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Web Terminology


Accessibility - A process in which a website is developed to allow the widest possible access to the content therein, regardless of the website visitor's ability/disability. Accessibility guides include WAI WCAG and Section 508.

ADSL - Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line. Broadband Internet connection who's download and upload speeds differ.

Ajax - Asynchronous JavaScript And XML. The name given to a a group of existing technologies that can be used to exchange web based data. The result can be; a webpage that behaves more like a 'desktop' application.

Apache - Web Server Software. This is the standard server application that is installed by most hosting providers. Put bluntly, it is the software management system that dealt with your 'request' to view this page.

ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange.

ASP - Active Server Pages. Propriety database technology distributed by Microsoft. Not open source.


Backbone - A high-speed line or series of connections that forms a major pathway within a network.

Bandwidth - How much data that can be sent through a network connection (usually Internet). A 56k Dial-Up Modem can send about 57,000 bits in one second. Modern DSL connections are capable of transfers of 100Mbits (100,000,000 bps)

Blog - Short for web-log. An web-based journal.

Browser - Special software designed to read web pages. Often referred to as a Web Browser. Popular browsers include Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Mozilla's Firefox, Netscape's Navigator and Opera. Most browsers are offered for free.


CGI - Common Gateway Interface. A facility on your host's server for running Server-Side scripts, etc.

Client - A piece of software designed to contact and obtain data from a Web Server. An Email Client or Browser Client are examples.

Client-Side - Any requirement or procedure that relies upon and executes on the users computer. This basically means the hardware/software set-up being used by a visitor to a website. See: Server-Side.

Cold Fusion - Server-Side technology used for databases and web applications. Adobe Software Technology.

Cookie - A small file sent by a Web Server (usually through a website) to a Web Browser which is saved on the users computer. This file can then be referenced when the user revisits the same Web Sever (website).

CSS - Cascading Style Sheets. A standard for formatting the appearance of webpages, etc. In relation to 'Web Standards' and 'Semantics', it is used to separate 'meaning' from 'presentation'. Used alongside HTML, XML, XHTML, etc.


DHTML - Dynamic HyperText Markup Language. The unofficial name given to webpages that combine HTML, JavaScript, and CSS technologies.

DNS - Domain Name System. The system that translates Internet domain names into IP numbers.

Domain Name - The unique name that identifies an Internet based website. Example:

Download - Transfer of data from another 'remote' computer (usually via the Internet or an intranet). See: Upload.


Ethernet - Common method of linking computers in a LAN (Local Area Network).


Firewall - Hardware and software systems designed to create a security barrier between networks. These can be configured to allow decisions to be made on what can and can not be accessed. Used to detect and block illegal access attempts.

Flash - Web based Multi-Media technology from Adobe. Widely used. Requires Browser Plug-In. File extension (SWF) ShockWave Flash.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol. Common method for transferring files between computers via the Internet.


GIF - Graphic Interchange Format. Image file format used extensively on the Web. Ideal for using with large areas of flat colour. Displays a maximum of 256 colours, file sizes are reduced by discarding colours. See: JPEG, PNG.


Homepage - The default entry page to a website. If a user only inputs a Domain Name in a Browser, the Browser will begin downloading the Homepage. The most common way to indicate which page is to be your Homepage, is to name it; index.htm.

Host - A computer that stores and serves web pages over the Web. Most people rent webspace for their website from specialist 'Hosting' providers.

HTML - Hyper Text Mark-Up Language. Standard Mark-Up coding language for creating web pages. See: HTTP

HTTP - Hyper Text Transfer Protocol. Standard protocol for addressing Hyper Text web pages on the web. See: HTML


Internet - A world wide grid of inter-linked (networked) computers.

Intranet - A closed network of inter-linked computers. Often using the same technologies as the Internet. Used by organisations for sharing internal information.

IP Address or Number - Internet Protocol. Every computer that accesses the Internet must have a unique identifying number. IP numbers can be assigned temporarily only whilst a computer is 'on-line'. Each active Domain Name will have a IP number assigned to it.

ISP - Internet Service Provider. Companies that provide a means for their users to access the Internet.


Java - Sophisticated programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. Used often on the Web because, unlike other languages (C++), it is not system or platform dependent. (i.e. Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix).

JavaScript - Scripting language often used on webpages. Not to be confused with Java.

JavaScript Libraries or Frameworks - Used as a way to simplify JavaScript, allowing common procedures to be easily implemented. Commonly used libraries include jQuery, MooTools, YUI, etc.

JPEG - Joint Photographic Experts Group. Image file format used extensively on the Web. JPEG uses lossy compression (quality degrades) to reduce image file sizes allowing them to download quickly on a webpage. Best suited to images that contain colour variation and gradients, like photographs. Not suitable for flat areas of colour. See: GIF, PNG.

JSP - Java Server Pages. Server-Side technology used for databases and web applications.


Kilobyte - 1,000 bytes. 1,024 to be precise. Computers use Base 16.

Keywords - Meta Tag used in HTML. Used to identify/describe the purpose of a webpage. Search Engines use this information when indexing. Sometimes used as a general term to describe words you wish to target as part of SEO.


LAN - Local Area Network. Usually a small group of inter- connected computers.

Linux - Computer operating system. An open source system developed to run on desktop PC's, servers, etc.

Local - In relation to websites this refers to the version of a website that resides on a 'local' computer within the company, office, web design studio, etc. See: Remote.


Megabyte - 1,000 Kilobytes. 1,024 to be precise. Computers use Base 16.

Meta Tags - Tags used in HTML that are not displayed in the resulting webpage. Used to identify/describe the purpose of a webpage. Search Engines can use this information when indexing.

Mirror - To maintain an exact copy. Some websites offer an alternative 'mirror' site, that is used if the original fails. Also refers to 'local' and 'remote' versions of the same website.

MySQL - Open-Source sever-side database technology, often used in conjunction with PHP.


Network - Two or more computers connected together that can share information, data, software, etc.

Newsletter - A subscription service offered by some websites, usually received at regular intervals via email.


Open Source - Any kind of computer software, program, application, script, etc, who's source code can be legally viewed and modified. Software that is often developed by a community. Open Source software is usually free to use.


PDF - Portable Document Format. Popular document format designed to give complete control over layout and formatting. Files read by 'Acrobat' reader. Can be viewed in a web Browser via the Acrobat Plug-In. Adobe format.

PHP - Popular Open-Source 'middleware' scripting/programming language used to build 'web applications'. Often used as the 'application' layer between sever-side database technologies and the client-side Web Browser.

Plug-In - Software designed to add to, and work with, another piece of software. Plug-In's are often required by Web Browsers to enable them to read certain file types.

Flash Plug-In allows you to view and interact with SWF flies.

Quicktime Plug-In allows you to view and interact with MOV flies.

PNG - Portable Network Graphics. Image file format designed for, and used extensively on the Web. A fairly recent introduction, designed to resolve the weaknesses inherent in previous web formats. See: GIF, JPEG.

POP3 (Email) - Post Office Protocol. Common standard protocol for non-web based email communication.


Quicktime - Streaming and compression technology used mainly for web video.


Remote - In relation to websites this refers to the version of a website that physically resides on a 'remote' server computer. This is often your 'Host' computer and is accessible via FTP. See: Local.


Search Engine - A web based database used to find websites. Work on the basis of a websites relevance to a search phrase.

SEO - Search Engine Optimisation. A technique for making a website Search Engine 'friendly'.

Server - Generally, a computer that stores and provides access to websites. Webpages are said to be 'served' to a client application, i.e. a Web Browser.

Server-Side - Any requirement or procedure that relies upon and executes on a server computer. Many database technologies are Server-Side.

SMTP - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. Common protocol used to send email from server to server via the Internet.

Social Networking - Phenomena in the use of Web based applications or sites, where the primary role is to facilitate communication between users. FaceBook and YouTube are examples.

Spam - An email message (usually unwanted) randomly sent to many unknown recipients. Considered very bad etiquette. Has become illegal to practice in some counties.

SQL - Structured Query Language. A language for sending queries to databases.

SSL - Secure Socket Layer. Protocol to enable encrypted communications across the Internet

Streaming - A technology that allows time-based media to be viewed whilst downloading. The beginning of a video sequence can be viewed whilst the middle and end are still downloading. Techs' include Flash, Quicktime, RealMedia, etc.


Trojan - A computer program, usually malicious, that disguises itself as something else.


Unix - Operating System often used on Server computers.

Upload - Transfer of data to another 'remote' computer. See: Download.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator. At its simplest, URL can be seen to be synonymous with a 'web address'.


Virus - Any program, script, applet, etc, designed to replicate itself. Usually used to describe code that is capable of executing destructive actions - file deletion, etc.


Web 2.0 - A vague term, but can be loosely defined as a 'second phase' development in how the web is being used by people, and how new design and development technologies have been implemented. 'Social Networking' and 'Blogging' are examples in usage. 'Usability', JavaScript and 'Ajax' widgets, are examples in design and Web development.

World Wide Web (www) - An international protocol (http:) used as a common means to communicate via the Internet.

Worm - Type of Virus.


XML - eXtensible Markup Language. A widely used system for defining data formats.

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