Glossary of Web Terms



Acrobat: Adobe software that converts postscript files into universally readable file format (PDF) for distribution across all computer platforms and the internet.

AIFF: Audio Interchange File Format: A common sound file format used on the Internet.

Anchors: A link to a specific location on a Web page. Also called Bookmarks in some Web page editors.

Animated Gifs: A method of creating an animation wherein a single GIF file contains all of the images used in an animation.

Antialiasing: The ability of some graphics programs to make jagged lines appear to be smoother than they are.

AppleScript: Apple's scripting and programming language for the MacOS, used extensively for creating CGI's on Mac based Web servers.

ASCII: American Standard Code for Information Interchange. The standard character set for the transmission of data (files saved as plain text are usually saved in the ASCII character set).

AVI: File extension for Microsoft's Video for Windows (i.e. MYVIDEO.AVI)


Background Image: A tiled image used as a background pattern on a web page.

Bandwidth: The amount of data that can travel through a network circuit, usually measure in kilobytes or megabytes per second.

Baud Rate: A measure of communications speed that represents the number of possible changes of state per second. It is often used to mean "bits per second." Typically used to refer to the speed of a modem. (e.g. 300, 2,400, 9,600, 14,400, 28,800)

BBEdit: An ASCII text editor from Bare Bones Software. Useful for adding HTML coding to pages created in PageMill.

BBS (bulletin board system): A system whereby users can log in and leave or read messages (not attached to a WAN).

Bit: the smallest unit of computerized information. In computer binary language this is the simple on-and-off code.

Bookmark: A URL address stored in your browser. Also, some Web page editors also use the term Bookmark to mean linked locations within a web page.

Browsers: Software that interprets HTML tags to display HTML documents over the web as formatted text and graphics. (Netscape Navigator, Mosaic, Internet Explorer)

Byte: A unit of measurement ( 8 bits ) used to rate storage capacity of disks; 1000 bytes is a kilobyte; a million bytes is a megabyte; 1 billion bytes is a gigabyte.


Cache: The area where temporary copies of information either in RAM or as disk files are stored so that the information can be used more rapidly or efficiently than original copies.

Claris Home Page: Claris Corporation's 'drag and drop' web page authoring software.

CGI (Common Gateway Interface): A standard for sending data from a Web server to another application. Also refers to the applications that work in conjunction with a Web server. Commonly used in page hit counters, etc.

Client: A computer or workstation that requests access or services from another computer (the server).

CMYK: The abbreviation for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The process colors used in color printing.

Commercial online services: Companies charging for access to their content and services. (examples: America Online, CompuServe, Prodigy)

Compression: A mathematical interpretation or algorithm of an image. An algorithm is created to condense images by not saving all the bytes and bits. Compression (making files smaller) is achieved by software or hardware (compression boards) or both.

Content Providers: Any organization or business providing information and/or products over a computer network. Can be anyone from a small business to the the federal government. (e.g. Time Magazine,, etc.)

CPU (central processing unit): The "brain" of the computer that interprets instructions.

Cropping: Shaping or editing the photograph. This is an artistic judgment which trims the image to fill available space.

CUSeeMe: A format that allows low-resolution video (and sound) to be sent along with a chat message. Think of it as IRC with video. The video quality is poor (and will get better slowly) and updates about 1 frame every second or so. This depends completely on the bandwidth of the connection to the Internet that both the sender and receiver of the video have (the higher the bandwidth, the better the quality).

Cyberspace: The sensation of place without location, or space without physicality, experienced while using global computer networks. The term was popularized by William Gibson in his novel Neurmancer.


Digital: Method of data storage and transmission in which each code is given a combination of bits. Each bit indicates the presence of absence of a condition (on-off yes-no) digitize: to convert via scanner photographic or other graphic images to a series of binary codes which can be processed by a computer.

Disk: (usually refers to magnetic storage) A coated platter for storing programs and data files. The main types are floppy or hard disks.

DPI: Dots per inch or in digital imaging pixels per inch. A measure of resolution.


Electronic digital camera: A camera that uses no film or processing. The images as shot is digitized, stored on a disk or sent to a computer.

E-mail: Electronic mail. The electronic exchange of messages addressed to individuals between computers.

Email address: A unique identifier that allows email to be sent from one computer to another

Emoticon: Emotion icons, little sideways faces formed with punctuation. They are supposed to provide a clue as to your current emotion. (e.g. happy :-), sad :-()

Emulation: Terminal emulation is a program that runs in a workstation that makes it look to both the user and the host like a specific type of data terminal.

EPS: Encapsulated postscript file format.

Ethernet: An industry standard hardware and software protocol for transmission of data packets over a network wire, usually at 10 and 100 megabits per second.


File format: The way data is stored in a file; how pixels are arranged. EPS, TIFF, GIF, JPEG and PICT are all file formats.

File server or server: A type of server that holds files in private and shared subdirectories for LAN or WAN users.

Firewall: The term for any security measures taken, whether software or hardware, that protect and or limit a user's access to the Internet. A type of router that watches the messages being passed through it and controls which messages are allowed through.

Flat bed scanner: Primarily used to scan reflective art.

Floppy disk: a flexible magnetic disk used to record and store data (also called a diskette).

Form: An interactive page on the Web that allows a user to submit information to the server.

Frames: A feature built into browsers that splits a window into independent but interactive sections.

Front Door: First page of a website.

FTP (File transfer protocol): The Internet protocal most often used for transferring files across the Internet.


Gateway: A computer that connects subnets of different types. These subnets run different protocols and operating systems. Gateways can also provide access to mini and mainframe computers as well as to Wans (Wide Area Networks).

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format): A graphic compression format developed by CompuServe that allows for images of up to 8-bits or 256 colors. One of the more common graphic formats on the Web.

GifBuilder: A shareware application that creates animated gif files for delivery over the web.

GPIB (General Purpose Interface Bus): Allows different types of computers to interface by standardizing the signal.

GraphicConverter: A shareware application that opens and converts a wide range of image file formats.

GUI (Graphical User Interface): A term used to describe operating systems and programs that utilize images, mouse control, and WYSIWYG technology to make computers and programs easier to use.


Hardware: The equipment that makes up a computer system as opposed to the programming or instructions sets for the system (software).

Helper Applications: Software programs that work independently but in connection with each other. These helper application will run independent of each other. (e.g. Netscape and Sparkle)

High-resolution image: A digitized image which contains the greatest amount of pixels per inch.

Home: The URL that is set in browser preferences as the website to visit when the browser is booted (default URL).

Hot Spot: An area in an imagemap that is designated to serve as a link to another web page.

HTML: Hypertext Mark-up Language - A programming language that uses special codes called markup tags to indicate formatting and special elements within a Web page.


ImageMap: An web page image with corresponding "hotspots" that link to other HTML documents and resources on the Web. They are often used in navigation bars, or wherever a graphic interface is desirable.

Interlacing: The ability of a GIF file to be loaded for viewing so that it appears to fade in gradually.

Internet: The term used to describe the vast worldwide network of networks.

Internet Explorer: Microsoft corporation's Web browser.

IRC (Internet Relay Chat): A way for people to communicate in realtime with text over the internet (each sees the text in a window on their computer).

ISDN: Integrated Services Digital Network: A telecommunication protocol that uses digital technology for data transmission for both computer and voice communication.

ISP: Internet service provider (Frognet, DialNet, etc.)


Java: A programming language developed by Sun Microsystem's to add scripting routines to Web pages.

JPEG: The abbreviation for an image compression algorithm (Joint Photographic Experts Group). Supports 24 bit color (16.7 million colors) as compared to GIF which only supports 8 bit color (256 colors).


LAN (Local Area Network): A method for connecting PCs so that they can share information and peripherals in a limited geographical area.

Layout: A drawing showing the typographic parts (ads, photos, text) in their proper positions.

Link: An area on a Web page designated as being able to direct a browser to another location within the internet or on the Web page.

Low resolution image: Usually refers to an image that contains only the information necessary to accurately display the image on the computer screen.


Megabyte: (MB) a unit of measure of store data corresponding to 1024 kilobytes or 1,048,576 bytes.

Modem: Abbreviation for modulation-demodulation, but more commonly refers to a hardware device that transport data packets by converting digital signal into analog signals for transmission via telephone wires. Still the most common way for users to connect to the internet.


Network: A group or system of electronic components and connecting circuitry designated to function in a specific manner.

Node: A device or computer on a network.


Online: Being connected to a computer and using its logic.

Optical scanner: A device that uses light to scan and convert text graphics or other images into digitized data that can be read by a computer.


PageMill: Adobe Corporation's 'drag and drop' web page authoring software.

Personal Web Server: Microsoft's free software utility for publishing web pages from your desktop computer. You must have a direct connection to the internet for this to work. Available for both Mac and Windows 95 computers.

PhotoShop: Adobe's digital imaging software. Used to manipulate or enhance digital photographs and to create original digital artwork.

PICT: A digital file format.

Pixel: The smallest portion of a picture for which information is stored. Pixels are made up of bits.

PDF Files (Portable Document Format): Adobe Acrobat native file format making fully formatted documents available seamlessly across all computer platforms with all type and layout intact.

Plug-ins: An extension to an application that adds functionality to the program. Plug-ins cannot function as stand alone applications.

Postscript: Page description language developed by Adobe that allows rasterizing output devices such as laser printers and typesetters to output images that may include both text and graphics.


Quicktime: Apple's standard for digital video.


Raster image processor (RIP): Usually software in a device that takes pixels and turns them into dots for the printed image. The RIP prepares data for output on a raster image device such as a laser printer.

RealAudio: A browser plug-in that delivers audio over the internet.

Resolution: The quality of the information measured in pixels per inch or pixels per centimeter for digital images.

Root path: The location of a file on a disk.

Router: A device that forwards network traffic between networks.


Search Engine: An internet service that searches for websites and/or content contained in Web pages on the internet.

Server: (or File Server) Any computer on a network that makes files and communication services available to other computers.

Service Providers: An organization that allows individual clients to connect to the internet. ISP's usually charge a fee for this service. (local ISP's: FrogNet, DialNet)

Shockwave: A technology for embedding animation files (like Macromedia Director files) into a Webpage.

SND: The Macintosh native sound file format.

Splash Screen: The first Web page a visitor sees when arriving at a Website.


Tables: A graphically divided area in which content can be organized and divided by grid lines for display on a Web page.

Tango: A scripting application that allows servers to search a database and deliver the requested information to a client.

Thumbnail: A small, iconized version of a larger graphical image.

TIFF: Tagged Image File Format

Transparency: The ability to see through a single color of a GIF file's 256 colors when viewed in a Web Browser.


URL (Uniform Resource Locator): The address of a page on the internet.

Unix: An extremely flexible but complicated operating system that pioneered Internet connectivity.


VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language): Used for describing 3D spaces in which users can view and navigate. These are not pre-rendered like movie files, but rendered on-the-fly (in realtime as the users move within them) from the descriptions of the geometries.


WAN: Wide Area Network: A high=speed network of computers extending farther than 1 kilometer.

WAV (Waveform Audio Format): A proprietary audio file format developed by IBM and Microsoft.

Webmaster: The person responsible for maintaining the files on a website.

Website: The collective Web pages that make up all the material on a server.

WebStar: Starnine Corporation's Macintosh web server software.

WWW (World Wide Web): The network of clients and servers that navigate and store information the the Internet.

WYSIWYG: What you see is what you get.

640 x 480: The most common resolution size in pixels of the standard 13" computer screen.

72 DPI: Common computer screen resolution.

(Special thanks to Larry Nighswander for the use of this glossary!)