Web Developer Glossary: Top Web Terms

February 22nd, 2012 Leave a comment
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Top Web Terms

Below is a quick glossary of the most commonly used web terms that you might want to add to your web toolkit:

AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML – a group of interrelated web development methods used on the client-side to create asynchronous web applications. With Ajax, web applications can send data to, and retrieve data from, a server asynchronously (in the background) without interfering with the display and behavior of the existing page.

Anchor – an HTML tag used to define a word, group of words, or image that you can click on to jump to a new document or a new section within the current document.

Android – an operating system for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google.

Apache – HTTP web server software typically run on a Unix-link operating system. Apache is developed and maintained by an open community of developers under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation.

Array – a data structure consisting of a collection of elements (values or variables), each identified by at least one index. An array is stored so that the position of each element can be computed from its index tuple by a mathematical formula.

Attributes – modifiers of HTML elements. They generally appear as name-value pairs, separated by “=”, and are written within the start tag of an element, after the element’s name.

Boolean – a data type, having two values (usually denoted true and false), intended to represent the truth values of logic and Boolean algebra. It is named after George Boole, who first defined an algebraic system of logic in the mid 19th century.

Box Model – the rectangular boxes that are generated for HTML elements in the document tree and laid out according to the visual formatting model.

Caching – a component that transparently stores data so that future requests for that data can be served faster. The data that is stored within a cache might be values that have been computed earlier or duplicates of original values that are stored elsewhere.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – a style sheet language used to describe the presentation semantics (the look and formatting) of a document written in a markup language. Its most common application is to style web pages written in HTML and XHTML, but the language can also be applied to any kind of XML document, including plain XML, SVG and XUL.

Casting – the explicit changing of an entity of one data type into another. This is done to take advantage of certain features of type hierarchies or type representations.

Data Types – a classification identifying one of various types of data, such as floating-point, integer, or Boolean, that determines the possible values for that type; the operations that can be done on values of that type; the meaning of the data; and the way values of that type can be stored.

Document Object Model (DOM) – a cross-platform and language-independent convention for representing and interacting with objects in HTML, XHTML and XML documents. Aspects of the DOM (such as its “Elements”) may be addressed and manipulated within the syntax of the programming language in use.

Elements – an individual component of an HTML document. HTML documents are composed of a tree of HTML elements and other nodes, such as text nodes. Each element can have attributes specified. Elements can also have content, including other elements and text. HTML elements represent semantics, or meaning.

Expression – a combination of explicit values, constants, variables, operators, and functions that are interpreted according to the particular rules of precedence and of association for a particular programming language, which computes and then produces (returns, in a stateful environment) another value.

Event Delegation – a mechanism of responding to ui-events via a single common ancestor rather than each child descendant, through the magic of event “bubbling” (aka event propagation).

Function – a portion of code within a larger program that performs a specific task and is relatively independent of the remaining code.

Htaccess – a directory-level configuration file supported by several web servers, that allows for decentralized management of web server configuration.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) – the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML elements are the basic building-blocks of webpages and is written in the form of HTML elements consisting of tags, enclosed in angle brackets

Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) – a general-purpose server-side scripting language originally designed for web development to produce dynamic web pages.

Index – an integer that identifies an array element.

Initialize – the assignment of an initial value for a data object or variable. The manner in which initialization is performed depends on programming language, as well as type, storage class, etc., of an object to be initialized.

Intermediate Code – a term which has been used to denote various forms of instruction sets designed for efficient execution by a software interpreter as well as being suitable for further compilation into machine code.

JavaScript – a prototype-based scripting language that is dynamic, weakly typed and has first-class functions. It is a multi-paradigm language, supporting object-oriented, imperative, and functional programming styles.

jQuery – A companion library and toolkit that is used with JavaScript that allows for your applications to be developed quicker and with richer features such as animation effects, interactivity and UI elements.

Modal – a child window that requires users to interact with it before they can return to operating the parent application.

Operators – a set of built-in syntax characters that perform operations such as arithmetic operations or logical comparisons, i.e. “greater than”.

Optimization – the process of modifying a software system to make some aspect of it work more efficiently or use fewer resources. In general, a computer program may be optimized so that it executes more rapidly, or is capable of operating with less memory storage or other resources, or draw less power.

Overloads – a specific case of polymorphism, where different operators have different implementations depending on their arguments. Operator overloading is generally defined by the language, the programmer, or both.

Random Access Memory (RAM) – a form of computer data storage. Today, it takes the form of integrated circuits that allow stored data to be accessed in any order with a worst case performance of constant time.

Read-Only Memory (ROM) – a class of storage medium used in computers and other electronic devices. Data stored in ROM cannot be modified, or can be modified only slowly or with difficulty.

Rootkit – software that enables continued privileged access to a computer while actively hiding its presence from administrators by subverting standard operating system functionality or other applications.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in search engines via the “natural” or un-paid (“organic” or “algorithmic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.

Spyware – a type of malware that can be installed on computers, and which collects small pieces of information about users without their knowledge. The presence of spyware is typically hidden from the user, and can be difficult to detect.

State – essentially a snapshot of the measure of various conditions in the system or a unique configuration of information in a program or machine.

Synchronization – Synchronization is the process of controlling access to a shared resource when using multiple threads in your program.

Target – controls where the new document will be displayed when the user follows a link.

Test Driven Development – a software development process that relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: first the developer writes a failing automated test case that defines a desired improvement or new function, then produces code to pass that test and finally refactors the new code to acceptable standards.

Unit Testing – a method by which individual units of source code are tested to determine if they are fit for use. A unit is the smallest testable part of an application.

Widget – a reusable element of a graphical user interface that displays an information arrangement and provides standardized data manipulation.

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