Web Development Glossary

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Web Development Glossary

In this section of our glossary, you can find definitions and explanations of a number commonly used web development terms to help make it simpler to understand the work that we do to build web applications.


The .htaccess file is the default directory-level configuration file on Apache servers. They are also known as “distributed configuration files.” Configuration directives contained in the .htaccess file apply to the directory in which the file is placed as well as all of its subdirectories. Within the .htaccess file things like authorization and authentication, rewriting of URLs, cache control and customized error responses can all be specified.


Is an acronym for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML. AJAX is typically used for creating dynamic web applications and allows for asynchronous data retrieval without having to reload the page a visitor is on. The JavaScript on a given page handles most of the basic functions of the application, making it perform more like a desktop program instead of a web-based one.

Back End

The back end of a website is the part hidden from view of regular website visitors. The back end usually includes the information structure, applications, and the CMS controlling text on the site.


Bandwidth can refer to two different things: the rate at which data can be transferred or the total volume of data allowed to be transferred from a web host during a given month (or other hosting service term) before overage charges are applied. It is usually referred to in term of bits-per-second (bps), kilobits per second (kbs), or other metric measurements. Lower bandwidth internet connections (such as dial-up) mean data loads slower than with high bandwidth connections (like cable or fiber).


A browser is the program a website visitor is using to view the web site. Examples include Safari, Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera, and Internet Explorer.


Cached files are those that are saved or copied (downloaded) by a web browser so that the next time that user visits the site, the page loads faster.


Client-side is when scripts that are run in a viewer’s browser, instead of on a web server (as in server-side scripts). Client-side scripts are usually faster to interact with, though they can take longer to load initially.

CSS Framework

A CSS framework is a collection of CSS files used as the starting point to make XHTML and CSS web sites quickly and painlessly. They usually contain CSS styles for typography and layout.


Deprecated code is code which is no longer included in the language specifications. usually this happens because it is replaced with more accessible or efficient alternatives.


Is an acronym for Dynamic HyperText Markup Language. DHTML fuses XHTML (or any other markup language), the DOM, JavaScript (or other scripts), and CSS (or other presentation definition languages) to create interactive web text.


Is an acronym for Domain Name Service (alternately Domain Name System or Domain Name Server). Simply put, it is the thing that converts IP addresses into domain names. DNS servers are provided with the IP address of your web server when you assign your domain name to those servers. In turn, when someone types your domain name into their web browser, those DNS servers translate the domain name to the IP address and point the browser to the correct web server.


The doctype declaration specifies which version of HTML is used in a document. It has a direct effect on whether your HTML will validate.


The Is an acronym for Document Object Model. it is a language-indpendent, cross-platform convention for representing objects in XML, XHTML, and HTML documents. Rules for interacting with and programming the DOM are specified in the DOM API.


The domain is the name by which a website is identified. The domain is associated with an IP address. Domains can be purchased with any combination of letters, hyphens (-), and numbers (though it cannot start with a hyphen). Depending on the extension (.com, .net, .org, etc.), a domain can be anywhere up to 26 to 63 characters long.

Doorway (Gateway)

A web page that is designed specifically to attract traffic from a search engine. A doorway page which redirects users (but not spiders) to another site or page is implementing cloaking. – Previous Definition revised based upon advice from Michael Martinez


Is an acronym for Document Type Definition. DTD is one of several SGML and XML schema languages. It provides a list of the attributes, comments, elements, entities, and notes in a document along with their relationships to each other.

Extensible Markup Language

Otherwise known as XML. XML is a markup language used for writing custom markup languages. That is to say, XML describes how to write new languages (it is sometimes referred to as a “meta” language because of this). It also serves as a basic syntax that allows different kinds of computers and applications to share information without having to go through multiple conversion layers.


Content which is delivered to the user via special websites or programs such as news aggregators.  There are a number of XML standards related to feeds including RSS and ATOM.


Frames are a web page design where two or more documents appear on the same screen, each within it’s own frame. Frames are bad for SEO because spiders sometimes fail to correctly navigate them. Additionally, most users dislike frames because it is almost like having two tiny monitors neither of which shows a full page of information at one time.


The front-end is Simply put the opposite of the back-end. it is all the components of a website that a visitor to the site can see (pages, pictures, text, etc.) Specifically, it is the interface that visitors use to access the site’s text. it is also sometimes referred to as the User Interface.  This is typically the part of the site that is part of a CT Web Design project by Pinpoint Digital, whereas the back end would be handled by our web development team.

Gizmo (Gadget, Widget)

Small applications used on web pages to provide specific functions such as a hit counter or IP address display. Gizmos can make good link bait.


Sometimes called a “hex” numbers, they are a base-16 numbering system used to define colors online. Hex numbers include the numerals 0-9 and letters A-F. Hexadecimal numbers are written in three sets of hex pairs. Because screen colors are RGB (Red, Green, Blue), the first pair defines the red hue, the second pair defines the green hue, and the third pair defines the blue.


Is an acronym for Hypertext Markup Language. it is the primary language used to write web pages. HTML is primarily intended as a way to provide text on websites (with CSS handling the layout and stylistic options), though it can also be used to determine how that text is displayed.


Is an acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol. HTTP is a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between a web browser and a web server.


Similar to HTTP, HTTPS Is an acronym for HyperText Transfer Protocol over SSL (Secure Socket Layer) or, alternately, HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure. Like HTTP, it is a set of rules for transferring hypertext requests between browsers and servers, but this time it is done over a secure, encrypted connection.


A hyperlink is a link from one web page to another, either on the same site or another one. usually these are text or pictures, and are highlighted in some way (text is often underlined or put in a different color or font weight). The inclusion of hyperlinks are the “hyper” part of “hypertext.”


Hypertext is any computer-based text that includes hyperlinks. Hypertext can also include presentation devices like tables or pictures, in addition to plain text and links.


Short for Inline Frame. An iframe is used to display one or more web pages within another normal web page (one which is not a frameset page).


In CSS, elements that do not have a pre-defined style will take on the style of their parent element within the document tree.

Inline Style

Elements with CSS written directly around the element it affects, instead of in a separate style sheet or header style.


Is an acronym for Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP (or sometimes Perl or Python), and is referring to the specifications of a web server (defining the operating system, web server, database, and scripting language, in that order). One of the advantages of LAMP setups is that the software used is all free and open source.


This is when the coding applied to a text document to change it into an HTML, XML, or other Markup Language document.


A web page which consists primarily of single purpose software and other small programs (gizmos and gadgets) or possibly links to such programs. Mashups are quick and easy content to produce and are often popular with users, and can make good link bait. Tool collection pages are sometimes mashups.

Meta Data

Meta data is the data contained in the header that offers information about the web page that a visitor is currently on. The information contained in the meta data is not viewable on the web page (except in the source code). Meta data is contained within meta tags.

Meta Tag

A meta tag is an HTML tag used to include meta data within the header of your web page.  These are commonly used in SEO to improve click through rates, but also provide information about how content should be accessed or displayed – for example whether search engines should be allowed to visit a particular page or follow the links from it.

Open Source

Open source is when the source code of a computer program being made available to the general public. Open source software includes both web-based and desktop applications. Open source programs are usually free or very low cost and are developed by teams of people, sometimes comprised mostly of volunteers.

Plug In

A plug-in is a piece of third party code that extends the capabilities of a website. it is most often used in conjunction with a CMS or blogging platform. Plug-ins are a way to extend the functionality of a website without having to redo the core coding of the site. Plugins can also refer to bits of third-party software installed within a computer program to increase its functionality.


A web service which offers a wide array of features to entice users to make the portal their “home page” on the web. IGoogle, Yahoo, and MSN are portals.

Progressive Enhancement

Progressive enhancement is a strategy for web design that uses web technologies in a layered fashion that allows everyone to access the basic text and functionality of a web page, using any browser or Internet connection, while also providing those with better bandwidth or more advanced browser software an enhanced version of the page.


Property is a CSS term and is roughly equivalent to an HTML tag. Properties are what define how a style should appear on a given web page.


Smetimes called Really Simple Syndication. RSS is a standardized XML format used in many feeds that allows text to be syndicated from one site to another. it is most commonly used on blogs. RSS also allows visitors to subscribe to a blog or other site and receive updates via a feed reader.


Any of several methods used to change the address of a landing page such as when a site is moved to a new domain, or in the case of a doorway.


Uusually, a schema is an XML document used in place of a DTD to describe other XML documents.


Usually is when a portion of code on an HTML page that makes the page more dynamic and interactive. Scripts can be written in a variety of languages, including JavaScript.


In CSS, the selector is the item a style will be applied to.

Server Side

Server-side is when scripts run on a web server, as opposed to in a user’s browser. Server-side scripts often take a bit longer to run than a client-side script, as each page must reload whenn action is taken.


Is an acronym for Standard Generalized Markup Language. it is a markup language used for defining the structure of a document. SGML is not mentioned very often, but it is the markup language that serves as the basis for both XML and HTML.


Is an acronym for Simple Object Access Protocol. it is an XML-based protocol exchanging information across the internet to allow an application on one site to access an application or database on another site.


A specification is a document that offers an explicit definition and requirements for a web service or technology and usually includes how the technology is meant to be used, along with the tags, elements, and any dependencies.


A template is a file used to create a consistent design across a website. Templates are often used in conjunction with a CMS and contain both structural information about how a site should be set up, but also stylistic information about how the site should look.


Is an acronym for Uniform Resource Locator. A site’s URL is its address, the item that specifies where on the Internet it can the found.


Valid web pages are those that return no errors based on the type of HTML/XHTML specified in the doctype declaration at the start of the file. That is to say, the code used on the page conforms to the specifications for that version of HTML/XHTML. This can be checked through various validation services, most commonly the one from W3C.

Web Page

A web page is a single document, usually written in HTML/XHTML, meant to be viewed in a web browser. In many cases, web pages also include other coding and programming (such as PHP, Ruby on Rails, or ASP). Web sites are usually built from multiple interlinked web pages.

Web Server

A web server is a computer that has software installed and networking capabilities that allow it to host web sites and pages and make them available to internet users located elsewhere. There are a few different setups that can be used for a web server, including the LAMP setup mentioned earlier.

Web Standards

Standards are specifications recommended by the World Wide Web Consortium for standardizing website design. The main purpose of web standards is to make it easier for both designers and those who create web browsers to make sites that will appear consistent across platforms.


Is an acronym for Extensible Hypertext Markup Language. Simply put, XHTML is HTML 4.0 that has been rewritten to comply with XML rules.


Is an acronym for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a specification for creating other, custom markup languages. it is an extensible language because it allows for the user to define the mark-up elements.

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