The Basics of Custom Website Programming
This is not a textbook but a few comments might be helpful for newcomers to custom web programming who don't know the lingo. Otherwise, if you know what you want, click on links to the right for our capabilities in the different types of programming languages used to develop on the web.
A web application is a computer program that is invoked in a browser such as Chrome or Firefox. Originally, browsers were designed to display the static text and pictures in an HTML document. The creation of a web program involves designers who are expert in HTML and programmers who can make the web site do something.
First Choose Web Experts to work with
A better title for this paragraph might be "Go Offshore and Choose Cambria Web Experts in the Philippines" because we can give you a hard to beat combination of offshore prices and the highest possible quality. Quality of service is important. A sloppy job will be hard to maintain in future and may be more expensive due to inexperience of the developers. Cambria's 33 years of delivering programming from the USA has taught us how expensive development is in the Silicon Valley where competition for programmers is intense. We began our move offshore to Manila in the Phlippines in 2007 in response to price pressure.
To our delight we quickly learned that we could deliver custom web applications from the Philipines in fewer hours and better in quality than we were ever able to do from the Bay Area or Phiadelphia where we had our offices for so many years. The reasons are explained here but basically it has to do with less competition for programmers and our ability to pay for the best talent available. And plenty is available. The Philippines is just behind the United Kingdom in English Speakers, has an American oriented culture, and a comprehensive education system. Our programmers are talented, well paid, and loyal to Cambria. So my advice is to look to our Manila office in the Philippines for your custom web application development services.
Next, use HTML to Design the Site
HTML1 documents are simply text documents with keywords, or "tags" in them to tell the browser how to display a portion of the document. For example
Simple in theory but complex in practice! If you want something better than from the 1990s it takes a trained "Web Design Expert" such as our Clariza, Apple in Manila, or Liz in the Silicon Valley, who have mastered the art of making all those tags to work together to do what you wish.
Next, put our Philippine Web Experts on the job
You might guess that HTML is a programming language of sorts, after all it gives the computer instructions, but we purists like to say it is a "markup" language useful purely for display. To create a "real" web program you need a programming language to mix in with the HTML code with its own type of tags. Within these special taqs we write the program that can interact with the HTML code by displaying it in different ways, by requesting data from the user, by interacting with a database and so on. This is where our programmers come in to work with our designers to create the perfect web program. A good example of one is www.b2byellowpages.com, one of Cambria's web programming clients.
Languages used for Custom Web Applications
More Terminology you May Encounter
CSS  (cascading style sheets) is an improvement to HTML that more easily allows for uniform presentation styles such as fonts, text size, color, etc throughout a multipage site. There are also Frameworks for the various languages to enable you to quickly code common functionality without re-inventing the wheel every time. A few examples of frameworks in use here at Cambria are MVC for our .Net programmers, Cakephp or codeigniter for PHP and so on. Finally, since most web programs end up storing or retrieving data from a database we need to mention SQL, for Structured Query Language, a programming language to manipulate the data. All will play a role in most web programs.
What language is best?
This question reminds me of my programming debut when I started Cambria in 1984 and wanted to pick a language. I was attracted to Turbo Pascal at the time but a veteran programmer who I admired used C. I kept annoying my friend over why he preferred C over Pascal and he finally said – "Look Dick, I use C because that is the language I know and I can do what I want with it. Why should I learn something else?" Good answer. Why indeed? They both do the job.
In other words there are few clear answers to the general question. For a maintenance project I would say stick and stay with what you have if it is doing the job. The old saying "its rotten but its written" is a wise one. This site is written in Classic ASP for example. It is regarded as obsolete these days but it did the job when we first upgraded our original HTML sites in the early 2000s so why change.
For a brand new project there are a few guidelines: Avoid an unsupported language like FoxPro, abandoned by Microsoft. Try to get an idea about the future of the specialty so you can find programmers in the future. But this is a guessing game and there are examples where specialties that seemed doomed to some, like Delphi, have survived simply because of their clear superiority in certain types of programs. I would say that if the specialty proposed is main stream then make your choice based on your judgment of the programmer rather than the language.
For web programming Perl, PHP and ASP.Net certainly fall in the main stream and Cambria has expertise and experience in them all. We also have plenty of experience, and current projects, in older technologies.
1 HTML stands for the rather grand sounding phrase Hypertext Markup Language. It is one of a class of "Markup Languages” that use symbols to explain how to present, describe, or instruct machines on how to read the text in question. XML is a well known example of a markup language or set of rules to encode a document so that it is machine readable.