WebDAP understands everyone is not an internet guru or a computer geek. We have a common list of technical terms and their definitions to make your visit a little easier.
Account An area partitioned for a user of a particular host computer. To assure validity, account holders cannot gain access without using assigned login and password information.
ARPANET A network created in 1969 by the U.S. Defense Department’s Advanced Projects Research Agency (ARPA) to develop a system of data communications for scientific and military operations. ARPANET adopted the TCP/IP communications standard, which defines data transfer on the Internet today.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) A transfer method that dynamically allocates bandwidth using a fixed-size packet, or cell. Also known as fast packet.
Backbone A high-speed connection within a network that links shorter (usually slower) branch circuits. An example is the NSFNet, generally considered to be the backbone of the Internet in the United States.
Bandwidth This refers to the difference (measured in Hz), between the highest and lowest frequencies of a transmission. Most people loosely refer to bandwidth as the amount of data that can be transferred over a network connection.
Browser Short for Web browser, a software application used to locate and display Web pages. The two most popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Both of these are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface) A Web server scripting standard; a mechanism used to connect script to Web servers. In the past, most CGI programs were actually script files and were often written in scripting languages like PERL. Today, scripts can also be executable programs. You can write scripts in C and Visual Basic.
Client A computer or software that requests a service of another computer system or process (a “server”). For example, a workstation requesting the contents of a file from a file server is a client of the file server. A web browser is commonly referred to as a client.
Domain A “logical” region of the Internet. People sometimes refer to them loosely as “sites.” Generally, a domain corresponds to an IP address or an area on a host.
Download To receive a file sent from another computer via modem (compare “upload”).
Dynamic Web Page Web pages that respond to users’ requests and gather information from them. Oftentimes, they have built-in links to a relational database, from which they extract data based on input from the user (using dynamic SQL). Dynamic Web pages contain very little actual text. Instead, they pull needed information from other applications. Dynamic Web pages communicate with databases to extract employee directory information, spreadsheets to display accounting figures, client-server database management systems to interact with order processing applications, and more. Because a database already exists, why re-create it for Web page publications?
Electronic Mail (Email) A method by which computer users can exchange messages with each other over a network. Email is probably the most widely-used communications tool on the Internet. There are many quirky conventions to Email, but most entail a To:, From:, and Subject: line. One of email’s advantages is its ability to be forwarded and replied to easily. If an email is badly received by a group or user, the sender is likely to get flamed.
Email Address Your email address is made up of several parts. By convention, addresses use lowercase letters with no spaces. The first part of the address, the username, identifies a unique user on a server. The @ (pronounced at) separates the username from the host name. The host name uniquely identifies the server computer and is the last part of the Internet email address (for example, our webmaster’s email address is email@example.com). Large servers, such as those used at universities or large companies sometimes contain multiple parts, called subdomains. Subdomains and the host name are separated by a period (but it’s pronounced dot). The three-letter suffix in the host name identifies the kind of organization operating the server (some locations use a two-letter geographical suffix). The most common suffixes are: .com (commercial), .edu (educational), .gov (government), .mil (military), .net (networking), and .org (non-commercial). More suffixes are under consideration. Addresses outside of the U.S. sometimes use a two-letter suffix that identifies the country in which the server is located. Some examples are: .jp (Japan), .nl (The Netherlands), .uk (United Kingdom), .ca (Canada), and .tw (Taiwan). FAQ Acronym for Frequently Asked Questions. FAQs are widely available on the Internet and usually take the form of large, instructional text files. They are written on a wide variety of topics, and are usually the most up-to-date source for specialized information.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) The most widely-used way of downloading and uploading (getting and putting) files across an Internet connection. The File Transfer Protocol is a standardized way to connect computers so that files can be shared between them easily. There is a set of commands in FTP for making and changing directories, transferring, copying, moving, and deleting files. Formerly, all FTP connections were text based, but graphical applications are now available that make FTP commands as easy as dragging and dropping. Numerous FTP clients exist for a number of platforms.
Home Page A sort of introductory WWW page or Web server at a Web site that provides hyperlinks to other Web pages.
Host A computer that is attached to a network or the Internet. Hosts allow users on client machines to connect and share files or transfer information. Individual users communicate with hosts by using client application programs.
Host Address The address of a host computer on the Internet.
Hostname The name given a host computer connected to the Internet.
Hypertext A type of text that allows embedded links to other documents. Clicking on or selecting a hypertext link displays another document or section of a document. Most World Wide Web documents contain hypertext.
Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) The standard way to mark text documents for publishing on the World Wide Web. HTML is marked-up using tags surrounded by brackets. To see what tagged HTML text looks like, select the View Source feature from the menus in the program you are using to view this document now, and you’ll see a display of the HTML text used to create this page.
InterNIC Meaning Internet information Center, InterNIC is the combined name for the providers of registration, information, and database services to the Internet. InterNIC is who you contact if you want to register a domain name on the Internet.
Internet Protocol (IP) An industry standard, connectionless, best-effort packet switching protocol used as the network layer in the TCP/IP Protocol Suite.
Internet Protocol Address (IP Address) The 32-bit address defined by the Internet Protocol. Every resource on the Internet has a unique numerical IP address, represented in dotted decimal notation. IP addresses are the closest thing the Internet has to phone numbers. When you “call” that number (using any number of connection methods such as FTP, HTTP, Gopher, etc.) you get connected to the computer to which that IP address is assigned.
Internet Service Provider (ISP) An ISP is a company that maintains a network that is linked to the Internet via a dedicated communication line, usually a high-speed link known as a T1. An ISP offers use of its dedicated communication lines to companies or individuals (like me) who can’t afford $1,300 a month for a direct connection. Using a modem, you can dial up to a service provider whose computers will connect you to the Internet, typically for a fee.
Internet A large, uncontrolled, unadministered, anarchic cyber-state that will soon take over the world! Basically, it’s just everyone’s computers hooked together. It’s not a corporation, organization, or entity in itself. When you connect to the Internet, you actually become part of it. Always capitalized, the word Internet can also be referred to colloquially as the “Net.”
LAN Acronym for Local Area Network. LANs are now commonplace in most businesses, allowing users to send email and share resources such as files, printers, modems, etc. Currently, most larger companies are connection their LANs to the Internet, allowing users to connect to resources within or outside the LAN.
Multimedia Documents or platforms that combine different kids of data (plain text, video, graphics, audio).
Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions Encoding (MIME Encoding) MIME is a standardized method for organizing divergent file formats. The method organizes file formats according to the file’s MIME type. When Internet (usually email) software retrieves a file from a server, the server provides the MIME type of the file, and the file is decoded correctly when transferred to your machine.
Netiquette The combination of the words Net and etiquette, this refers to the proper behavior on a network, and more generally the Internet. The key element in Netiquette is remembering that actual people are on the other end of a computer connection, and offensive comments or actions are just as offensive even if you can’t see your recipient.
NSFNet (National Science Foundation Network) Currently the Internet backbone network of the United States.
Online Refers to the successful connection with another computer via telephone lines or through a network.
Universal Resource Locator (URL) More commonly referred to as the URL, the Universal Resource Locator refers to the entire address that is recognized “universally” as the address for an Internet resource. Each resource on the Internet has a unique URL. URLs begin with letters that identify the resource type, such as http, ftp, gopher, etc. These types are followed by a colon and two slashes. Next, the computer’s name is listed, followed by the directory and filename of the remote resource. For example, the URL for this glossary is /glossary.html.
Post Office Protocol (POP) A protocol designed to allow single users to read mail from a server. There are three versions: POP, POP2, and POP3. When email is sent to you, it is stored on the server until accessed by you. Once you are authenticated, the POP is used to transmit the stored mail from the server to your local mailbox on your client machine.
Protocol Simply, the “language” spoken between computers to help them exchange information. More technically, it’s a formal description of message formats and the rules that two computers must follow to exchange those messages. Protocols can describe low-level details of machine-to-machine interfaces (like the order in which bits and bytes are sent across a wire) or high-level exchanges between allocation programs (the way in which two programs transfer a file across the Internet).
Router A device that forwards traffic between networks. Forwarding decisions are made based on network layer information and routing tables, often constructed by routing protocols.
Search Engine A WWW site that serves as an index to other sites on the Web. Some of the more popular search engines are “Starting Point”, “Yahoo”, and “Lycos”. Search engines are relatively easy to use. Normally, they contain references to common subject areas that you can point-and-click to connect to other links, that connect to other links, and so on. They also give you the opportunity to type in key words (by themselves, or in combination) to begin a search. Click here for an example of how a search works.
Server Simply, a computer that provides resources, such as files or other information. Common Internet servers include file servers and name servers Domain Name Service.
Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) A protocol used to transfer email. SMTP transfers mail from server to server, and the end user must use POP (see also Post Office Protocol) to transfer the messages to their machine.
SQL (Structured Query Language) Call it “sequel” (not “S – Q – L”) if you want any respect from programmers. A standardized language that is used to define and manipulate data in a database server. SQL is a standardized query language for requesting information from a database. The original version called SEQUEL (structured English query language) was designed by an IBM research center in 1974 and 1975. Oracle Corporation first introduced SQL as a commercial database system in 1979. SQL is used to extract specified data from a relational database.
T1 One of AT&T’s terms used to denote the type of connection of a host to the Internet. A T1 transmits a DS-1 formatted digital signal at 1.544 megabits per second.
T3 One of AT&T’s terms used to denote the type of connection of a host to the Internet. A T3 transmits a DS-3 formatted digital signal at 44.746 megabits per second – about 40 times the speed of a T1.
Upload To send or transmit a file from one computer to another via modem (compare “download”).
Web Browser A software application (either text-based or graphical) that lets you browse the world wide web (WWW). Examples are: Spry Mosaic, Netscape Navigator, and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Web Server A program that serves up Web pages upon request.
World Wide Web (WWW or W3) The Web is a collection of online documents housed on Internet servers around the world. The concept of the Web was created by researchers at CERN in Switzerland. Web documents are written or coded in HTML. To access these documents, you have to use a Web browser. When these browsers access (or hit) a page, the server uses the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to send the document to your computer.
If you would like to see other terms listed in the glossary, let us know.