To start off, the answer to the initial question is that the colleague is incorrect. HTML is not a programming language. Actually, the full name is hyper text markup language, which is a clue in itself. HTML is, therefore, a markup language. Markup languages are just basic code which forms the essential structure of most every website around. At its core, such a type of language is a set of tags which are used to ‘mark up’ or set apart documents and pages so that certain areas of text can be labeled and logically arranged. This is what allows web pages to be viewed either as plain text or through a browser. The browser simply parses the document by looking for the markup tags and then arranges everything according to those tags and commands.
Programming languages, on the other hand, are used to write programs (yeah, that was an easy one to figure out!) which run for a little while and are able to perform either a single or multiple functions. There are quite a few programming languages around. Some of the more popular ones include Visual Basic, C and C++. One of the main features of this type of language is the fact that the code must be compiled before it is run. By the same token, once it is compiled, then the program may be run any number of times.
Scripting languages are used to control functions which run only for a short while and perform only a single function at a time. When a scripting language is used it is ordinarily interpreted at the time it is run. This leads to the fact that each time this function is to be performed a separate program or tool needs to read the code, interpret this code and then follow those instructions in order for this function to execute.
When using compiled code, such as in a programming language, functions will usually execute more quickly. This is because the code has already been converted into (and interpreted) machine language. This skips a step that is required by a script. It is also important to understand and accept that not all programming languages are compiled the same way. For example, C and C++ and Visual Basic are more or less truly compiled programming languages. On the other hand, Java is a bit more technical and may or may not be considered compiled depending on your definition.
Another way to think about these differences may be where they are situated. For example, scripting languages must be embedded. On the other hand, programming languages are capable of being used on a stand alone basis. Also, every programming language will have its own compiler.
Hope this helps clear up the confusion.
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