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What is Web Development?

Web development refers to a wide range of activities from setting up simple websites to building complex web applications.

Web development may include:

  • Front-end website and app design
  • Server-side scripting
  • The creation of new tools or libraries
  • Coding plugins for existing applications
  • Designing themes and templates for content management systems

How to Use This Page

This page is an index to web development related hosting features that we track with our comparison tool.

Need a host that supports your favorite development framework, or just curious to learn more about what a development framework is? We've got you covered.

Browse this page to learn about some of the common terms you'll run into when shopping for a web host or scroll to the bottom to narrow your search by category.

Web Development Languages

This page contains information about a number of web development languages.

These are categorized into two types:

  • Client-Side languages
  • Server-Side languages.

client-side languages

Client-Side Languages

Client-side languages are sent in a plain-text form to web browsers, which interpret them for displaying content to the end-user of a website.

Examples of client-side languages are as follows:

  1. HTML
  2. CSS
  3. JavaScript
  4. Ajax
  5. Any other client device language that interacts with a remote service

Now, we will take a closer look at three of the most popular client-side languages.

HTML — Hypertext Markup Language

This is not a programming language but is rather a markup language. It is used to create documents for the web which contain the content of a page, as well as details (the "markup") which tell a browser how the parts of the document relate to each other.

CSS — Cascading Style Sheets

This is also not a programming language but is rather a way of providing display instructions to a web browser about how the content of an HTML document should be displayed, including fonts, colors, placement of elements on the screen, and sizes.


This is a programming language used to provide in-browser dynamic functionality.

Javascript is interpreted directly by the browser, and script code has access to all parts of an actively-displayed website. (Javascript can also be used server-side.)

Note: all web hosts support HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

server-side languages

Server-Side Languages

Server-side languages are programming languages that are used to build web applications which run on the server.

What is a Server?

A server is a computer that hosts the website, as opposed to the computer of the person visiting it.

Almost any programming language programming language (C#, Objective-C, etc.) can be used to build server-side applications, but a handful of specific languages have come to be especially popular for doing so.

Some of them were designed for the web (PHP, ASP), others began as general-purpose languages but have been extended with a standardized set of tools for web development.

Here are some examples of server-side programming languages:

ASP — Active Server Pages

ASP was an early attempt to provide dynamic scripting functionality into HTML documents.

In some ways, it was a precursor to PHP. It has since been succeeded by ASP.NET.


Java is a mature general-purpose language used for desktop, web, and embedded applications on a wide variety of platforms.

Has been used as a client-side scripting language, but this requires a browser plugin, so it is no longer common.

Its server-side usage has largely been replaced by the similarly named, but otherwise unrelated, JavaScript.


Perl is a general-purpose development language, and it is particularly popular with hip Comp Sci geeks.

PHP — PHP Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP is the most popular server-side scripting language in the world.

PHP is behind the most popular content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, and Mediawiki.


Python is a popular general purpose language, it is popular for shell scripting.

It's popular for the development of automated testing frameworks, internal corporate proprietary tools, scientific applications (such as geospatial, or GIS, programming) and business applications using big data.


Ruby is a very popular, elegantly constructed language with a devoted user base.

Can be used on its own as a general purpose language for desktop applications or shell-scripting.

For web use, it is usually used in the context of the Ruby on Rails application framework.

Essential Tools and Frameworks

In addition to covering some standard languages above, let's take a look at some key, relevant tools along with their functionalities.

Tool Names Function
Dreamweaver, Kompozer These are used for designing and developing websites.
Subversion, Git These are used as version control tools.
Laravel, Zend These are popular web development frameworks.

What is a Framework?

Frameworks provide a basic application template, upon which a developer can flesh out the specific features needed to meet a business need, without needing to reinvent the wheel for common features like logins and user management.

There are a number of popular frameworks available right now. Some of the most popular frameworks include:

What is Version Control?

Version Control systems are indispensable to a well-functioning development team.

They keep track of the state of a code base at every point in time, log who changed what and when it was changed (and, hopefully, why), and allow code to be reverted to its state at a previous point in time.

Popular Version Control Tools

There are a number of popular version control tools available right now. These tools include Subversion and Git.

Web Development Tools

Knowing how to code is the first step to becoming a good developer.

The next step is knowing what tools to use.

Popular Web Development Tools

There are a number of popular development tools available right now. These tools include DreamWeaver and Kompozer.

Also see: Databases, SaaS, Hadoop

Web Hosting for Developers

While a basic shared web hosting plan will accommodate the majority of webmasters — a VPS or dedicated server is the best option for serious and picky web developers.