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Terms You Should Know
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Terms You Should Know

A program such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer which allows a user to navigate the Internet and view HTML documents on their computer. Modern browsers support text, images, sound, video and animations that have been prepared for the internet.

Cascading Style Sheets
Style sheets describe how documents are presented on screens, in print, or perhaps how they are pronounced. W3C has actively promoted the use of style sheets on the Web since the Consortium was founded in 1994. The Style Activity has produced several W3C Recommendations (CSS1, CSS2, XPath, XSLT). CSS especially is widely implemented in browsers.

By attaching style sheets to structured documents on the Web (e.g. HTML), authors and readers can influence the presentation of documents without sacrificing device-independence or adding new HTML tags.

Cookies are pieces of information generated by a Web server and stored in the user's computer, ready for future access. Cookies were designed to allow user-side customization of Web information including page personalizations, one-time participation contests and surveys, and to store shopping lists of items a user has selected while browsing through a virtual shopping mall.

There is some fear among web users about cookies, but probably the fears are without merit. Cookie information is information that you voluntarily provide through your keyboard and is not the result of some unexpected exploring of your hard drive by the web server. Most browsers allow you to set a preference to be notified of cookie requests - a great way to learn when and how they are used.

A database is a compendium of information categorized by its individual components. A properly constructed database is easy to sort with a variety of variables. The internet uses databases to sort out inventories of products, lists of addresses and to provide internet surfers with specific information they request. Some format types you may hear in regard to databases are Microsoft Access, FileMaker Pro, dBase, SQL and Cold Fusion.

Document Object Model
The Document Object Model defines the properties and methods for the various elements on an HTML page. By modifying the properties of HTML elements on a page via client-side scripting, using JavaScript for example, you can make your pages interactive.

Domain Name
A form of URL (uniform resource locator) assigned to a web site. A custom domain is the unique name assigned to an internet address and registered to a specific company or individual. Example: is a custom domain name registered to Hamilton & Bond Advertising, Inc. Other examples are (Apple Computer) or (University of Illinois at Urbana).

Domain Name Registrar
Internet domain names are purchased through ICANN authorized registrars. Internet identification of websites is made possible by the combination of domain names and Internet Protocol IP numeric addressess. The most popular domain names end in .com, however many variants are now available. Trademarks and domain names are not the same thing and are adminstered by unrelated entities.

Drop Down Menu
A menu on the internet which allows you to click your mouse on a button and view a list of selections, each of which links you to a different page or database query.

Dynamic HTML (DHTML)
Dynamic HTML is the name given by both Netscape and Microsoft to the use of the Document Object Model, Cascading Style Sheets, and client-side scripting designed to make Web pages more interactive. By using these technologies, developers can make their Web pages change on-the-fly and interact with users without having to reload.

E-commerce essentially refers to websites capable of allowing users to shop and to buy without intervention by a sales representative. Typically such purchases are made with credit card and drop shipped to a remote location.

References to real-time commerce typically mean that credit card purchases are being approved in real time by the web server. The alternative is that the web server collects order and payment information for processing by a sales or service individual. It is very difficult for internet users to know which type of processing is being employed and, perhaps, not important either.

Wise shoppers only provide credit card information to companies which seem trustworthy. Never e-mail personal or financial information and never enter such information into a web page which is not visibly secure (latched padlock, closed key icons). It is a good practice to read the Privacy Policy of any website to which you are considering the submission of important information about yourself and, perhaps, even print out that Privacy Policy for your files.

Electronic mail allows users to send paperless messages and enclosures to individuals at specific internet addresses. In addition to a browser for viewing the internet, an e-mail program "client" is used to gather and sort e-mail on your computer.

Often an internet site will contain forms that can be filled out by a site visitor in order to send information back to the site owner. For instance, a manufacturer might put a form on their site which allows a potential customer to send an inquiry about a particular product so that a salesperson can follow up. The information filled into form fields on the internet can be sent to an e-mail box or even a fax machine via the host server.

.gif or .jpg   pronounced /gif/ and /jaypeg/
Gif is an image file format, Jif® is peanut butter. These are the file formats for images, photographs and graphics on the internet. These file formats are "compressed" so that they can quickly download over a modem connection. One fundamental skill of a professional web developer is the ability to convert a photograph or image into a .gif or .jpg while retaining its quality.

Home Page
The initial screen, or page, of a web site. Pages may be any length, are usually scrollable, and contain information on a single topic.

Host Server
A computer which is on the internet 24 hours per day which "serves out" internet site files to all the computers out there surfing the internet for your site. All web sites have a host server and most companies use an outside service, or ISP, for hosting because it requires more advanced computers and phone lines.

Hypertext transfer protocol; usually seen as the first part of an address because this identifies the data file used to traverse the Internet. Example: This example tells the computers involved that you are using HTTP to access the WWW where you want to find the site.

This stands for Hypertext Markup Language, the universal language of internet web pages which is understandable by browsers on nearly every computer system. This HTML code is not visible while you are surfing the internet because the browser program translates the code into normal text and images.

HTML E-mail
A rich text environment for e-mail which supports color, typeface and graphics similar to web pages, but provided in an e-mail format. While growing in popularity, this style of e-mail requires careful programming to avoid annoying the recipient. HTML e-mail programming must be compatible with a wide variety of e-mail reading software and overcome the reality that there currently is no international standard for HTML e-mail construction. HTML e-mail is sometimes filtered out at the receiving location.

One of the most unique features of the internet is that you can turn a word, image or phrase into a clickable “link” to another document or web site. These “hyper” links are a part of the HTML language which substitutes a click for typing in the name of the internet address of the document you want to link to.

A system of interrelated electronic data transfer lines (usually fibreoptic) and computers used to transfer and retrieve data.

An intranet is a private, usually password protected space that gives company employees and organization members the ability to organize and access internal information, documents, calendars, work schedules, policies and procedures, etc. Intranets provide timesaving and guesswork eliminating collaboration in a familiar, browser-based environment accessible anywhere in the world. Some organizations are making great use of intranets for employee or department recognition, organizational "What's New" items and timely communication from organization leaders.

An Internet Service Provider is a company which possesses the equipment and telecommunications connections necessary to provide internet access, e-mail, internet site hosting and other internet services. Examples of ISP’s include Hamilton & Bond, America Online, MSN, Earthlink and cable companies.

JavaScript is NOT Java although it is based loosely on the Java programming language. JavaScript is a basic scripting language that allows Web authors to create dynamic pages which react to user interaction such as "mouseovers" or "hovers". There is some fear of javascript, but mostly due to confusion with Java programs. JavaScript programs are contained within the harmless HTML code of a Web page and they cannot access any system controls or hardware on a user's computer.

The term Java refers to software programs that run on an individual's computer and which probably will access system and directory files.

JavaScript provides greater flexibility to the Web designer through such luxuries as being able to create windows, display moving text, sound or other multimedia elements with relative ease. JavaScript often is used in place of common CGI operations, like verifying form input. It can also be used to control Java applets or plugins or open up new browser windows to aid in site navigation.

Search Engine
A site which acts as an “internet librarian” by indexing thousands of sites out on the internet and allowing internet surfers to do real time searches of all these indexed sites. Since there are so many sites out on the internet, search engines make use of little roving computer programs called robots, which run through the pages of each site to determine what their content is. Search engines are free to the users because they are supported by banner and keyword advertising on the pages of the search engine site.

Section 508
In 1998, Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to require Federal agencies to make their electronic and information technology accessible to people with disabilities. Inaccessible technology interferes with an individual's ability to obtain and use information quickly and easily. Section 508 was enacted to eliminate barriers in information technology, to make available new opportunities for people with disabilities, and to encourage development of technologies that will help achieve these goals.

The law applies to all Federal agencies when they develop, procure, maintain, or use electronic and information technology..

Secure Server
A secure server creates a connection between the host computer and the remote computer that is locked in such a way that only the secure server can decode the information sent from a form on a web site. This is most commonly used on commerce sites to prevent credit card fraud.

Shopping Cart
Software which allows an internet site visitor to navigate back and forth throughout a commerce site and select and de-select items from a list that will comprise their order. After they are done "shopping" they check out with their payment information.

This stands for Universal Resource Locator. This is, essentially, the internet "address" for the information you are seeking. For example, the URL for Hamilton & Bond is and Microsoft's URL is

Web Accesssibility
The Web Accessibility Initiative of the Worldwide Web Consortium has developed extensive guidance for web developers toward making website content more accessible and meaningful to individuals with vision, dexterity or motion impairments.

For example, visually impaired web visitors may rely on audible web page readers that work best when visiting web pages properly constructed to be audible as well as visual. Individuals with color vision impairments benefit from alternatives to color based decision making clickables. Individuals for whom keyboarding is limited or not an option benefit from web pages designed with simplicity in mind. In total, web accessibility relates to web programming that does not make assumptions about the situation or capabilities of the web viewer.

Web Site
A “place” on the WWW consisting of a graphical, interactive computer file accessed by an internet “address”. A web site consists of one or more related “pages” of the computer file.

World Wide Web (WWW)
An interactive graphical interface used on the Internet to enhance a computer operator’s use of the internet. Also a term to designate the group of computer systems accessing the internet which use this interface, as opposed to those conducting only digital data transfer (ATM’s, etc.).

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a simple, very flexible text format derived from SGML (ISO 8879). Originally designed to meet the challenges of large-scale electronic publishing, XML is also playing an increasingly important role in the exchange of a wide variety of data on the Web and elsewhere including PDA's, information kiosks and cellular phones.

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