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What Is Hand Coding?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 16, 2024
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Hand coding is a programming and coding technique in which the user types out all the code manually. When a user builds a website or program, he or she can either hand code or use a generator — often known as a What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editor. One advantage to hand coding is a smaller coding footprint, which causes websites and programs to load quickly and cleanly. Most jobs that hire programmers require that they know how to hand code, because some generators may be limited in functionality. The disadvantages of manually coding a website or program are that it takes longer and there is a learning curve.

A programmer who wants to create a website or program can choose to hand code or to use a generator. With hand coding, the user types out everything manually; all the code is typed into a text editor by hand. If a generator is used, the generator will automatically create a large chunk of the code. For example, if the programmer wants to place an image on a website, he or she can just open the image in the generator and the generator will create all the coding needed to affix the image to the website.

The primary advantage to hand coding is a small coding footprint; when a generator is used, it often creates extra code. Some generators add identifying code, so other users know what generator made the website or program. Other generators add extra code to satisfy several years worth of coding standards at once, so people who have earlier Internet browsers or operating systems can still use the website or program, but this is typically unnecessary. A hand-coded website or program will typically have much less coding, so loading times are much quicker. Coding also loads cleaner, meaning there is less of a chance that some part of the program or website will load improperly, causing code to appear rather than an image or text.

If a programmer is looking for a career in building programs or websites, most employers ask that her or she know how to hand code. Generators are normally able to manipulate and create code quite well, but generators may not be able to correct advanced coding issues. Knowing hand coding also requires more coding knowledge, making the programmer more adept at the coding language.

There are two major disadvantages to hand coding: time and knowledge. Creating a website or program from scratch can take hours or days longer than using a generator will. Hand-coding programmers also must have good knowledge of the coding language; otherwise, they will have to check coding references often while making the website or program.

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