JavaScript vs HTML. Understand the difference


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HTML is a markup language used to represent the structure and the content of a web page. Javascript is a client-side scripting language that is executed by the browser to manipulate the website. Over the years there was a lot of advancement in HTML. However, Javascript is still required to make a website dynamic.

In this article, we are going to cover the basics of both HTML and javascript and provide a head to head comparison (Javascript vs HTML), and cover the key differences between the two.

What is HTML?

HTML stands for Hypertext markup language and it is used to format and organize a web page’s user interface. HTML also helps the user of a website to navigate to different pages in the same website or link websites together. HTML makes use of tags to structure a webpage. It is important to understand that HTML is not a programming language therefore to make buttons work you need to use a programming language like JavaScript. 

First version of HTML was HTML 1.0 officially released in 1993 by Sir Timothy John Berners-Lee, an English computer scientist who is known to be the mastermind of the World Wide Web and the creator of HTML. Berners-Lee now leads the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) which is an international standard organization for the world wide web. 

HTML 1 was not very popular as not many developers were into developing websites at that time. However soon after in 1995 HTML 2 was released. The same structure with tags introduced in HTML 1.0 was also kept in this version and more tags were added such as <Meta>. Support for forms was also added in this version. 

The introduction of tables, mathematical equations, and fill-out forms like radio buttons, textfield and checkboxes was possible with the release of HTML 3 in January 1997. Also in HTML 3.0 the support of stylesheets via a link was possible and some multimedia features were also available. 

After a few months in 1997 HTML 4 was released. Many other features like multimedia, support for frames and more printing options were made possible. Many more tags were introduced in HTML 4.0.1. This version was a successful version of HTML and it  took years before another major version of HTML was released in 2014. 

HTML5 is the most modern version used nowadays by all developers and all modern browsers support it. HTML5 has many enhanced APIs and features which make it much easier for a web developer to get the desired result for his/her web page.

What is JavaScript?

JavaScript or JS is a high-level, object-oriented programming language commonly used to develop the client-side of websites. Together with HTML and CSS it forms part of the World Wide Web technologies. Everything animated and functioning in a web page is done using JavaScript. 

Without the use of JavaScript you will only have a static website that contains pictures, colors, links and texts. Features like button click, search, file upload/download or anything else will not work. 

Because of this important role that JavaScript has on web building, all browsers have built-in engines that support JavaScript. This makes it easier for developers to use as there is no need to install an additional program. 

In 1995 Netscape Navigator wanted to create a scripting language which could allow developers to start developing dynamic websites as by that time no such website was developed. They hired Brendan Eich to develop a scripting language which could make dynamic websites possible. Eich developed a language whose syntax was similar to Java language. When Eich scripting language was released it was called LiveScript however,  after three months its name was changed to JavaScript.  

Meanwhile Microsoft reversed-engineered the navigator interpreter to create its own scripting language. Doing so Internet Explorer was released with JScript. JScript was considerably different from Netscape’s JavaScript, which made it complicated for the developers as their website would never work out the same in the two different browsers. 

In 1996, Netscape submitted JavaScript to ECMA International to make JavaScript a standard for every browser in the market. This eventually led to the release of ECMAScript specifications. These specifications are constantly being updated with new specifications almost every year. 

JavaScript makes use of various frameworks which makes life easier for developers as it can allow them to manipulate the entire software by the use of a platform. JavaScript frameworks are Angular, vue, JQuery, reactjs, ember.js, node.js. 

Let’s go into a bit more detail about some of the most popular and important JavaScript frameworks:

  • node.js is an open-source that executes JavaScript on the server side and runs the website before the page is actually sent to the user’s browser. 
  • Vue.js this framework is an open-source which allows developers to build user interfaces of websites or single-page applications. 
  • React.js is a JavaScript library and like vue.js it is used to develop single-page applications and user interface and allows users to use prewritten code.
  • Angularjs is an open-source framework maintained by Google and is also used for developing single-page applications. It can be applied through HTML pages. 
  • JQuery is a JavaScript library used to make web pages more interactive. The purpose of JQuery library is a fast way you can develop something which requires lots of code in just one simple call. 

What is Vanilla JavaScript?

JavaScript is sometimes referred to as Vanilla JavaScript. This means that normal JavaScript syntax is used but without the use of libraries such as JQuery or the use of other frameworks.

How to add JavaScript in HTML?

To build dynamic websites you have to add JavaScript to HTML pages. This can be done using one of these two following methods. 

1. Add a <script> tag in HTML code like this example:

  <script type="text/javascript">


2. A script with JavaScript page’s path can be added in the HTML page as follows:

   <script src=”index.js”> </script>

Difference between JavaScript and HTML 

As we already analysed in the previous sections, HTML is used to structure the content of a website while JavaScript is a programming language used to make a website functional. By reading this definition one can immediately notice the most important difference between the two world wide web technologies. 

Below we will highlight some of the other differences JavaScript and HTML have:

  • HTML needs a browser to display the content while JavaScript requires a JS engine to execute the code. Although the end user will eventually experience the result of JavaScript and HTML code through a web browser.
  • JavaScript can be added into HTML while HTML cannot be added directly into JavaScript code.
  • HTML is supported in all browsers even old versions while JavaScript certain functionalities may not be supported in all browsers.
  • HTML is a markup language while JavaScript is a scripting language.
  • HTML makes use of various tags while JavaScript makes use of inbuilt functionalities 
  • HTML is rendered from the server side and does not require any client side environment while JavaScript is compiled by the JIT compiler and then executed on the client side.
  • HTML has different types of data types to display on websites like content, footer, audio, video, images while JavaScript controls the display of these data according to the functionalities designed. 

Limitations of HTML and JavaScript 

When we highlighted some differences of HTML and JavaScript one can easily come up with a list of limitations each one has. 

If we take a look at the JavaScript limitations we would surely mention that  certain JavaScript functionalities are not supported by all browsers, especially some old versions of web browsers. Also with JavaScript alone a developer cannot create a website. JavaScript needs to be integrated with HTML pages to develop a user-friendly fully functional website.

On the other hand the main HTML’s limitations is that only static websites can be developed. No functionalities can be added in the website. 

When to use HTML, JavaScript or both

If a developer needs to develop an informative website, which is user friendly, which contains tabs and pages that contain text and images, this can be done by using HTML only.  

Some examples of static websites can be 

  • Website of a famous person who wishes to have some information about himself/herself and maybe add some information about his/her work and some photos and some links to his/her personal Facebook page.
  • Tourist information about a historical site which contains text and images 
  • A website of a shop where you can only view the products available but cannot purchase online.

JavaScript is used to make features in a website work. You cannot have a website without the use of HTML. If HTML and JavaScript together with CSS are used dynamic websites can be built like:

  • Website to purchase online products. Where there is a login feature and a shopping cart.
  • Website with a live chat 
  • News website where you can have an account and leave comments 
  • Airline websites where you can search for a flight and buy a ticket
  • Informative website like wikipedia where you can search and change language 



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