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Glossary of Internet Terms

Click on a letter to go directly to terms starting with that character.

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ActiveX
An application programming interface (API) that allows web browsers to download and execute Windows programs. For example, Netscape Communicator's support for ActiveX lets users open an Excel spreadsheet from within Netscape Navigator.
Agent
A program that creates a model of a computer user's personal interests and tastes, and acts as a proxy in searching out and prioritizing information for that user. Agent technology is often used to classify and prioritize information for custom delivery via push technology.
Applet
A client-side program written in Java or JavaScript that downloads and executes on the end user's computer rather than executing on the server.
API (Application Programming Interface)
A standard interface built into a program that lets other programs communicate with it. Used by web browsers and databases as an alternative to CGI gateways. The client-side program is written in Java or JavaScript, and it downloads and executes on the end user's computer rather than executing on the server.
ASCII
The "American Standard Code for Information Interchange" is basically a set of numbers that represent all the normal characters one would find on their keyboard. There are many variations on this theme used for different languages or other purposes. Text saved in ASCII (.txt) format can be read by all word processing programs on most platforms.
ASP
Active Server Pages (.asp) make use of special code on Microsoft web servers to create web pages. Generally used in large e-commerce websites.
Bin Hex
A file format commonly used in sending large files and images over the Internet.
Blogs or Blogging
A blog (short for web log) is a way for someone to present a running journal for a wide variety of readers. They have been made to be very simple to create and maintain. Sometimes readers can add their own entries or comments to the blog
Bookmark
A way for web browser users to mark a web page they want to return to later.
Browser safe colors
The 216 colors that will not get dithered on monitors that only display 256 colors. A very large GIF that contains a complete list of browser safe colors is here.
Cache
To store on a computer user's hard disk a local copy of a web page accessed via the Internet. The web browser compares the cached copy of the page to the original, and if there have been no changes, the browser will use the cached copy rather than reloading the page onto the client, saving processing and download time. Also refers to a web site's database generating static copies of frequently requested dynamic pages, reducing processing time.
Channel
A dynamic information-delivery source. A web site becomes a web channel when it dynamically broadcasts its content to users who have expressed an interest in receiving that information. Users can select channels they want to receive so they do not have to type the address for each site every time they want that information. It's ready for them when they want it, stored in a cache for easy viewing offline. See also Push.
Chat
A feature that lets you talk with other computer users in real-time online sessions.
Client
Computer hardware or software used by an end user on a computer network or the Internet to query a remote server. A web browser is an example of client software.
Client-Server
A computing network in which the functions are divided between clients (or personal computers or terminals), and servers that store, process, and transmit the information.
Client-Side Program
A computer program that is downloaded from a server and executed or run using the end user's computer hardware. Java and JavaScript are examples of client-side programs.
Commands and Filters
Commands and filters allow users to prioritize and organize incoming email messages and discussion group postings.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface)
A server-side communication standard supported by all web servers for accessing external programs. Since HTML allows only one-way communication from the server, which is read by the web browser or client, CGI permits communication and interaction from the client to the server for two-way, dynamic web pages.
Cookie
A unique string of letters and numbers that the web server stores in a file on your hard drive. This method is used by web designers to track visitors to a web site so the visitors do not have to enter the same information every time they go to a new page or revisit a site. For example, web designers use cookies to keep track of purchases a visitor wants to make while shopping through a web catalog. Cookies may work through a single visit to a web site, such as when tracking a shopping trip, or may be set to work through multiple sessions when a visitor returns to the site.
Database
A data software file, containing many records, each of which contains the same set of fields, where each field contains a specific type of information.
Digital Certificates
The digital equivalent of positive identification, such as a driver's license. Issued by various certificate authorities, digital certificates are used to prove that a web site, or a visitor to a web site, is the entity or person they claim to be.
Digital Signatures
Digital signatures work just like paper-and-ink signatures, allowing document recipients to confirm the source of a document. Digital signatures are generated by digital certificates.
Dithering
When a color that is not browser safe is displayed, two browser safe colors are mixed (or alternated) to create the desired color. This is called dithering.
Domain Names
All servers on the Internet have a TCP-IP address that consists of a set of four numbers like 124.32.9.76 By assigning a name to the TCP-IP address - or vice versa - the Web becomes easier to use. URL addresses (domain names) are obtainable from many sources. Anyone can own a domain name. The real quest is finding one no one owns yet.
Download
To receive a copy of a file from another computer or web server using a modem.
Dynamic
A web document that is created from a database in real-time or "on the fly" at the same time it is being viewed, providing a continuous flow of new information and giving visitors a new experience each time they visit the web site.
DHTML (Dynamic HTML)
The next generation of HTML, the language that specifies exactly how text and images will be displayed on a web page. Dynamic HTML, developed by Netscape and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), is based entirely on industry-standard HTML and Java. New features in Dynamic HTML, such as absolute positioning, give designers and developers greater control over the look and feel of web pages.
Dynamic IP Addressing
Allows users to automatically locate Internet or intranet sites.
e-commerce (Electronic Commerce)
Conducting business online, including product display, merchant accounts, online ordering, secure transactions and inventory management.
Encryption
A method of encoding messages to provide privacy for email, discussion group postings, and other communications as they move over intranets or the Internet. Some methods of encrypting, such as 128-bit encryption, are so difficult to break that U.S. export laws permit them to be used only within the United States.
Enterprise
A large-scale, organization wide computer network that may include web-based, client-server, and mainframe computing technologies.
Extranet
A specialized virtual community created by linking business groups via the World Wide Web. Similar to an intranet, an extranet includes outside vendors and uses web technology to facilitate inter business transactions, such as placing and checking orders, tracking merchandise, and making payments.
E-zine
An electronic magazine or newsletter delivered over the Internet via E-mail. A Web-zine is a web site that has a magazine format and is not e-mailed.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
A list of facts about a specific subject. Usually presented in a question and answer format.
Firewall
Computer hardware and/or software that limits access to a computer over a network or from an outside source. Used to prevent computer hackers from getting into a company's computer systems.
Frame
On web pages, a "frame" refer to a part of the screen which is reserved for a particular purpose. On this web site, there is a "navigation frame" and a "content frame".
FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
A standard that allows users to transfer files from one computer to another using a modem and telephone lines. Like HTTP, FTP is a protocol that provides a way of uploading and downloading files, including .DOC, .EXE, .SIT, .ZIP, .GIF, .JPG, etc.
GIF (Graphic Information File)
Originated by CompuServe as a way of keeping image files small for easier transport over networks. GIFs are the most widely used graphic file type because can be transparent or even animated. GIFs are limited to 256 colors and look best when using the 216 browser safe colors.
GUI (Graphical User Interface)
A user interface that displays in graphic or pictorial format rather than in text only.
Hexadecimal
When you define colors for backgrounds, links, fonts and whatever else in HTML, you can either define them with a word (i.e. "white") or the hexadecimal equivalent. The hexadecimal notation represents each RGB (red, green & blue) component of a color in two characters, 00 to FF, rather than three characters, 000 to 256. The hexadecimal equivalent of white is 000000, and black is FFFFFF. A very large GIF that contains a complete list of browser safe colors and their hexadecimal designations is here.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
HTML is the code that tells browsers how to display a page on your screen. This code, sometimes called "markup", uses "tags" that instruct a browser to make text a certain size or style, display an image, or link to another page or web site.
HTML Editor
A software program that makes creating a web page nearly as easy as typing a memo using a word processor. Instead of learning HTML commands, users can format web pages using a menu. HTML editing tools support bullets, tables, paragraph alignment, font size, font color, indenting, and other common formatting features. Many HTML editor packages display the page being edited exactly the same way it will be displayed on the web - a feature called WYSIWYG, or what you see is what you get.
Hyperlink
An element found on web pages and other electronic documents that, when clicked with a mouse, automatically opens a file or web page in your web browser. A hyperlink may be a word, button, or graphic. When a hyperlink is text, it typically displays in a different color and may also be underlined. A text hyperlink that has already been visited is usually displayed in a different color.
Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
The set of standards that allows computer users to access the Internet or the World Wide Web. HTTP:// is the command that tells the web browser that the document found at this address is HTTP-compatible, and to display it in HTTP format.
Internet
The "information superhighway" that is made possible by standard Transmission Control Protocols/Internet Protocols (TCP/IP). Originally developed for the U.S. military in 1969, it grew to include educational and research institutions. With the advent of Netscape Navigator, the arcane commands formerly used to access the Internet became unnecessary. The Internet includes the World Wide Web, Usenet user groups and newsgroups.
IMAP4 (Internet Message Access Protocol Version 4)
A network standard that allows users to manage email messages and folders from multiple locations and systems. Users can choose to store their messages on their own local computer (or client), or on a server.
ISP (Internet Service Provider)
A company or organization that lets users connect to the Internet by dialing into its computers using a modem. ISPs typically charge a fee for providing a dial-up telephone number, an email address, and some technical assistance (usually via email). Also called an IPP. See also online service.
IP (Internet Protocol) Address
An IP address is a number that identifies a particular server or user on the Internet. These numbers consist of four set of numbers between 0 and 255 such as 123.45.67.8 and are the basis for any transfer of information over the Internet.
Intranet
A computer network that functions like the Internet using web browser software to access and process the information that employees need, but the information and web pages are located on computers within a company. A firewall is usually used to block access from outside the Intranet.
IPP (Internet Presence Provider)
A company that allows individuals or other companies to use their server space to host web sites. Nearly every ISP is an IPP, so you don't hear this term very often.
Java
Invented at Sun Computers, Java is a programming language like C++. The advantage of using Java is that almost all computer systems, and most browsers, have the capability of running Java applications, or applets. Java programs are automatically downloaded and executed on the client side by the web browser. You can do lots of things in Java that you can't do in HTML. Not to be confused with JavaScript.
Java Applet
Java applets are small Java programs that get downloaded to your computer and then run from a web browser when a web page that uses Java is loaded.
JavaScript
Netscape's extension to HTML. It's a scripting language that is built onto an HTML document, as opposed to a Java applet which is a separate piece of code which is downloaded to your browser when accessed. JavaScript is controlled by Netscape and licensed to other browser manufacturers like Microsoft, which is why some JavaScript implementations don't work right on Microsoft's Internet Explorer.
Microsoft, invented it's own scripting language called VBscript based on Visual Basic. They also use a JavaScript subset called JScript. A script composed in one language cannot be interpreted in another. None of these actually have anything at all to do with Java. Netscape licensed the name from Sun and redubbed their scripting language which was originally called LiveScript.
JPG or JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
The second Internet graphic standard. JPEGs allow for a greater depth of color than GIF images. They can contain millions of colors with smaller file sizes than other formats. JPEGs can be compressed using various quality settings. The higher the compression, the smaller the file, but the lower the resulting quality.
JSP
Java Server Pages (.jsp) make use of special code on UNIX web servers to create web pages. Generally used in large e-commerce websites.
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol)
An open standard for programs to store and retrieve names, addresses, email, phone numbers, and other information from an online directory. LDAP is used to build online directories on intranet networks, as well as Internet-based online directories.
Localization
The process of adapting a computer program for a specific international market, which includes translating the user interface into a foreign language, resizing dialog boxes to fit the new language, customizing features if necessary, and testing results to ensure that the original program still works.
META Tags
META tags always go in the <HEAD> section of the document. META NAME tags include descriptions and keywords. This HTML code helps some search engines classify and rank a web page. META HTTP-EQUIV tags can indicate to the web browser how to display the page. There are many more uses for META tags.
MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions)
A method of attaching multimedia files (images, audio, video) or an application to an email message, which would otherwise only be capable of transmitting ASCII characters. Most servers and email clients are now MIME compliant.
Modem
A modulator demodulator, or device that allows a computer to receive and transmit data over standard telephone lines. A modem takes digital data and converts it to analog data, and the modem at the other end takes the analog data and converts it back to digital. Most computers use modems to connect to the Internet and the World Wide Web.
MySQL
The MySQL® database is the world's most popular open source database and runs on more than 20 platforms including Linux, Windows, OS/X, HP-UX, AIX, and Netware.
NNTP (Network News Transfer Protocol)
The open Internet standard for newsgroup discussions. Allows users to access Internet newsgroups and integrate them with discussion forums.
Online Service
A company that allows computer users to connect to the Internet by dialing into its computers using a modem. Similar to ISPs, these services also offer features and online content available only to members.
Platform
A computer operating system such as Sun, Unix, Windows, or Macintosh.
Plug-ins
Small applications that add new functionality, multimedia, or audio-video capability to a program.
POP3 (Post Office Protocol, version 3)
A POP3 server acts as your email Post Office. You use an email client, like Eudora or those built-in to Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer, to retrieve your mail to your local drive using the POP3 protocol.
Port
To translate a computer application into another computer languages o it can be read on another operating system, or platform.
PSAPI (Presentation Space Application Programming Interface)
A protocol for accessing an IBM host. Java support for PSAPI allows developers to establish connections to an IBM host without launching a terminal window.
PROFS
The messaging protocol used for IBM mainframe-based email systems. Support for PROFS (which stands for Professional Office System) allows Netscape Messenger to exchange email with corporate email systems.
Push
A software program that retrieves information from web sites and deposits a copy on the user's computer to view offline. This is in contrast to traditional pull technology, where the user must manually seek and find information on the World Wide Web. See also channel.
RTP (Real-Time Transfer Protocol)
A protocol that provides support for applications with real-time properties, including timing construction, loss detection, and security and content-identification.
RSS
RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is basically just a simple code like xml or html, that allows website owners to send out or syndicates a site's contents. RSS is usually associated with Blogs and Blogging because Blogs use RSS Feeds to syndicate their contents.
Real Time
At the same time, simultaneously. An event where two or more people communicate simultaneously, similar to the way people speak on a telephone at the same time. This is in contrast to time-shifting, where one person leaves a message and the other person responds later.
Rich Text
Email formatting that allows the viewer to read underlined, bold, italics, colored text, and different sizes and type styles. Also known as HTML email.
Search Engine
A web-based program that allows users to search and retrieve specific information from the World Wide Web. The search engine may search the full text of web documents or a list of keywords, or use librarians who review web documents and index them manually for retrieval. Here is more information on search engines.
S/MIME (Secure Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)
A standard for sending and receiving encrypted mail. Developed by RSA Data Security, S/MIME enables browsers to send encrypted messages and authenticate the originator of received messages.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
A high-level security protocol for protecting the confidentiality and security of data while it is being transmitted through the Internet. Used by most commerce servers on the World Wide Web. Based on RSA Data Security's public-key cryptography, SSL is an open protocol that has been submitted to several industry groups as the industry security standard. Denoted by the letters HTTPS in the URL.
Server
Computer hardware and software that is attached to a network and which automatically stores, processes, and transmits data or information that is generally accessed by many people using client programs. A standard language is used to define this client-server interaction.
Shareware
Copyrighted software that is distributed over the Internet or from one satisfied user to another user. No fee is charged for trying the program, but the user is expected to pay a donation to the owner and tell others about the program if he or she continues to use it.
SPAM
Although SPAM is technically something else, it usually refers to unsolicited e-mail. Unsolicited e-mail is any email message received where the recipient did not specifically ask for it. Here's some good information on unsolicited e-mail or try Network Abuse Clearinghouse or CAUCE.
SMTP(Standard Mail Transfer Protocol )
The standard mail protocol for sending email over intranets and the Internet.
Style Sheets
Extensions to standard HTML that allow designers to control multiple web page styles from a single file. Used to predefine page elements such as font size, color, and style; image placement; and background images, and have the same style applied to a series of web pages.
TCP-IP (Transmission Control Protocol - Internet Protocol)
A common method of assigning addresses on a network so that different types of server operating systems can all communicate regardless of any other communications protocol also in effect. In other words, you may be using a PC running Windows 95, connecting to an ISP running UNIX which, in turn, attaches to the Internet. If all three are running TCP-IP (which they are) than they can all talk to each other.
Telnet
A program used by webmasters to communicate with UNIX servers.
Usenet
a.k.a. Internet Newsgroups or simply Newsgroups. Most major browsers have a built-in newsreader. A newsgroup is like a community bulletin board about a particular subject. There are Newsgroups on just about every subject imaginable.
Upload
To send a copy of a file from a client to a server using a modem.
URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
A World Wide Web address. Every page on every web site on every web server has a unique URL. You can see the URL of a web page in the address or location field in your browser. This term has recently been superseded by URI, or Uniform Resource Identifier. Also known as an Internet address or web address.
User-Friendly Newsgroup Names
Instead of using traditional cryptic naming conventions, such as "mcom.airius.design4000," user-friendly newsgroup names let users use real-life titles for their discussion groups, such as "Arius 4000 Design Issues."
User Interface
The part of a computer program that displays on the screen for the user to see. Also used to describe how humans interact with what they see on the computer screen. A good user interface makes it easy for users to do what they want to do. See also graphical user interface.
UUENCODE and UUDECODE
Unix-to-Unix encode and Unix-to-Unix decode. Programs that encode or decode binary information, such as graphic images or document files, to be sent over the Internet.
VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language)
VRML is a language for assembling and displaying virtual visual worlds, usually in three dimensions.
WAV
A standard protocol for voicemail messaging. (WAV stands for Waveform Audio.)
Web Browser
A software application used to make navigating the Internet easy for the user by providing a graphical user interface (or GUI) so the user can click menus, icons, or buttons rather than learning difficult computer commands. Also called a web client because the browser application resides on the client, or the computer of the individual using it, rather than residing on a web server.
Web Host
A company that allows individuals or other companies to use their server space to host web sites.
Webmaster
The person in charge of implementing and modifying a web site.
Web Page
A single document on the World Wide Web that is specified by a unique address or URL and that contains text, hyperlinks, and graphics.
Web Server
Computer hardware where web pages are stored and accessed by others using web client software, or the computer software that allows the user to access the web pages. See also server.
Web Site
A group of similar web pages linked by hyperlinks and managed by a single company, organization, or individual. A web site may include text, graphics, audio and video files, and hyperlinks to other web pages.
WWW or W3: World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is sometimes considered the graphical interface for the Internet, which is the network itself. Sometimes the web sites and their pages are called the World Wide Web. Often the two terms WWW and Internet are used interchangeably.

Also know as the web. A portion of the Internet that is composed of web servers that provide access to web sites and web documents.

The most important feature of the WWW is its inherent ability to link to any other part of the web. These links are sometimes called hyperlinks.
WYSIWYG
What you see is what you get. To display a document being edited exactly the same way it will be displayed on the web or in print.
XML
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a standardized way for web page authors to present information.
XHTML
XHTML is a more standardized way for web page authors to write HTML using XML standards.
 
Here's a much more comprehensive Internet glossary.
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