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The Boilerplate Codes of the Internet

People use the Internet to visit websites every day.  Websites assist people with their education, work and entertainment. However, the average person doesn’t even know how webpages really work.  To develop a webpage, a basic structure needs to be built. Then, that structure needs to be styled, so that humans can easily navigate the information.  Coding languages such as JavaScript, Ruby, PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor), Python and many more are used to develop websites.  Out of the myriad of programming languages, HTML is one of the oldest and commonly used to this day.  Additionally, the language Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) is also used to develop websites but has a different purpose in terms of styling and operation.

The Boilerplate Codes of the Internet

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language 

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language.  Hypertext is a technical term for a web link. A Markup Language is a programming language that specifies the structure of text.  Markup Languages work by surrounding text with data that the computer can understand.  The computer can then interpret, process this information and execute it.  HTML can be executed and processed without the additional styling that CSS provides.  The minimum amount of code required to begin creating a webpage, with HTML alone, is called boilerplate code. Although some features of HTML can be used to define the presentation of text, CSS can add more detail, parameters and style to the basic, bare, yet crucial foundation that HTML is used to build.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets

What exactly does Cascading Style Sheets mean?  A cascading method, simply put, is the ability to apply multiple characteristics and changes in characteristics to a single object or a piece of code. Moreover, a style sheet language is a computer language that defines the style, presentation, and appearance of text.  CSS works by taking the code within an HTML file (or any other kind of markup language file) and applies styling to those HTML elements.  An HTML element is just another word for a finished sentence in the HTML code—something that tells the computer the way a piece of text should be structured on the web page.  Unlike HTML, CSS doesn’t really make up its own code, it edits other programming code.  For this reason, CSS cannot work by itself.  A CSS file needs another file to apply its styling towards.  

The Boilerplate Codes of the Internet

With all these differences between a language that depends on another and one that can operate independently, you may be wondering how they can both work in such harmony? After all, HTML and CSS have been used together since 1996.  Regardless of how contrasting CSS and HTML may be in terms of operations, purposes, and processes, they are still alike in some ways.  For example, although HTML can operate independently, a website created using only HTML wouldn’t be user-friendly or practical.  This is supported by the fact that CSS was created out of pure necessity by web developers who needed more options for formatting websites.  Therefore, as stated before, HTML and CSS need each other to operate practically.  Also, both HTML and CSS are used in front-end web development. This means that they are used to create the part of the web page that the user is going to see,  unlike back-end web development, which includes maintaining servers, databases and the like.

In summary, HTML is used to build the foundation and structure of a web page while CSS is used to specify the style, presentation and layout of data stored on that web page.  HTML can operate independently of CSS, whereas CSS has to have another type of file to apply its styling to.  However, a website created without CSS, or some other kind of stylesheet language, would not be as efficient or accessible as a website created with both a markup language and a stylesheet language combined.  In effect, HTML and CSS need each other in order to produce a practical result. 

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The Boilerplate Codes of the Internet
When people ask me what I like to do I say I'm a writer; both of code and of prose.