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Webmaster Glossary

If you don’t keep up to date on all the wacky new four-letter words and jargon being made up every day, you’ll soon start confusing your SGMLs with your XMLs and whatnot. To prevent this embarrassing mishap, look down here for every definition you’ll ever need.

Clock This page was last updated on 2012-08-21

ADSL — Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line

A new standard of Internet connection which allows very large download speeds over your existing phone line by utilising the high-frequency ability of the existing infrastructure.

ASCII — American Standard Code for Information Interchange

This is the standardised code used by computers to recognise letters and numbers by groups of seven 1s and 0s (called binary code). Gradually being superceded by » Unicode, which allows a much wider number of symbols to be encoded. There are several ‘artists’ on the net who make pictures out of letters and punctuation, resulting in ASCII art.

ASP — Active Server Page

» Microsoft made this scripting language, and you need to run it off one of their servers. It allows dynamic page generation.


This is a command that goes inside a tag to further define what the tag does. More info is available in the basic tutorials.

AVI — Audio/Video Interleaved

One of several compression techniques (this one’s by Microsoft) for Internet video with sound.


The speed that information can travel, measured in kilobits per second (kbps). Some servers will have better bandwidth than others, allowing quicker access and more users at a time. Large files consume lots of bandwidth as they download. Think of it as a pipe — only a certain amount of information can fit through at a time.

BMP — BitMaP

This is the file extension for saving Windows bitmap files (used by primitive programs like Microsoft Paint). A bitmap is an image that is made up of lots of rows of little dots. A GIF is another type of bitmap, but is a better format for the web than normal BMPs.
pronounce it: ‘bimp’


The program you use to view webpages. You’re more than likely reading this through one right now. They translate, or interpret HTML code into the page you see. The most common are Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), and Netscape Navigator (NN). There are also text-only browsers, used for speedy information gathering.


A place on your hard drive where downloaded pages are stored temporarily, which means that pages don’t need to be downloaded again if you press the ’Back’ button for example, or if you are reading offline.
pronounce it: ‘cash’

CGI — Common Gateway Interface

This is one way of creating dynamic pages, like when you fill out a form and on the next page the information you entered is displayed. They’re used in Search Engines too. They are scripts which are placed on the server, usually in a directory called the “cgi-bin”, which stands for binary. CGI scripts are usually written in PERL, a programming language; which we have tutorials up for in the CGI Scripting section.

CSS — Cascading Style Sheets

Stylesheets are the hottest thing in web design since they were introduced a few years back. They give you huge control over your design, and with a few small changes, you could change the look of your whole site. Only more recent browsers support them, but now about 90% of web users can see them, so you should use them in your site. To find out how, read our stylesheets section.

DHTML — Dynamic HTML

This is what a page is often called if it uses a combination of both CSS and JavaScript. It is often used to create a highly interactive page that changes as you browse through it. Need to have DHTML Explained for you in more depth?

ECMAScript — European Computer Manufacturer’s Association Script.

This is what we’re going to be calling JavaScript in the future. Otherwise it’s pretty much the same as before.

Email — Electronic Mail

Everyone knows how to send and receive emails, right? Otherwise, you’re probably in way over your head here. Want to get in  contact with me?

File Extensions

This is the 3 or 4 letter suffix at the end of any filename. For instance, this page is called glossary.html, with the .html bit being the extension. It tells the computer what type of file it is and therefore, what program to use to open it. You can learn how to save as a .html file, see a list of commonly-met file formats on the Internet, or check out the web’s most popular image formats.

FTP — File Transfer Protocol

A common way that files are moved from one computer to another. If you want to put your website up on the web, you generally need to FTP it up onto a server. To get a worthy program, head over to the Software Review page.

GIF — Graphics Interchange Format

This is the most popular graphics format on the Internet (along with JPEG). It was made by CompuServe, is limited to a palette of 256 colours, and is generally the best format for simple graphics. For a complete profile of this format, head over to the image formats page.
pronounce it: ‘jif’

GUI — Graphical User Interface

This is the part of a program you see — the icons, buttons and menus are all parts of the interface. Everything that surrounds this page in your browser is all interface that allows you to interact with the program.

HEX — HEXadecimal

The format of colours on the web. If you are telling a browser to make a background white, for example, you write background="#ffffff". You could say background="white", but some browsers wouldn’t know what you’re talking about, so expressing colours in HEX is better.

Hex codes are 3 groups of two numbers, which in turn signify the amount of Red, Green and Blue in the colour, hence “RGB”. These are the three primary colours of light. The range is 0 to 9 plus A to F. So, 0 means none (therefore #000000 is pure black; while f means full, resulting in white). With this knowledge, you can now create tonnes of colours by changing numbers. Although, some look better than others at all colour depths — these are the 216 safe colours.

HTML — HyperText Mark-up Language

HTML is the language you’re here to learn. Get the full picture in What is HTML?. “HyperText” is the way you surf the net — by clicking on links to travel between pages, and therefore travelling to sites that are located elsewhere in the world at a click of a mouse. This text is called hyper, because presumably, it’s text that has gone quite mad. “Markup” denotes the way you format documents, by marking up tags around the text; and “language”, because HTML coders like to boast at parties that they are "very multilingual". Or something.

HTML revolves around the standards made by the » W3C (World Wide Web Consortium); and so far we are up to version 4 of these standards (hence HTML 4).

HTTP — HyperText Transfer Protocol

The rules (called a protocol) on how a webpage goes between the website and your computer.

IE — Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer is a popular browser, made by Microsoft. For more, or to download, go to » Microsoft’s IE page.

IP — Internet Protocol

IP Addresses are a set of 12 numbers, arranged in sets of 3 (e.g. that are the ’name’ of a computer connected to the Internet. When you enter an Internet address into your browser, the computer checks what IP number goes with that address — the address you enter is just an easier way to remember sites, and is called a domain name.

ISDN — Integrated Services Digital Network

A digital upgrade of your phone line, which downloads up to twice as fast as a modern modem — around 128 kbps. It’s moderately expensive, and not available everywhere. If you have the option, ADSL is a better connection.

ISP — Internet Service Provider

Your ISP is the company that you ring to connect to the Internet. Common and popular examples would be AOL, CompuServe, or BT. They generally also offer you more features than just Internet access, like email and webspace.


Java is a programming language developed at Sun Microsystems, used to write programs and small-scale applications called “Applets”, which can be used in a website and induce powerful animation effects, reflections and other more crazy magical effects.

JPEG — Joint Photographic Experts Group

The image file format best suited to photographs, due to its ability to handle colour transitions well and compress complicated photos into a smaller size. It is 24-bit, and capable of showing millions of colours. Find out more.
pronounce it: ‘jay-peg’

JS — JavaScript

Not formally linked to Java, this is a scripting language that is coded into your page (unlike Java), and is used primarily for increased interactivity and special effects not possible with plain HTML. Go to our JavaScript section and add some tricks to your repertoire.

KBPS — KiloBytes Per Second

The speed at which you are downloading a thousand (kilo-) bytes of information. For example, a 28.8 kbps modem can transfer 28800 bits a second. A bit is a single 1 or 0, and a byte = 8 bits. Confusing, eh?

MPEG — Motion Picture Experts Group

Another compression technique for video and audio. Over time, there have been versions, called ‘layers’. One such layer was MPEG Layer 3, which was shortened to MP3, a very popular music format.

NN — Netscape Navigator

Netscape Navigator used to be a popular Internet browser, which was originally based on the Mosaic browser, which contributed greatly to the popularity of the web a long time ago. It has been overshadowed by much better browsers since.

PHP — PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor

PHP is a simple and widely-used scripting language that can be used to create dynamic websites. First, a .php page is processed by the server and them put together into a HTML page that can be displayed in a browser. More info at »

Pixel — picture element

A pixel is the smallest area that can be displayed on a monitor. Pictures are made up of lines of different-coloured pixels. Your screen resolution is the amount of pixels your monitor is displaying at a time.

PNG — Portable Network Graphic

The rightful successor to the GIF image format, PNGs sport better compression efficiency, a wider possible palette, and just plain betterness. Only the more recent browsers support them so far, but they’ll become mainstream soon. Learn more.
pronounce it: ‘ping’


A piece of text that either gives commands to your web-browser (in the languages of JavaScript and VBScript), or to your web-server (in CGI scripts).

SE — Search Engine

Search engines are websites that build up huge indexes of the Internet. Popular examples are Google, MSN or Ask Jeeves. We have a complete list of the popular search engines over there.


A server is a computer connected to a network that offers some service to users, such as file storage. In terms of websites, the server your site is stored on is a computer permanently connected to the Internet that you upload your website files to. The server will then send your webpages and other files to visitors as they connect to your site. Servers can become overloaded with visitors (their bandwidth is depleted) and stop allowing people in, which is why you sometimes are stopped from getting into websites.

SGML — Standard Generalised Markup Language

This is HTML’s daddy, as HTML is a set group of tags that is unchanging. SGML contains an infinite number of tags as it is customisable. It is defined as “the international standard for the publication and delivery of electronic information”. Very helpful... Here, try » this link out.


Also known as ‘junk email’, this is bulk email sent out to thousands of addresses at a time, usually advertising a site or product. The hateable thing about it is that no-one asks for it, you just get it and it clogs up your inbox. Advice: don’t do it.


Tags are the fundamental parts of HTML. they are the pieces of code, like <b> to make bold text for example. Check out some basic stuff.

TCP-IP — Transmission Control Protocol - Internet Protocol

On the Internet, some computers are connected through Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and some through Internet Protocol (IP). Used in conjunction they form TCP-IP. This is a standard for connecting to the net. Therefore, your computer can connect through any other computer that uses TCP-IP, which most do.


This is a connection capable of 1,544,000 bits a second. The speed goes up to T-3, which is capable of shifting 44,736,000 bits/second. Zoom!


An operating system used only by the odd traditional bearded computer professor. Otherwise mainly for web-servers these days. The increasingly popular Linux operating system is based on UNIX.

URL — Uniform Resource Locator

That’s techie jargon for the address of a page. For instance, the url of this page is It tells you the protocols (http:// or ftp://), and then the path to the file and the file’s name. You can see the address of whatever page you’re reading by looking in the address bar in your browser.

VRML — Virtual Reality Modelling Language

This is a largely unused Internet technology which lets you explore 3D worlds. Communities have been set up where you walk through virtual towns talking to people. There’s a VRML manual if you’re interested.


If you own or take care of a website, you now can proudly call yourself a webmaster. This is also the guy to get on to if you need to contact any site you’re on.

WWW — World Wide Web

The name given to the vast library of Internet sites hosted by and served to the network of computers joined together which form the Internet and allow web browsing.

WYSIWYG — What You See Is What You Get

This is the term used to describe the HTML editors that give you a graphical representation of what you’re coding. A highly popular example is » DreamWeaver.
pronounce it: ‘wizzy-wig’

XHTML — eXtensible Hypertext Markup Language

This is a real effort to clean up code creation by making the rules of coding very strict. It is a new standard of HTML (after HTML 4.0) and in essence bridges the gap between HTML and the more powerful XML, below. It won’t take off for a while, but read XHTML Explained and get ready for the future.

XML — eXtensible Markup Language

This is a markup language separate from HTML, which is extensible — i.e. you can make up your own tags and so create your own structure. It involves changing how your browser interprets tags. This is highly advanced stuff, so you probably should stop caring right now.