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Glossary of Internet and Computer Terminology (Web Jargon)

Below is a collection of commonly used terms, phrases, names and abbreviations widely used when reffering to the Internet, computers and the information Technology (I.T.) Industry.


A-Z of Jargon

ADSL: Stands for Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line, and is a way of making use of existing analogue telephone lines to provide high-speed digital Internet access. As the connection is asynchronous, the download speed is typically higher than the upload speed.

Bandwidth: In terms of Web hosting, 'bandwidth' describes to the amount of data sent across the internet over a period of time. Bandwidth is commonly referred to as 'Traffic'. As an example, a web hosting company may allow '5Gb of data transfer' per month.

Broadband: Comes from the words "broad bandwidth" and is used to describe a high-capacity, two-way link to the Internet or other networks, due to the large amounts of data broadband is capable of handling it can support audio and full-motion, interactive video media.

Byte: A set of Bits that represent a single character. Usually there are 8 Bits in a Byte, sometimes more, depending on how the measurement is being made.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS): A format used to separate style from structure on Web pages, it is a feature of HTML that gives both Web developers and users more control over how Web pages are displayed. Style sheets are used on this website.

Client/Client-side: A computer, or a software package that runs on a personal computer or workstation and relies on a server to perform some operations. For example, a web browser is an application that enables you to download and view web pages issued by a web server.

Database: A collection of files managed by a specific piece of software and serving one or more applications with data. The major functions of databases are to provide security, consistency, integrity, recovery and performance.

Domain Name Server (DNS): A server that relates an internet domain name (such as to an IP address.

Download: The transfer of data [usually a file] from a another computer to the computer that you are using. The opposite of upload.

Email [Electronic Mail]: A system for sending and receiving electronic messages [usually text or images] between computers over a computer network, for instance the World Wide Web [WWW]. E-mail can also be sent automatically to a large number of addresses.

Encryption: A procedure that renders the contents of a message or file unintelligible to anyone not authorised to view it.

FTP [File Transfer Protocol]: A common method [protocol means method] of transmitting files between computers. FTP is a common method of transfering web pages from a client to a web server.

Gigabyte: A unit of storage measurement consisting of one billion bytes. One gigabyte is equal to 1,024 megabytes. Gigabyte is often abbreviated as G or GB. Often referred to as a 'gig'.

Home Page/Homepage: The opening or main page of a website, intended chiefly to greet visitors and provide information about the website. A homepage may also contain introductionary words and links to other sections of a website.

Host: Any computer on a network that is a repository for services available to other computers on the network. It is quite common to have one host machine provide several services, such as SMTP [email] and HTTP [web].

Hosting: Website hosting is the storing, serving, and maintenance of files for websites. Besides providing the computer space for website files hosting services offer fast connections to the hosted webspace that an individual business hosting its own site would find too expensive. Hosting will usually include the facility of a mail server dealing with email.

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. This is the main code format that web pages are written in.

HTTP [HyperText Transfer Protocol]: The protocol [method] for moving hypertext files across the Internet. Requires a HTTP client program [such as a web browser] on one end, and a HTTP server program [for example, a web server] on the other end. HTTP is the most important protocol used in the World Wide Web [WWW].

Hypertext [or Hyperlink]: You should have clicked on one to get to this page! Hyperlinks are text that contains links to other websites, other web pages within the same website or other places on the same page. Clicking on the link [in the case of using a PC, or personal computer] takes the user to that location.

Kilobyte: Often illustrated as 'KB', a kilobyte represents 1024 bytes.

Linux: A widely used Open Source Unix-like operating system. There are versions of Linux for almost every available type of computer hardware - from desktop machines to mainframes. The inner workings of Linux are open and available for anyone to examine and change as long as they make their changes available to the public. This has resulted in thousands of people working on various aspects of Linux and adaptation of Linux for a huge variety of purposes, from servers to television recording boxes.

Megabyte: Often illustrated as 'MB', a megabyte represents 1024 kilobytes.

Merchants: Technical term meaning customers of the providers in the e-commerce industry.

Merchant ID Number: A merchant ID number is required to take credit card transactions. They come in three flavours:

  • Shop [as in the High Street] where the Cardholder is Present
  • MO/TO [Mail order/Telephone order] with Cardholder Not Present, via post/phone/fax
  • E-Commerce, Cardholder Not Present, via the Internet

A company may therefore already have a MO/TO Merchant ID number, but will still have to apply for a Merchant ID number for e-Commerce. There are however, usually costs involved. Typically the bank will include set up charges, monthly or annual fees, monthly rental of a terminal for you to process card details, and maybe insist on a dedicated telephone line for the terminal. You will also be charged a percentage of each transaction that they process, you may have a minimum monthly volume of business imposed, and in some cases you will have to provide a substantial bond or deposit.

Merchant Status: Traditionally, to be allowed to accept credit cards for any high street business, you must be granted Merchant Status by a major bank and obtain a Merchant ID from them. UK High Street banks have what is known as an acquiring bank service. These acquiring banks are able to issue a Merchant ID and allow your business to start accepting credit cardss. They will authorise or decline each customer transaction, collect payments on your behalf and pay money into your bank account.

Meta Tag: A special coding tag contained within web pages to provide information about that page. Unlike normal coding tags, meta tags do not affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they provide information such as who created the page, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content. Many search engines use this information when building their indices. If you using Internet Explorer, click 'view' and select 'source' from the menu to view our meta tag.

MySQL: Database management software commonly used to store information for use on web sites. The official way to pronounce MySQL is 'My Ess Que Ell'.

Nominet: Nominet is the official registry for .uk internet domain names. They are officially recognised by the internet industry and the UK Government.

Payments Service Providers [PSPs]: Payment service providers [sometimes called payment gateway companies] allow a business with merchant status to take real time credit card payments online. Many companies provide this service, however rates vary considerably.

Petabyte: A petabyte is a measure of computer data storage capacity and is one thousand million million (1,000,000,000,000,000) bytes. Equivalent to 1,000 terabytes or 1000000 gigabytes. Abbreviation PB.

PHP: Self-referentially short for PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is a programming language used for creating dynamic web pages. PHP scripts [or programs/applications] run on the server side when browsing the web. They are used to generate web pages from pre-determined formatting rules and parameters.

Scaleable or Scalability: Refers to the ability of hardware or software to adapt to increased demands while continuing to work accurately. It also describes how well a solution to some problem will work when the size of the problem increases at a later time. All web sites should be built with scalability as a primary concern, as future expansion may not be possible without an expensive redesign.

Secure Payment Page: A web page where the confidential information, such as credit card information, is entered and submitted for processing in a secure/safe environment. A secure page is indicated by the appearance of a padlock in the bottom right hand side of your computer screen. The URL of a secure page is also identified by the beginning of the website address being 'https://'.

Security Certificate: A chunk of information [often stored as a text file] that is used by the SSL protocol [see below] to establish a secure connection.

Server/Server-side: A computer, or a software package, that provides a specific kind of service to client software running on other computers. The term can refer to a particular piece of software, such as a WWW server, or to the machine on which the software is running, for example - 'Our mail server is down today, that's why e-mail isn't getting out.' This never happens to Pixelism's mail server of course! A single server machine can [and often does] have several different server software packages running on it, thus providing many different servers to clients on the network.

Shopping Cart: Software that allows your visitors to select products for purchase on your site. The visitor is presented with a virtual shopping 'basket' displaying their chosen items.

SMTP [Simple Mail Transfer Protocol]: The main protocol used to send electronic mail from server to server on the Internet.

SSL [Secure Socket Layer]: A protocol designed by Netscape Communications to enable encrypted, authenticated communications across the Internet.

SQL [Structured Query Language]: A specialized language for sending queries to databases. Most industrial-strength and many smaller database applications can be addressed using SQL. Each specific application will have its own slightly different version of SQL implementing features unique to that application, but all SQL-capable databases support a common subset of SQL. The text you are reading is stored an SQL compliant database.

Terabyte: A unit of storage measurement consisting of one thousand billion bytes. Often illustrated as 'TB', a Terabyte represents 1024 gigabytes. A terabyte of data is equivalent to 1,000 gigabytes of data or 1,000,000 megabytes of data.

TLD [Top Level Domain]: The last [right-hand] part of a complete Domain Name. For example in the domain name - '.com' is the Top Level Domain. There are a large number of TLD's, for example .biz, .com, .edu, .gov, .info, .int, .mil, .net, .org, and a collection of two-letter TLD's corresponding to the standard two-letter country codes, for example, .us, .ca, .jp, etc.

XHTML: XHTML is a reformulation of HTML so that it conforms to the rules of XML. This means that XHTML is very similar to HTML, except for slight differences in the markup, but it is now an application of XML.

XML [eXtensible Markup Language]: A widely used system for defining data formats. XML provides a very rich system to define complex documents and data structures, for instance a news feed or a glossary. Providing a programmer has the XML definition for a collection of data [often called a 'schema'], he or she can create a program to reliably process any data formatted according to those rules.

Zoo: A place where you can find and see a variety of different animals and species kept for exhibition and study .... nothing to do with the net ... we just wanted to add the letter Z ;-)


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