Understanding Web Jargon.
Don't know your HTML from your HTTP? Your cache from your cookies? The web has serious amounts of jargon, and it seems like people come up with new words almost every day. Most of it isn't especially useful, but there are some words that it's good to know to help you along on the web. Here are the essentials.
Apache. The most popular web server. It is open source and free for anyone to use.
Blog. A short for 'weblog'. A web page that is updated like a diary, with the most recent writing first. Usually done using blogging software instead of being maintained by hand.
Browser. A web browser is the software that you use to view pages on the web. Internet Explorer is the most common browser.
Cache. A web browser's cache is where it keeps files that it has downloaded from the web and might need to use again. A site's logo and navigation graphics may be stored in the cache, for example, so that they don't have to be downloaded again each time you go from one page of the site to another. This happens automatically.
Cookies. Small files that websites can store on your computer to let them 'remember' you. When you log into a website and you're still logged in when you go back there later on, that's because the site gave your browser a cookie.
Favorites. Also known as Bookmarks, this is a place in your browser where you can save links to pages that you'd like to visit again.
Flash. A browser plug-in developed by Macromedia that displays animations and animated websites.
FTP. File Transfer Protocol. The usual method of uploading files from your computer to a web server.
HTML. Hypertext Markup Language. The language that web pages are written in.
HTTP. Hypertext Transfer Protocol. Theoretically, the way that HTML pages are sent between a server and a browser, although in practice HTTP is used for sending all sorts of data, including graphics and file downloads. Many files should really be provided using FTP, but HTTP is considered to be easier and faster.
IIS. Internet Information Server. Microsoft's competitor to Apache, comes with versions of Windows that can be used as web servers. Often considered to be somewhat insecure and prone to crashing, although recent versions have improved.
ISP. Internet Service Provider. The company or institution that provides your computer with access to the Internet, usually in exchange for a monthly fee.
Link. A link is some text on one web page that will take you to another page if you click on it.
MySQL. MySQL is a free, open source database. It is often used for smaller web applications and websites.
Open source. Open source software is software which makes its source code freely available. This is intended to give you more freedom to modify the software however you want (or pay someone to modify it for you), instead of tying you to a company and relying on them for updates. In practice, this means that the software is available for download at no cost. Visit www.opensource.org for more information.
PDF. Portable Document Format. A document format that aims to reproduce text exactly the way it would appear on a page. Viewable in web browsers using a plug-in, but disliked by many users because it can be very slow.
PHP. Stands for 'PHP: Hypertext Processor'. A very easy to learn and easy to use scripting language that is one of the most common on the web, helped along by the fact that it is also free. It is most often used in quite simple ways, such as retrieving text from a database and adding it to a page.
URL. Uniform Resource Locator. A technical term for a whole web address, such as http://www.example.com/page.html. It is called uniform because you can use similar addresses to refer to entirely different kinds of resources: for example, file://c:/windows refers to your Windows folder, and ftp://ftp.example.com/public_html refers to a folder on an FTP server.
W3C. The World Wide Web Consortium (three Ws and a C, so W3C). This is the standards body that is considered to be 'in charge' of the web, and decides what gets put in and taken out of the various versions of HTML, amongst other things.