows down page downloading for website visitors.

Many wysiwyg editors also have an option to view and edit the HTML code.

Static and dynamic websites

If you have one or more pages with a piece of text and possibly a few pictures, you can already speak of a website. You call such a website a static website because it does nothing but a static text and show any pictures. But as soon as you want a visitor to be able to register on your website (for example for a forum), or to have current information from third sources shown, it is necessary that the website can store its data in a database. Then you speak of a dynamic website. The content of the website is composed actively / dynamically with data from a database. To automate these actions, a programming language and code is used, which describes which actions the computer or server must perform. Programming languages ​​can be divided into two main groups: client-side and server-side languages. Static websites (during their interaction with the visitor) only use client-side program code, while dynamic websites also (can) use server-side languages. There are developments that blur this strict distinction, including the emergence of the JAM stack.

Client-side scripting

A client-side script is a script that is executed by the website visitor’s browser. Various scripting languages ​​are available for this, such as VBScript and JScript. Usually sites work with JavaScript because all browser types support JavaScript. For example, VBScript is only supported by Internet Explorer and not by Mozilla Firefox.

Client-side scripting is widely used in combination with DHTML (Dynamic HTML). This includes copying or hiding a text field if necessary, but also checking whether you have entered all the details in a registration form. On a well-thought-out website, you will never find security-critical functions to be executed by a client-side script.

Server-side scripting

Server-side script is a script that is not executed by the browser, but by the web server. It performs the actions described in the script, including, for example, calling a database, and uses it to compile an HTML file. This file is then sent to the client (the website visitor’s browser). Thus, the client never sees the server-side script, because it can contain crucial information, such as database passwords.

The most popular languages ​​for server-side scripting are ASP, ASP.NET and PHP. ASP.NET is the successor to ASP (Active Server Pages), both from Microsoft. Although ASP is still occasionally used by (especially smaller) companies, successor ASP.NET is the most popular of the two. Until 2008, larger IT companies in particular preferred this language, mainly because of its object-oriented features, which make it easier to build and maintain large complex systems. Since the introduction of PHP version 5, more and more large IT companies are switching to PHP because the new version focuses on object-oriented software and complex structures. PHP (PHP Hypertext Preprocessor) has been popular with amateurs and smaller web companies since stable version 3. This is mainly because the language has a fairly simple structure and is therefore relatively quick to learn. Other advantages of PHP are that these websites load very quickly due to the way the script is executed. The investment costs are also low because PHP is an open source project and can therefore be used for free. PHP can run very well on a PC or server under Windows, but is actually intended to be used in a LAMP configuration. That’s the combination of four open source projects: a Linux operating system with an Apache web server, a MySQL database and PHP scripting support.

In addition to the mentioned script languages, there are also less used languages, such as Perl, ColdFusion, Python and Ruby.

Content management systems

Ready-made content management systems (CMS) have become increasingly popular in recent years. In addition to various professional commercial systems, various open source systems are available such as XOOPS, Joomla, WordPress, TYPO3 and Drupal. This makes it possible to build an active website without having to write a single line of script. In these systems, a complete website can be configured on the basis of ready-made templates and all kinds of pre-filled settings. However, it takes a lot of time, energy and insight to become at home in such a system.