If you’ve been on the web for more than a day, you’ve noticed that people tend to speak in groupings of letters that have no rational meaning—web developers use a lot of abbreviations and acronyms. In fact, in some cases, you can’t even pronounce them.
These are some of the more commonly used abbreviations (and a few acronyms) that are used on the web and in web developmet and design.
When you know what they mean, you’ll be better prepared to learn to use them.
CGI — COMMON GATEWAY INTERFACE
CGI (Common Gateway Interface) programs/scripts run on the server and are usually designed to add functionality to a web site.
CMS — CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
A content management system offers a way for a user to edit the content of a web site from within a browser-based interface, without any HTML skills required. Clemson University uses “Cascade Server” as the content management systems for most of the official University webpages.
CSS — CASCADING STYLE SHEETS
Style sheets are directives for browsers to display web pages exactly how the designer would like to display them. They allow for very specific control over the look and feel of a web page. Web sites can be built without CSS (it came many years after HTML), but CSS gives the web designer more power to control how the content is displayed. The main benefit of CSS is that it splits the content from the presentation. Site-wide style changes can be performed by editing the style sheet rather than every page individually.
DHTML — DYNAMIC HTML
DOM — DOCUMENT OBJECT MODEL
FTP — FILE TRANSFER PROTOCOL
FTP is how files are moved across the internet. You can use FTP to connect to your web server and put your web files there. You can also access files via a browser with the ftp:// protocol. If you see that in a URL it means that the file requested should be transferred to your hard drive rather than displayed in the browser.
GIF — GRAPHIC INTERCHANGE FORMAT
GIF is a popular image format for the web. The GIF format is limited to 256 colors and supports transparency, which makes it suitable for simple graphics such as logos or buttons, but not for complex graphics such as photos.
GUI — GRAPHICAL USER INTERFACE
GUI is short for graphical user interface. It’s that part of an application (or web site) that’s intended for the user. Also called the “front end”.
HTML — HYPERTEXT MARKUP LANGUAGE
Web pages are written in hypertext, this is not because the text moves quickly, but rather because it can interact (a little) with the reader. A book (or a Word document) will always stay the same each time you read it, but hypertext is meant to be easily changed and manipulated so that it can ultimately be dynamic and change on the page.
HTTP — HYPERTEXT TRANSFER PROTOCOL
You will most often see the abbreviation HTTP in a URL at the front, e.g. http://www.clemson.edu.When you see this in a URL, it means that you are asking the web server to show you a web page. HTTP is the method that the internet uses to send your web page from its home to your web browser. It is the way the “hypertext” (web page information) is transferred to your computer.
HTTPS — HTTP OVER TRANSPORT LAYER SECURITY
HTTPS is a communications protocol for secure communication over a computer network which is widely used on the internet. The main motivation for HTTPS is authentication of the visited website and protection of the privacy and integrity of the exchanged data.
JPG/JPEG — JOINT PHOTOGRAPHIC EXPERTS GROUP
JPG format is an image format that is commonly used in web site design. It’s best for images that use gradients or that contain a large number of colors, such as photos.
MP4 — MOVING PICTURE EXPERT GROUP 4
The MP4 standard was released in 1998. It builds on the earlier MPEG format, with additional features added on, notably Virtual Reality Markup Language (VRML) support.
PHP — PHP: HYPERTEXT PREPROCESSOR
PHP is a popular, general-purpose, server-side scripting language especially suited to web development. It is used extensively in web development to produce dynamic pages.
PNG — PORTABLE NETWORK GRAPHICS
PNG is an image format suitable for use on the web. It supports transparency and compression.
SEO — SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION
The act of creating or changing web pages so that their ranking in search engine results pages improve. Search engine optimization is not quite the same as search engine marketing (SEM). The latter is a collective name for all search engine marketing activities including SEO, pay per click marketing, link building etc.
URL — UNIFORM RESOURCE LOCATOR
This is the web page address. The internet works very much like the post office in that it needs an address to send information to and from. The URL is the address that the web uses. Every web page has a unique URL.
W3C — WORLD WIDE WEB CONSORTIUM
W3C’s mission is to “lead the Web to its full potential” by developing Web standards. W3C consists of a staff of technical experts, members and invited experts from the public. The larger webmaster community also has a role to play in providing input on the standards developed by W3C.
WIKI — WHERE INTERNET KNOWLEDGE INDEX
A collaborative website which can be directly edited using only a web browser, often by anyone with access to it.
WYSIWYG — WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET
A WYSIWYG HTML editor allows the web designer to work on the web site without editing the code directly. The WYSIWYG editor has a user-friendly interface which allows the designer to place images, change attributes etc. without having to write the HTML markup. It is worth noting that most WYSIWYG editors are somewhat limited and that professional designers should have a good command of the language in order to be able to edit the code directly.
XML — EXTENSIBLE MARKUP LANGUAGE
This is a markup language that allows developers to develop their own markup language. XML uses structured tags to define content in a human- and machine-readable format. It is used for maintaining websites, populating databases, and storing information for web programs.