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Understanding developer's language (Part 1)

It is often hard for an executive to communicate effectively with software developers. These hardcore introverts tend to fall back to a tech jargon, hardly intelligible for a normal person. In this mini-series I will try to fill the gap and provide a high-level overview of most common software problems. These articles will provide a great conversation starter for a manager new to software development. Or so I hope.

The basics: HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AJAX

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. It is considered an oldest web technology and knowledge about it will not earn you any brownie points. But if you are feeling really competitive you can dig a bit into HTML5 - a new HTML standard, widely adopted back in 2012. I bet even your most decorated programmers will have some gaps in HTML5 knowledge.

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. If HTML defines web page's rigid structure, CSS makes it beautiful. While it is possible to do some of the beautification directly in HTML it proved difficult to manage on a larger projects. So one of the first applications of Separation of Concern in the web was introduced - a separate document to contain all the look and feel details of the website. One of the most useful CSS3 additions for me personally was ability to render animations with it. In many cases one can avoid writing complex javascript code in order to fly around a planet:

JavaScript - Finally a programming language. Do not ever confuse JavaScript and Java. Those are two different languages and programmers are absolutely mental about it. Javascript allows for dynamic functionality on the web. Remember that big Web2.0 technobabble back in 2000s? That was to a large margin about a rapid adoption and advancement of JavaScript technology.

AJAX is a biggie. It stands for Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. And XML, oddly enough, is a more general name if HTML. So AJAX is an idea. It says that you do not need to reload the page every time you need an update from the remote server. If you have a JavaScript that can modify HTML and CSS on the fly - you can have a truly dynamic application. It goes like this: you prepare an HTML page and a little JavaScript code on it. The JavaScript code waits for a trigger, perhaps a click from user, and send a request to the server in background. Asynchronously from page loading. Once Server processed the request JavaScript code receives the reply from the server and alters HTML, again asynchronously from page loading, to show new information.

Let me know if this is useful in comments below. And maybe throw in some ideas for future topics.


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