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Web Jargonbuster page

The computer and web industries are packed full of acronyms, abbreviations, jargon and buzz words. We try hard not to use this jargon, though sometimes it is unavoidable.

This jargon buster is not a full fledged web dictionary but a resource explaining the most common terms we use in our day to day business.

AJAX (Asynchronous Javascript and XML)

Not a technology in its own right, AJAX is a term used to describe a group of web technologies (including HTML, XHTML, CSS, Javascript, XML) that can be used together to implement a web application.

Further reading at Mozilla Developer Centre

API (Application Program Interface)

A set of protocols, routines, rules and other tools, which assist a programmer or web designer in building software applications.

Two examples are Paypal and Google Maps, whereby each organisation provides an API detailing all the building blocks needed to create an interface with their technology. The programmer or web designer will take these blocks and build an interface that works with these technologies. In these examples the API for Paypal creates an interface for processing payments, and Google Maps creates an interface for generating and processing maps.

Further reading at Wikipedia

ASP (Active Server Pages)

Microsoft based technology which dynamically generates web pages (files have a .asp extension e.g. homepage.asp). Utilising ActiveX scripting (invariably VB (Visual Basic) or Javascript).

Further reading at Wikipedia ASP


An XML based language developed and used for web feeds and alternative to RSS.

Further reading at Wikipedia - ATOM

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Back End

A generalised term used in conjunction with ‘Front End’ that refers to the behind the scenes of a web site or application within the website.

For example, a website will have front end – the visible website available to the public to view and interact with. In this example the website has a login facility application. The back end of the application is where the administrator can add, delete, alter, and amend items. The website domain will have a back end where the webmaster or website owner can add, alter, amend and delete items.

Websites we design use a back end called Cpanel.


In respect of websites, bandwidth is the the amount of data that can be carried per second by an internet connection, usually measured in kilobytes per second (kbps).

Another reference to Bandwidth is the capacity of its output (Bandwidth Capacity). This is the total amount of data that can be transferred in a given time span. For example 2gb per month means that a maximum of 2 gigabytes worth of data can transferred in a given month.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Bandwidth


A software application/program used to retrieve, process and present information (web pages) on the internet. Some of the best known browsers are: Mozilla Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and Netscape.

Although predominantly used to access pages ion the internet, Browsers can be used to view and access files on private computers.

A large part of any web designer’s time and energy goes into making web sites compatible with as many browsers as possible. Although there are set standards for many aspects of the internet, each browser interprets them differently. This means that a given website may work well using one browser but not at all or not very well with another browser.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Browsers


Defects or errors in a piece of software or web page that can stop it from working or make it work strangely. A website is a culmination of numerous technologies working together to create a finished entity. Each technology has its own syntax, format, rules and guidelines. Even so much as an ill placed comma or missing semi colon will cause an application to stop working properly.

Part of any web design process will incorporate debugging as a matter of course and can often be extremely time consuming.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Debugging


Used to measure amounts of computer data. One byte is roughly the same as one character (letter) of text. One KB (or one K) is approximately 1,000 bytes, one MB is approximately 1,000 KB, and one GB is approximately 1,000 MB.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Bytes

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In web use a cache is a collection of frequently used data that is saved and stored on a temporary basis, which can then be accessed quicker than the original data.

For example, your browser uses a 'cache' to store web pages you have already viewed. When you revisit those pages, they will load more quickly as they come from the cache (temporary storage) and don't need to be downloaded or accessed all over again.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Cache

CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

CGI is a protocol that allows interaction between application software and a server. When a website user makes a request, for example a search, the CGI script will analyze the request, and send back the appropriate output (normally HTML) that can be viewed and understood by the end user.

An example of a CGI script is one that implements Wikipedia.

CGI further reading at Wikipedia - CGI

.CGI Further reading at Wikipedia - .CGI

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)

CSS is a language or set of instructions used to instruct how a web page should look and is most commonly used in conjunction with HTML and XHTML, but can also be applied to others such as XML.

By using CSS you separate the content of the web page (HTML etc) from the presentation, including elements such as colour, size, and layout. This facilitates total control over the visual qualities of the site and page as some or all of the pages can use the same formatting thus reducing the amount of repetition and time.

Although CSS has a large repository of controls, not all are supported by the different browsers, creating numerous compatibility issues. A web designer or programmer will spend an inordinate amount of time dealing with compatibility issues and finding solutions for them!

Further reading at Wikipedia - CSS


A small file (normally text), stored on a persons computer which websites place on your hard drive. The information is used in different ways but essentially carries set information from page to page.

For example if a website uses a login script or shopping cart, the details of your login and details of your shopping cart are kept without the information having to be re-inputted evry time you view a new page.

Cookies are not spy ware or viruses though some cookies are identified by some anti-viral software programs because can facilitate web users to be tracked visiting different websites.

Further reading at Wikipedia - Cookie

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