In case you hadn’t noticed, the web has a language all its own. Often designers and developers will speak this language with little regard for whether or not they’re being understood.
Don’t take it personally: it’s just the world they inhabit. Art critics make the rest of us feel dumb when we look at a painting and think it’s just a bunch of circles on a canvas. Physicists at NASA won’t even talk to us because there’s no point.
But we need websites, and we need people to make them for us, so we have to work with designers and developers. Here are some of the more common acronyms and terms you’ll hear along with simple explanations for what they mean. You can (and probably should) do further reading on these topics if you are the person in charge of working with a designer or design firm, but this list will give you a head start.
ASP: Active Server Pages. ASP is a server-side scripting language used to add logic and database interactivity to websites.
CGI: Common Gateway Interface. CGI is a protocol that allows server applications to interact with web browsers.
CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. CSS is a language used to define how a web page written in HTML or XHTML is presented and displayed in a web browser.
DNS: Domain Name System. DNS is the internet’s phone book. It translates human language domains/URLs (amazon.com, for instance) into the numeric internet protocol (IP) addresses used by networking equipment and web servers.
HTML: HyperText Markup Language. HTML is the basic language of the entire internet. Every website uses some form of HTML.
JSP: Java Server Pages. Software maker Java’s version of ASP and PHP.
PHP: Personal Home Page. PHP is a server-side scripting language used to add logic and database interactivity to websites.
RoR: Ruby on Rails. RoR is a web application based on the Ruby language. It is popular for use in Web 2.0 sites like Twitter.
RSS: Really Simple Syndication. RSS is an XML specification for publishing frequently updated web content to subscribers. Blogging is a prime example of content that is published via RSS.