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frequently asked questions
glossary of internet terms
glossary of internet terms
Click on a letter to go directly to terms starting with that character.
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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
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.
and executes on the end user's computer rather than executing on the server.
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.
Bin Hex [top]
A file format commonly used in sending large files and images over the
A graphic image stored as a specific arrangement of screen dots, or pixels.
Web graphics are bitmap images. The graphic is defined by specifying the
colors of dots or pixels which make up the picture. Also known as raster
graphics. Common types of bitmap graphics are GIF, JPEG, Photoshop, PCX,
TIFF, Macintosh Paint, Microsoft Paint, BMP, PNG, FAX formats, and TGA.
Blog (weB LOG)
A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity
of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog
is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software
that allows people with little or no technical background to update and
maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in cronological
order with the most recent additions featured most prominantly.
A way for web browser users to mark a web page they want to return to
Browser safe colours
The 216 colours that will not get dithered on monitors that only display
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
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.
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.
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.
A computer program that is downloaded from a server and executed or run
of client-side programs.
Commands and Filters
Commands and filters allow users to prioritise and organise 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.
Stands for the colors Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black. In print design, colors
are defined as a percentage of each of these 4 colors. For example, the
CMYK abbreviation for the color black would be 0-0-0-100. In contrast,
display devices (i.e. computer monitors) typically define colors using
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
through a web catalogue. 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.
A method of packing data in order to save disk storage space or download
time. JPEGs are generally compressed graphics files. Compression is a
technique to make a file or a data stream smaller, for faster transmission
or to take up less storage space.
Digital Certificates [top]
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 work just like paper-and-ink signatures, allowing document
recipients to confirm the source of a document. Digital signatures are
generated by digital certificates.
When a colour that is not browser safe is displayed, two browser safe
colours are mixed (or alternated) to create the desired colour. At a distance,
the human eye merges the pixels into a single color. Up close, the graphic
image will appear pixelated and speckled.
All servers on the Internet have a TCP-IP address that consists of a set
of four numbers like 126.96.36.199 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.
To receive a copy of a file from another computer or web server using
A web document that is created from a database in real-time 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) [top]
Conducting business online, including product display, online ordering,
secure transactions and inventory management.
A method of encoding messages to provide privacy for email, discussion
group postings, and other communications as they move over intranets or
A specialised virtual community created by linking business groups via
the World Wide Web. Similar to an intranet, an extranet includes outside
sellers and uses web technology to facilitate inter business transactions,
such as placing and checking orders, tracking merchandise, and making
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) [top]
A list of facts about a specific subject. Usually presented in a question
and answer format.
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.
On web pages, a 'frame'refer to a part of the screen which is reserved
for a particular purpose.
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) [top]
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 colours
and look best when using the 216 browser safe colours.
GUI (Graphical User Interface)
A user interface that displays in graphic or pictorial format rather than
in text only.
When you define colours for backgrounds, links, fonts and whatever else
in HTML, you can either define them with a word (i.e. "white")
or the hexadecimal equivalent. Hex uses a numbering system with a base
of 16. The first ten digits are 0-9 and the next six are A-F. The hexadecimal
notation represents each RGB (red, green & blue) component of a colour
in two characters, 00 to FF, rather than three characters, 000 to 256.
The hexadecimal equivalent of white is 000000, and black is FFFFFF.
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.
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 colour, 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.
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 colour and may also be underlined.
A text hyperlink that has already been visited is usually displayed in
a different colour.
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.
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.
IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol )
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 organisation that lets users connect to the Internet by dialling
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.
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 188.8.131.52 and are the basis for any transfer of
information over the Internet.
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.
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
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.
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
is controlled by Netscape and licensed to other browser manufacturers
right on Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Microsoft, invented it's own scripting
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 colour than GIF images. They can contain millions of colours 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.
LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) [top]
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.
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
In graphic design, lossless compression refers to a data compression technique
where the file quality is preserved and no data is lost. Lossless compression
is commonly used on GIF images, but can only reduce file size to about
half of its original size. Lossy compression, by contrast, eliminates
some data and can further decrease the file size.
A term coined by graphics programmers to refer to a technique of shrinking
file sizes by giving away some precision of detail. JPEG is an example
of a file that is compressed this way. By reducing the so-called quality
of a picture when you save it, you can make the file size smaller. Many
photos can take of loss of fine detail before it becomes noticeable on
a web page.
META Tags [top]
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.
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 analogue data, and the modem at the other end takes
the analogue data and converts it back to digital. Most computers use
modems to connect to the Internet and the World Wide Web.
A company that allows computer users to connect to the Internet by dialling
into its computers using a modem. Similar to ISPs, these services also
offer features and online content available only to members.
PDF (Portable Document Format) [top]
Created by Adobe Systems in its software program Adobe Acrobat as a universal
browser. Files can be downloaded via the web and viewed page by page,
provided the user is computer has installed the necessary plug-in which
can be downloaded from Adobe's own web site.
A computer operating system such as Sun, Unix, Windows, or Macintosh.
Small applications that add new functionality, multimedia, or audio-video
capability to a program.
PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
PNG is used for lossless compression and displaying images on the web.
The advantages of PNG is that it supports images with millions of colors
and produces background transparency without jagged edges. The disadvantages
are that PNG images will not show up on older browsers, and still can
be comparatively larger in file size than GIFs.
POP (Post Office Protocol)
A POP 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 POP protocol.
To translate a computer application into another computer languages o
it can be read on another operating system, or platform.
PPI (pixels per inch)
PPI specifies the resolution of an input device, such as a scanner, digital
camera, or monitor. Web page resolution ranges from 72-96 pixels per inch.
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.
Stands for the colors Red-Green-Blue. In web design and design for computer
monitors, colors are defined in terms of a combination of these three
colors. For example, the RGB abbreviation for the color blue shown below
is 0-0-255. In contrast, print designers typically define colors using
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.
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.
Formatting that allows the viewer to read underlined, bold, italics, coloured
text, and different sizes and type styles.
Search Engine [top]
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. A search engine
has two parts, a spider and an indexer. The spider is the program that
fetches the documents, and the indexer reads the documents and creates
an index based on the words or ideas contained in each document.
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.
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.
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.
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 Spamcop.
SMTP(Simple Mail Transfer Protocol )
The standard mail protocol for sending email over intranets and the Internet.
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, colour, 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.
A program used by webmasters to communicate with UNIX servers.
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.
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.
A graphic image drawn in shapes and lines, called paths. Images created
in Illustrator and Freehand (graphic design software) are vector graphics.
They are usually exported to be bitmap images.VRML (Virtual Reality Markup
A language for assembling and displaying virtual visual worlds, usually
in three dimensions.
A standard protocol for voicemail messaging. (WAV stands for Waveform
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.
A company that allows individuals or other companies to use their server
space to host web sites.
The person in charge of implementing and modifying a web site.
A single document on the World Wide Web that is specified by a unique
address or URL and that contains text, hyperlinks, and graphics.
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.
A group of similar web pages linked by hyperlinks and managed by a single
company, organisation, 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.
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.
XHTML (Extensible Hypertext Mark-up Language)
XHTML s a hybrid of XML and HTML. Web pages designed in XHTML should look
the same across all platforms.
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