html & css aren't programming (WAS: RE: [thelist] Your top timesaving tips?)

Wil Cone wil at
Fri Sep 19 01:22:53 CDT 2003

> > Needless to say, I think the black-and-white proclamation that 
> > html/css isn't (real) programming is an oversimplification 
> of a grey 
> > area...
> Considering that HTML and CSS lack the characteristics of 
> even simplistic 
> programming languages, I don't think it's much of a simplification...

This seems to me to be somewhat circular logic. To paraphrase: HTML/CSS
isn't programming because it lacks the characteristics of programming. 

I'm saying that HTML/CSS can be considered programming because it
conforms to the definition supplied: 

2 : to work out a sequence of operations to be performed by (a

My interpretation may be somewhat broad, but I stand by it. Java and
HTML differ to a great extent, but I think they can both be lumped under
the umbrella-term programming. Others may disagree. You may disagree. We
might also disagree as to what the definition of "is" is. :-)
> > The CSS dynamic pseudo-classes :hover, :active, and :focus 
> constitute 
> > a
> > (limited) sequence of operations to be performed by (a browser).
> Pseudo-classes may have a special meaning to the browser, but 
> defining them is no different than defining styles for any 
> other selector.

I'm not sure what your getting at...are you refuting my statement? I
don't see how a class definition has any bearing on its programming

> > Furthermore, I would argue that by defining visibility, placement, 
> > z-index, etc., you are in essence working out a sequence of 
> > (~one-time) operations to be performed by the browser...
> Again, these are merely style declarations.. This definition 
> would encompass Photoshop and Pagemaker; is that also programming?

I can program a GUI using Java or HTML/CSS - both are "merely" declaring
style (a visual appearance).

Although I would tend to say 'no, using Photoshop is not programming',
it is a good example of the fuzzy definition of programming. To
accomplish a task in Photoshop, you need to perform a sequence of
(~real-time) operations. I would be tempted to say that using Photoshop
was programming if you had to type in your Photoshop code/instructions
beforehand and then have Photoshop do its thing (as is the case with
html/css and web browsers).

> I think HTML and CSS fit comfortably under the heading of 
> "coding" which 
> covers traditional programming, markup, etc.

I agree.

- Wil

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