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Anita Olsen
Anita Olsen

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Is HTML a Programming Language?

I had just joined X after been learning Python syntax for a while from a code learning site and I kept coming over (I still do) some people there who claim that HTML is a programming language! That was a new one to me! What makes them say that?

Would you call HTML a programming language?

Top comments (94)

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ben profile image
Ben Halpern

In my opinion, absolutely yes.

It is not turing complete — but it is a specialized language for programming the most ubiquitous computer interface there is.

HTML is not very powerful if not used in conjunction with other programming languages which interface with other parts of an operating system, but all the work in HTML is programming if you ask me.

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manuchehr profile image
Manuchehr

Please don't say that! HTML is not a programming language. If we consider HTML is a programming language, then Markdown is programming language too?

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cmahte profile image
Michael H • Edited

Does Markdown have a {script} element? If it does, then ...

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manuchehr profile image
Manuchehr • Edited

So let's rename HTML -> HTPL (Hyper Text Programming Language lol)
The creators of HTML are much more wise than you.

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efpage profile image
Eckehard

Ok, but then we have to state that ASCII is a programming language too. With ASCII, you can tell the computer to do some lyrics, and we learned that anything that tells a computer do do something is a programming language. Ok, ASCII is not very powerful. It contains 256 commands and each can just prints out one character, no loops, no conditionals.

Finally, it comes out, Shakespere was a programmer. I really like the codes he wrote. You should definitively check out The Art of Code, which adds a lot of interesting aspects to this discussion.

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beastful profile image
beastful

I like your answer
Most people here just think that Imperative programming is the only way of writing a program )

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beastful profile image
beastful

Most arguments be like:
No loops
No if statement
Ml in HTML

It's just sad to read those comments

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abhilearnstocode profile image
Abhii

Short answer: No!

Long answer: HTML (short for Hyper Text Markup Language) is used to structure a webpage which is not same as programming a software. To program a software, we need to add logic to it and HTML does not have ability to add logic. To add logic to webpages we use a wonderful language JavaScript. So.... HTML is not a programming language.

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cdoubleutj profile image
Cdoubleutj

Depends on your definition of programming. I think programming is telling a computer what to do / how to do something.

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abhilearnstocode profile image
Abhii

I think programming is telling a computer what to do / how to do something.

Totally my point 😁 You cannot tell a computer to do something using HTML.

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cdoubleutj profile image
Cdoubleutj

That's not what i meant. I think writing html is telling the computer (to be exact the browser that runs on that computer) what layout the page has and what components should be rendered and also how those components should function (with tag attributes like min, max, step, type and so on). But i know that this debate will be never settled.

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abhilearnstocode profile image
Abhii

We clearly aren't on same page then. And I agree that this debate would never settle.

For the time being, let's agree HTML is not a programming language 🤝

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cdoubleutj profile image
Cdoubleutj

Let's just agree that if you think a programming language needs algorithms and logic then html is not a programming language. But if you think prorgamming is telling a computer what to do, then it is.

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beastful profile image
beastful

Exactly

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beastful profile image
beastful

Just read about declarative programming, the way we use HTML does not make it to loose it`s status of PL

No, logic in this case not required to call a language an programing language
The thing you described is imperative programming, where code consists of commands, statements and loops
And html is declarative and not turing complete (like SQL or XML)

The answer cant be so clear and straight, you need to dive deeper in the defenition of programming

(Btw Markup language is also can be Programming language)

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robertadler profile image
Robert Adler

No, HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is not a programming language. It is a markup language used for structuring content on the web. HTML provides a way to organize and display information through tags that define the structure of a document. While it enables the creation of web pages and interfaces, it lacks the capabilities of a programming language, such as variables, logic, and control flow. HTML focuses on presenting information rather than executing computational tasks, distinguishing it from languages like JavaScript or Python.

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beastful profile image
beastful

it does not mean that that it looses its status of programming language, html is just declarative, and not Turing complete.
Yes, Declarative programming is quite questioning term. But the key word is questioning not "clearly not a programming"

There are no special "exams" for programming langs, where they show what they can do, and based on this, get status of PL.

SQL is also a part of Declarative programming paradigm, its used only for queries (because its query language), but we still can call it programming

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cicirello profile image
Vincent A. Cicirello

Some dialects of SQL, such as PostgreSQL, are Turing complete, and thus very clearly programming.

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yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

Declarative programming doesn't mean 'can't express logic'. In SQL you can express 'show this or that based on some criteria calculated at runtime'. In HTML you can't.

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beastful profile image
beastful

What? I didnt say that in declarative programming you cant express logic
Yes, in SQL you can calculate values and use logic, in HTML - no
I absolutely agree with the statement, but how is it related to the main question?
There is no strict definition where programming language should contain logic and variables.

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yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

If you redefine a programming language to mean 'a language that doesn't need to allow expressing conditional logic', then you can say anything is a programming language. Emojis are a programming language because they instruct the computer to draw pictures.

The reality is that every programming language must have a way to express conditional logic based on criteria calculated at (its) runtime. This criterion classifies things like XSLT as programming languages (correctly) and HTML as not programming languages (also correctly).

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beastful profile image
beastful

I didn't redefined it, i told you that html can be a part of that paradigm (declarative programming).
Just show me the defentition (not interpretation, or a specific case) where there should be logic in programing languages.

Yes, html is so simple that you can compare it with emogi, but it still matches the declarative programming defenition.
I already wrote in anther comment that html's programmig language status is questioning.

"Questioning...."
And not - "Haha, no logic, so its not pl"

And please don't create defenitions yourself
You just made lots of mistakes

I will help you to understand what would be correct to say in this case, and what is not:

"html is programming language" - "Not yes! ", But we definitely can treat it like that, refering to "Declarative programming"

"html is NOT programming language" - so... prove it, find anything that classifies programming languages by logic, refer to some Wikipedia pages, and please don't use stupid "Emogi argument" or "Any other language argument"

There is "no" or "yes", don't try to give a clear answer, if you are not good anough in this topic.

No one here can't say this, even authors from Wikipedia can't give a clear answer, it usually goes like this: "...there are many arguments on the..."

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beastful profile image
beastful • Edited

Really, what do you mean by "In realty every programming language must have conditional logic"
Because its true only for imperative programming (or other like Functional, logical, oop etc.)
And html is just non-imperative, non-Turing complete, domain-specific markup language which fully corresponds to standards of declarative programming paradigm.
I would like to remind you that html is not just text styling, it tells computer and server to perform actions based on different kind of data:

  • cookie managements
  • page refresh
  • viewport management
  • http headers management
  • <noscript> element (some domain specific logic)
  • ability to redirect
  • sending http requests (forms)(yes, html can do http requests without js)
  • <map> and <area> elements (domain specific computation)
  • lots of meta tags which should configure the web page and browser look
  • loading management
  • under the hood, html represents DOM (document object model) and every element, for example h1 is not just big bold text hah, its an object, and it has its own properties, it can be accessed in scripts, and also it influences seo.
  • Even the fact that it has its own apis, like for example canvas, already tells that it deserves a status of declarative language

HTML is just too domain-specific, i would say too high level language.
I`m struggling to call it an programming language,
but your arguments are just funny, you have no right to define the status of html, but you can discuss it. Like me, did you even read my replies? I never say things like: "aaa, its absolutely clear, html is programming language, is programming language nether markup nor configurational its PROGRAMMING, i redefine the main definition of programing language, now it should not contain logic or conditions (btw it's required only for imperative programming style, really, read more about that) ahah what makes people to say that html is not programming language are they that stupid?"

i think there are no such words in my comments.

I can't prove that html is not PL
But i can prove that html is a part of Declarative style, and it's not my personal opinion it's fact
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperative_p...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declarative_...

P.S.
My conditions for continuing the discussion:

  • do not reinterpret my words, use quotes if necessary
  • do not create definitions yourself, refer to sources
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yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

And html is just non-imperative, non-Turing complete, domain-specific markup language

I'm glad we agree that it's a markup language. I.e. not a programming language.

do not create definitions yourself, refer to sources

Buddy, I didn't create the definition, computer science created it: engineering.cornell.edu/programmin...

Programming languages can be used to create programs that implement specific algorithms.

If you can't implement a specific algorithm with it, it's not a programming language.

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beastful profile image
beastful

No, you did not understand what am I talking about.

"If you can't implement a specific algorithm with it, it's not a programming language."
It only means that it's not Turing complete

I told you the defenition of html, but we did not agree with you, i told that html is a part of declararative programming paradigm.

The fact that you wrote: "I'm glad we agree that it's a markup language. I.e. not a programming language." makes me feel that you just ignore everything else in my comment

And the passage: "html is not programming language" isn't correct,
html is called markup language because it is used for murkup but.
But it also can be defined as declarative programming language

In you link, there were no mentions about the fact that html is not programming language

Progrogrsmming languages can be used.....
can be used....
... and also can't...
What algorithm, did he described
What types of programming are there?
It's not event a defenition

It looks like you didn't read my comment, I'm not surprised

Sereously, reread this, and then generate proper answer.

I will make your life easier, just prove these 3 things:

  • Every programming language should be Turing complete
  • Declarative programming is not programming
  • HTML is not declarative

Your arguments... They like arguments of any newbie in programming who found out what do last two letters in html mean, and now he knows the truth, the undisputed truth.

Reread... My... Comment

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yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

I'm not talking about Turing completeness here, I'm talking about basic logic. Calculate a boolean (binary) condition at runtime and show a different result depending on that logic. I cited a source, which you want to reinterpret to support your argument, that's fine. We disagree on it. By the way, I'm not attacking your knowledge level personally, I have no idea why you feel compelled to attack mine, especially when it only takes a few seconds to check my profile and post history on this site. Especially when you can't be bothered to learn basic spelling and grammar?

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beastful profile image
beastful

Why? I Don't reinterpret this, it's not even a defenition it's case specific introduction to an article.

I told you that logic and conditions are only required for imperative programming
By defenition, it's just fact

And html is non - imperative

It s written in those two articles, mentioned above

Just go deeper into these two terms.

Seriously, you did not read what I have written neither about html capabilities no about imperative and declarative programming styles.

We can discuss the status of html forever
Because the declarative programming is not always can be called "programming"

But

The statement "basic logic required for a programming language" is absolutely incorrect.
You need to stop use this argument
And read about declarative case specific programming styles, and may be you will be able to win an argument

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beastful profile image
beastful

It'd just unclear to me, why you can't just reply to what I really wrote.
Why you didn't mention imperative programming?
Why you didn't talk about html's features I described.

You just keep going like this: "basic logic should be in pl"
Please, you should understand that you tak about imperative programming.

You say that I redefine, reinterpret and etc.

But you really didn't my comments.
I never said that html is pl.
And I never said that it is.

I just tryna to say that your arguments not realy correct

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beastful profile image
beastful

In computer science, declarative programming is a programming paradigm—a style of building the structure and elements of computer programs—that expresses the logic of a computation without describing its control flow.

In computer science, control flow (or flow of control) is the order in which individual statements, instructions or function calls of an imperative program are executed or evaluated. The emphasis on explicit control flow distinguishes an imperative programming language from a declarative programming language.

Many languages that apply this style attempt to minimize or eliminate side effects by describing what the program must accomplish in terms of the problem domain, rather than describing how to accomplish it as a sequence of the programming language primitives2. This is in contrast with imperative programming, which implements algorithms in explicit steps.

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beastful profile image
beastful

Source: wikipedia
Btw, on Russian wiki there is a line which says that html is a part of declarative programming paradigm
"defenition of declarative programming"

P.S.
English is not my native language, so sorry for some spelling mistakes

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beastful profile image
beastful

I checked your posts, looks like you good at what you do. So, i have no idea why you write things like that:
"If you redefine a programming language to mean 'a language that doesn't need to allow expressing conditional logic', then you can say anything is a programming language. Emojis are a programming language because they instruct the computer to draw pictures.

The reality is that every programming language must have a way to express conditional logic based on criteria calculated at (its) runtime. This criterion classifies things like XSLT as programming languages (correctly) and HTML as not programming languages (also correctly)."

Now we don't talk about what html is. But abut what programming language actually is.
And the line: "...every programming language must have a way to express conditional logic based on criteria calculated at (its) runtime..." contradicts with the definition of declarative programming. Ans by the way, we cant call emoji a programming language because it does not have any control flow and it does not processes any data. Mean while html has (we just don't describe it) and also it has an ability to "process" data (i described it in one of my replies), this processing is just very domain specific.

For example regular expression is also can be called declarative "programming" language.
That is why:

  • we have an input (any string data)
  • it processes the string using different conditions (note, things you can do with string using regex are limited)
  • you get processed output

This pattern is also possible with html.

And also remember my position, i don't say that html is programming language, and i also don't say that html is not. I only say that it can be defined like this, based on ...(all my comments above)
i'm trying to stop people using wrong arguments, and being obsessed with their "precious" knowledge: "html is not pl, everyone knows it, what makes them to say the oposite "

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beastful profile image
beastful

Explain how i reinterpreted your sourse?
it says the following: "
A programming language is a formal language that specifies a set of instructions that can be used to produce various kinds of output. Programming languages generally consist of instructions for a computer. Programming languages can be used to create programs that implement specific algorithms.
"
It exactly what pl is and it doesn't contradict with what i say.
This term also covers my sources. But its still just an introduction.

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beastful profile image
beastful • Edited

"I'm glad we agree that it's a markup language. I.e. not a programming language." - it's one more thing you need to explain
That was not really polite from your side. You knew that i didn't mean it. I just gave one of html's definition.

So, was it an attempt to reinterpret my words?
(Notice how carefully i'm trying to define your actions, and everything else)

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yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin • Edited

I told you that logic and conditions are only required for imperative programming
By defenition, it's just fact

Actually no, that's not a fact. Every programming language that falls under the non-imperative paradigm also has features for expressing conditional logic at runtime. Here's an example of a fundamentally pure programming language: mathematics: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indicator_fu...

Look at how that function is defined with two 'if' conditions. In other words, it is checking at 'runtime' (under some implementation of a runtime, e.g. a human brain) whether a number x is an element of a set A or not. I think you will agree that mathematics is not imperative programming. And yet here you see that even in mathematics we need to have a way of expressing conditional logic.

These are the basic ingredients you need for programming in any paradigm–functions and conditional logic. If a language doesn't have those, it's not a programming language.

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beastful profile image
beastful

What do you mean by: "every non-imperative programming language also has features for expressing conditional logic"?

I gave you a defenition of both imperative and declarative programming, I discussed your Sourse.

Tell me is Wikipedia mistaking? Or I didn't find something in those defs?

Why you just say "every non-imperative..... alsa has ability to express a logic"

Where are proofs?
Describe the defenition of declarative of the declarative programming
And find a line where it should have conditions.

And also answer my arguments, I just described the abilities of html, that there ectualy is (very case specific) controll flow.

OK, agree with your math fact but it also does not contradict my statements

Look

In our discuss I described two things:
1 "abilities of html"

2 "the defenitions of DP"

In what ways 1st doesn't much the 2nd

Show me defenition where pl should have primitive logic.

For now you just throwing lines like:
"So I glad we agree that... "
"No that's not fact"
"that's only possible... "
"ur not right"
Etc.
It's a big disrespect
I think you should use something like that:
"this Defenition does not mach",
"I don't agree with...."

And also I don't argue with everything above but give me Sourse,
Sourse you gave before, is on my side

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beastful profile image
beastful

For anyone else who read this

**
I don't support any side
**

Never give strict polarized defenitions (yes | no), because it 80% will be not correct.

I have no point, I just asked the person above a leading question, and gave a defenition which contradicts his words.

Instead of describing why this defenition (fits, or is wrong), it's just: "you redefine... "

Now for our dialogue:

I give you this:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperative_p...

And find me any line which supports your arguments.

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beastful profile image
beastful

For everyone else who read this

"Programming languages can be used to create programs that implement specific algorithms."

It's just one of interpretations of pl:
engineering.cornell.edu/Programmin...

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beastful profile image
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beastful

And The thing I told about imperative programming is actually fact (answer to your disrespect)

I wrote this based on defs from wiki, copy them and show me the line where IT'S NOT A FACT, ALSO WHY DON'T YOU REPLY ON FACTS I GIVE YOU ABOUT HTML'S POSSIBILITEIS, AND THE FACT THAT IT'S "LOGIC" IS TOO HIGH LIVEL AND CASE-SPECIFIC, I EVEN DESCRIBED YOU WHY HTML IS NOT EMOGI, EVEN THOUGH I BROUGHT YOU DEFENITIONS WHERE NOTHING HAD BEEN SAID ABOUT RUNTIME AND CONDITIONS, INCLUDING YOUR SOURCE WHICH IS NOT EVEN AN ARTICLE

I CAN'T BE RIGHT IN THIS BECAUSE I HAVE NO POINT, I M TRYING TO SHOW YOU THAT YOUR ARGUMENTS SUCKS, IF YOU WANT TO PROVE THAT HTML IS NOT PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE STOP USING POLEMICS

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beastful profile image
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beastful

I'tired of the fact that we just promote the post of the girl who is promoted by speaking out controversial topics.
Contact me on tg: t.me/web3dot1

The result of our discussion we will publish here

 
yawaramin profile image
Yawar Amin

I gave you a computer science source–you language lawyer it to fit your own definitions. I gave you an example that directly contradicted your claims, using mathematics–you ignore it and ask for proofs. OK, then let's dig deeper into computer science, where programming languages are actually studied:

Foundations of Computer Science, Prof. Anil Madhavapeddy: cl.cam.ac.uk/teaching/2223/FoundsCS/

Lecture 1, 'Introduction to Programming', p. 7:

Programming in-the-small concerns the writing of code to do simple, clearly defined tasks. Programs provide expressions for describing mathematical formulae and so forth. This was the original contribution of FORTRAN, the FORmula TRANslator. Commands describe how control should flow from one part of the program to the next.

What they are calling 'commands' or 'control flow' is what I am referring to as conditional logic. But wait, there's more!

Concepts of Programming Languages, Prof. Robert Sebesta: ime.usp.br/~alvaroma/ucsp/proglang...

Chapter 2, 'Evolution of Major Programming Languages', p. 48:

John McCarthy of MIT took a summer position at the IBM Information Research Department in 1958. His goal for the summer was to investigate symbolic computations...

In other words, programming.

...and to develop a set of requirements for doing such computations.

In other words, he was studying–what are the fundamental requirements of programming languages.

As a pilot example problem area, he chose differentiation of algebraic expressions. From this study came a list of language requirements. Among them were the control flow methods of mathematical functions: recursion and conditional expressions.

In other words, conditional expressions i.e. conditional logic at runtime. John McCarthy, the creator of Lisp, the first and only computer programming language which humans consider is 'discovered' rather than 'invented', because it is so fundamental in computer science.

Look, no matter how strongly you might think otherwise–and how much bold and capitalized text you put in internet comments–programming languages have actually been studied and well understood for decades, and they have certain basic requirements. Which you will find repeatedly in any programming languages textbook. And HTML is not a programming language. This, of course, does not detract from its immense value. It's just not what it is.

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff

Well... This is an age old question. Being objective it's not, as the name states (hyper text markup language). But it's debatable if it is or not. I don't really care, and neither should anyone really. It does not matter what we call it, it does what it does quite well, and that's the important part.

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anitaolsen profile image
Anita Olsen • Edited

Ever since I learned C++ several years ago, I have been aware that HTML is not a programming language (I associate HTML with web pages), it is a markup language (it even says so in the name). Thank you for pointing that out. Despite this, I have not understood how anyone can call HTML a programming language, and I got very surprised when I first came over some who called it that on X. Has there always been someone who has claimed that HTML is a programming language or is it a more recent claim?

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nombrekeff profile image
Keff

I think it's as old as the language

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buarki profile image
buarki

2 cents: AFAIK HTML is not! it's just a markup language. We may say it is primarily focused on presentation and structure of content, but nothing far from that :)

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thomasbnt profile image
Thomas Bnt

I always learn HTML is a mark-up language, not a programming language 😄

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tn2023 profile image
tn2023

HTML is a computer language and not a programming language. Specifically it is a DSL (Domain Specific Language) and under that it is a markup language.

Programming languages are generally expected to be "turing complete" which is much well defined idea. However this is not a hard rule because some folks put SQL under the programming language category where some of its flavors are not turing complete.

Despite the ambiguity of the definition of the word "programming language" I do not think any one would mistake HTML for a programming language.

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stojkovicv profile image
Vuk Stojkovic

To answer you question with another one - is car painter an engineer?

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beastful profile image
beastful

Wrong example, absolutely wrong
html can be compared to profession where an engineer makes car using ready modules

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stojkovicv profile image
Vuk Stojkovic

Huh because mechanical engineers are not reengineering and improving existing, but only producing innovative engines?
My distiction just remindes what's in your focus as an programmer. It could be wrong because CSS is more focused on "painting" rather than HTML.
But HTML still remains just markup language, way to represent really functional mechanisms in a webpage. It's shame to compare browser's esstetical apprentice with computer programs that are manipulating memory etc. Therefore my distiction between ones who are focused on improving what's under the hood and how that looks.

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beastful profile image
beastful

Why are you focusing on impact in development and complexity of an lang to find out if it is a programming language? Yes, HTML is just for page construction, SQL is for querying data, you cant do much with that.
But what do you call *shame *? "Programing language" is not a privilege, baggage, or a honorary status, its about science and definitions.
And by definition the thing you described called "imperative programming"(it also can be referred to other paradigms such as OOP).
in a nutshell, Imperative programming is a common way of programming for most people here.
Following this paradigm, your code should consists of commands, loops, statements, procedures, and with this set you change your global state (manipulating variables), and then your give a result

Now, lets talk about Declarative programming
Declarative programing is a way of writing a program when you focus only on result, but not an algorithm.
More about it

Yes, declarative programming languages are not Turing complete, so some people are struggling to call it "programming"(also me)
But its still programming

So the most correct thing you can tell about HTML is that it is not imperative programming language

But ....

It can be treated like declarative programming language

(I know about last two letters in HTML (Markup language))

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stojkovicv profile image
Vuk Stojkovic • Edited

True, I accept this explanation, thanks for it. I think indeed lot of people have a struggle to accept HTML as a programming language, because that opens this type of discussion which is, nowadays, a bit obsolete. But still, that's correct.
Another problem is that one can not be called programmer knowing HTML only. It's not meant to be independent, I know but - back then, such thing was possible with SQL (there are indeed low code tools built around SQL where you basically can make an entire database application). Oracle also developed PL/SQL for more possibilities. You see where am I going with this? HTML is simply not powerful even if honored as the programming language - so in my example it's just a car painter :)

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darkwiiplayer profile image
𒎏Wii 🏳️‍⚧️

Really spicy take: It doesn't really matter. It's a fun question to be pedantic about, and I'll happily argue over whether it is one or not just for the lulz.

But most people seem to be arguing for all the wrong reasons, and this just shouldn't be a matter of "are HTML people worth less than C people or not", because they're both valuable skills; and the same applies for discussions about other languages like CSS.

And the elitist attitude of some people really just spoils the fun of the discussion for me, honestly.

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j471n profile image
Jatin Sharma

Nope.

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gregorygaines profile image
Gregory Gaines • Edited

The fact this is a conversation is frightning in a sense.

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nightdev profile image
Shviam

I would say that HTML is not a programming language because. it is a markup. It is also only possible to get full potential with CSS combined and both are different in the sense of syntaxes and code structure. and you can not make an entire webpag with it alone like with Python if you use Flask and other frameworks. so in short HTML is not a programming language but a side tool that helps in the process of making a website/webpage.

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kurealnum profile image
Oscar • Edited

I'd ask yourself if Markdown is a programming language. I'm aware that the features, capacities, and intended use cases are wildly different, but at the end of the day, Markdown and HTML are both "markup" languages, and thus HTML is not a programming language.

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vuvtdhh profile image
Vũ Văn • Edited

Perhaps if you understand the role of these languages, everything will be easier.

  • HTML: tells the browser what to display by marking elements with tags (url, paragraph,...) - so it's a markup language.
  • CSS: specifies how the HTML will look (color, width, height,...) - so it's a style sheet language.
  • JavaScript: interact with data and the 2 things above.
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moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Is a Word document a programming language?

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beastful profile image
beastful

Yes, it can be treated like that.
Word document has XML structure under the hood
And XML can be treated as a programming lang in a "Declarative programing" paradigm

xml - extendible markup lang
(I just dont want arguments like "it`s markup lang, just read the defenition")

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