Mumbo jumbo ...

E-Glossary of web terms

We have compiled the following glossary to help clarify some of the mumbo-jumbo that web developers frequently throw around when discussing internet and e-commerce solutions.

We have compiled the following glossary to help clarify some of the mumbo-jumbo that web developers frequently throw around when discussing internet and e-commerce solutions.

Short for Web browser, a software application used to locate and display Web pages. The two most popular browsers are Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer. Both of these are graphical browsers, which means that they can display graphics as well as text. In addition, most modern browsers can present multimedia information, including sound and video, though they require plug-ins for some formats.

A computer or software that requests a service of another computer system or process (a "server"). For example, a workstation requesting the contents of a file from a file server is a client of the file server. A web browser is commonly referred to as a client.

Clients and Servers
In general, all of the machines on the Internet can be categorised as two types: servers and clients. Those machines that provide services (like Web servers or FTP servers) to other machines are servers. And the machines that are used to connect to those services are clients.

When you connect to Yahoo at to read a page, Yahoo is providing a machine (probably a cluster of very large machines), for use on the Internet, to service your request. Yahoo is providing a server. Your machine, on the other hand, is probably providing no services to anyone else on the Internet. Therefore, it is a user machine, also known as a client. It is possible and common for a machine to be both a server and a client !

Common Gateway Interface: A protocol that allows a Web page to run a program on a Web server. Forms, counters, and guest books are common examples of CGI programs.

Any piece of software can be a CGI program if it handles input and output according to the CGI standard. Usually a CGI program is a small program that takes data from a web server and does something with it, like putting the content of a form into an e-mail message, or turning the data into a database query. CGI "scripts" are just scripts which use CGI. CGI is often confused with Perl, which is a programming language, while CGI is an interface to the server from a particular program.

A message given to a Web browser by a Web server. The browser stores the message in a text file. The message is then sent back to the server each time the browser requests a page from the server.

The main purpose of cookies is to identify users and possibly prepare customised Web pages for them. When you enter a Web site using cookies, you may be asked to fill out a form providing such information as your name and interests. This information is packaged into a cookie and sent to your Web browser which stores it for later use. The next time you go to the same Web site, your browser will send the cookie to the Web server. The server can use this information to present you with custom Web pages. So, for example, instead of seeing just a generic welcome page you might see a welcome page with your name on it.

A collection of data: part numbers, product codes, customer information, etc. It usually refers to data organized and stored on a computer that can be searched and retrieved by a computer program.

Domain name
A name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular Web pages. For example, in the URL, the domain name is

Dynamic web page
A web document that is created from a database in real-time or "on the fly" at the same time it is being viewed, providing a continuous flow of new information and giving visitors a new experience each time they visit the web site.

Dynamic web sites offer the user the ability to interact with the web site. This interaction can take place in the form of a search for products, a questionnaire that automatically posts results or online polls. Basically, dynamic web pages and content are generated from the input of the user.

Electronic commerce
Often referred to as simply e-commerce, business that is conducted over the Internet using any of the applications that rely on the Internet, such as e-mail, instant messaging, shopping carts, Web services, and FTP, among others. Electronic commerce can be between two businesses transmitting funds, goods, services and/or data or between a business and a customer.

Forms are web pages comprised of text and "fields" for a user to fill in with information. They are an excellent way of collecting and processing information from people visiting a web site, as well as allowing them to interact with web pages. Forms are written in HTML and processed by CGI programs.

FTP servers
One of the oldest of the Internet services, File Transfer Protocol makes it possible to move one or more files securely between computers while providing file security and organisation as well as transfer control.

1. Process of supplying goods after an order has been received.
2. Process of reacting to a customer's request, covering everything that has to happen from the time the customer places an order until they are completely satisfied.

Any computer on a network that provides services or information to other computers on the network. A host is also called a server.

IP address
Every computer connected to the Internet is assigned a unique number known as an Internet Protocol (IP) address. Since these numbers are usually assigned in country-based blocks, an IP address can often be used to identify the country from which a computer is connecting to the Internet. Example IP number:

Internet Service Provider, a company (can be a communications carrier) that has access to the Internet and can provide remote dial server access ports for users to use for connections via modem dial-up. Typically these service providers also have disk space on http servers to hold Web pages that can be used by others.

Mail servers
Almost as ubiquitous and crucial as Web servers, mail servers move and store mail over corporate networks (via LANs and WANs) and across the Internet.

Merchant account
This is an account set up with a bank to process credit card orders from customers.

Payment gateway
An online system for real-time charging of credit cards when a customer places an order. Normally requires a merchant account.

A common question from merchants is "Do we have to change banks to use payment gateways?"

The answer is NO!  - All you need to do is open a merchant facility with one of the supported banks. The merchant facility is then linked to a nominated bank account for example: NAB or Commonwealth or Westpac etc. The money is then transferred at the end of each day from your merchant account to your nominated account. There are no government charges or banks fees associated with this transfer of funds.

A computer that provides a service to other computers (known as clients) on a network.

Shopping cart
A shopping cart is a piece of software that acts as an online store's catalogue and ordering process. Typically, a shopping cart is the interface between a company's Web site and its deeper infrastructure, allowing consumers to select merchandise; review what they have selected; make necessary modifications or additions; and purchase the merchandise.

Shopping carts can be sold as independent pieces of software so companies can integrate them into their own unique online solution, or they can be offered as a feature from a service that will create and host a company's e-commerce site.

Short for Secure Sockets Layer, a protocol developed by Netscape for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL works by using a private key to encrypt data that's transferred over the SSL connection. Both Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer support SSL, and many Web sites use the protocol to obtain confidential user information, such as credit card numbers. By convention, URLs that require an SSL connection start with https: instead of http:.

Letting your customers know that you have SSL protection gives your site credibility and may encourage customers to deal with you in confidence.

Secure certificate
A document that is used to certify that a user or organisation is who they say they are. They contain information about who it belongs to, who it was issued by, expiry date and information that can be used to check out the contents of the certificate. It is as an important part of the SSL system for establishing secure connections.

Secure server
A Secure Server uses an SSL certificate. It is generally a piece of web space that can only be dealt with by using SSL ensuring that data transferred between the web space and the browser is encrypted.

Static web page
In web site terms, static means web pages that are not interactive. Because the web site visitor does not have any control over the information provided, the pages and information do not change with each visit. There is not a two-way communication between the user (client) and the web site (server) in a static page.

(Uniform Resource Locator) - The World Wide Web address of a site on the Internet. The URL for the Internal Revenue Service, for example, is (See also "Domain name").

Web servers
At its core, a Web server serves static content to a Web browser by loading a file from a disk and serving it across the network to a user's Web browser. This entire exchange is mediated by the browser and server talking to each other using HTTP.



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