Terms For How The Web Works — Part 2

With a general understanding of the Internet, and before we dive into the Web, there’s so much terminology surrounding it all.

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I’m pretty antsy about getting to how the Web works, but I’d like to first go over a list of terms and abbreviations that you’re likely to see throughout my block of articles on the Internet and the Web, and, more importantly, that are used in all other sites that document the workflow of these processes. (These will be alphabetized so as not to get the hierarchy or chain of order incorrect.) Many reading this might already know these terms and or the processes that I’ll go over in the next blog, so this is for those of us that need a better understanding or refresher.

  1. AJAX — Asynchronous Javascript And XML. From W3Schools: AJAX uses a combination of: #1: A browser built-in XMLHttpRequest object (to request data from a web server) #2: JavaScript and HTML DOM (to display or use the data)
  2. API — Application Programming Interface.It’s the interface that determines how software communicates or interacts with one other. API’s are how one software component or resource or application interacts with another. It outlines the specification of the interaction and the software
  3. APPLICATION — A software program that runs software packages that perform specific functionality for a user. These software programs are in charge of processing data for the user.
  4. ASCII — American Standard Code for Information Interchange. ASCII is a character encoding standard for electronic communication
  5. ASSETS-Files containing text content, images, audio, video, etc, or database data.
  6. AUTHORITY — Aka Website Authority, is the strength of a domain. Note: It is not Moz’ DA metric.
  7. CACHE — A component that stores data for later retrieval, so that in the future, when that data is requested, the retrieval will be served much faster. This storage component can be either hardware or software.
  8. CLIENT / BROWSER — A software application, example: web browser, that runs on a a users local device, whether it be a phone, computer, etc. Client-side is also known as the front-end. From Code Conquest: ‘The client of a website refers to the web browser that is viewing it.’
  9. CONTENT-TYPE — An HTTP header that lets the Client know what type of data is returned from the server, whether that be image/png, text/html, etc. An EXTENSIVE full list of media types can be found here: Media Types
  10. DNS — Domain Name System. This protocol is essentially, in simple terms, the Internet’s phone book service. The DNS directory matches names (www.yoursite.com) with IP address numbers ( Browsers and Servers are routed by numbers, not names, but it’s easier for humans to remember names.
  11. FOUC — Flash Of Un-styled Content. This flash happens when the browser loads content before the stylesheets are loaded, or before assets are loaded. (Pssst: Limiting amount of CSS files down to 1 file, proper placement of script tags in your HTML, and/or help from SEO’s are useful for eliminating FOUC probs)
  12. FTP — File Transfer Protocol. FTP is the standard network protocol for transferring files between Clients and Servers. This transfer is done over a TCP/IP-based or OSI based network (the Internet)
  13. HTML — Hypertext Markup Language. Displays data and layout the structure of a Webpage.
  14. HTTP — Hypertext Transfer Protocol. HTTP is the communication between Web Servers and Clients, the foundation of data/resource exchange between the two. There are HTTP Requests and HTTP Responses. It’s important to remember that HTTP is STATELESS and every request is independent from each other.
  15. HTTPS —Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secured. Using SSL/TLS protocol for encryption of data, HTTPS secures this data for communication.
  16. IDP — Identity Provider. Services used by companies to store and manage digital identities. For example, storage of usernames and passwords are more secure when stored with IDPs.
  17. IP ADDRESS — Internet Protocol Address. Every piece of hardware that is network equipped, is assigned an IP Address. This IP address can physically locate every single connected piece of hardware, and then differentiate them all. From Whatismyipaddress: ‘The common type of IP address (is known as IPv4, for “version 4”). Here’s an example of what an IP address might look like: An IPv4 address consists of four numbers, each of which contains one to three digits, with a single dot (.) separating each number or set of digits. Each of the four numbers can range from 0 to 255.’ We did actually run out of IPv4 addresses in 2012 and so IPv6 was created, phew!
  18. ISP — Internet Service Provider. (This is pretty straight forward, right?)
  19. JSON — JavaScript Object Notation. This data interchange format uses text that is human readable in key/value attribute pairs to store and transfer data as an object. Check out JSON for a deeper understanding.
  20. METHODS: GET, POST, PUT, DELETE — HTTP RESTful request methods lets the server know what actions are to be preformed for a resource. There are other methods, these are the most widely used four.
  21. OSI — Open Systems Interconnection model. This is a 7 layer model system. Much like the TCP/IP model, according to Wikipedia: ‘[OSI] characteri[z]es and standardi[z]es the communication functions of a telecommunication or computing system without regard to its underlying internal structure and technology.’
  22. PROTOCOL — Standard of guidelines.
  23. PROXY — A proxy, in its most general form, is a class functioning as an interface to something else. The proxy could interface to anything: a network connection, a large object in memory, a file, or some other resource that is expensive or impossible to duplicate. — Wikipedia. Maybe easier to understand, even, was from this article by Refactoring Guru: ‘Proxy is a structural design pattern that lets you provide a substitute or placeholder for another object. A proxy controls access to the original object, allowing you to perform something either before or after the request gets through to the original object.’
  24. PROXIES-CACHES-GATEWAYS-TUNNELS-AGENTS — These are 5 components of HTTP and should be researched on their own…there’s so much info on these I’d have to write a post just on them, alone, to cover them properly.
  25. RAM — Random Access Memory. the place in your device, actual hardware, where data, applications, and operating systems are held so that they can be quickly retrieved by the processor when needed for use.
  26. REFERRER — The field listed in the HTTP request of the url or referring page of the previous address leading to this address. The URL address of the initial request.
  27. RFC — Request for Comments. This is a document outlining the Internet Standard of a technology or methodology in regards to the Internet. There are some that are still being followed since the 80's!
  28. SCRIPT — A set of instructions, or a program, that is executed by another program instead of the computers processor. Scripts can be run by Web Servers to produce dynamic Web content. Often, they are found in HTML files
  29. SERVER — According to Wikipedia: ‘[A] server is a piece of computer hardware or software (computer program) that provides functionality for other programs or devices, called “clients”.’
  30. SOCKET — An endpoint of one of either two in a two-way program communication links. A socket has 3 things: an IP address, a PORT number and protocols.
  31. SSH — Secured Socket Shell. An SSH gives users a secure way to access a computer or an unsecured network.
  32. SSL / TLS — Secure Sockets Layer / Transport Layer Security. Both of these are protocols used for securing encrypted links between networked computers. More info on these can be found here on SSL.
  33. STATIC — There are many different things that static can refer to in programming. I’d like to define in it terms of static assets and static content. An example of a static asset would be an image. The server never changes this object before giving to the user. As such, folders can be static or public, and routes to them are configured directly. Stackpath has a great definition of static content: ‘Static content is any content that can be delivered to an end user without having to be generated, modified, or processed. The server delivers the same file to each user, making static content one of the simplest and most efficient content types to transmit over the Internet.’
  34. TCP — Transmission Control Protocol. A very big topic best quickly defined by TechTarget as ‘a standard that defines how to establish and maintain a network conversation through which application programs can exchange data. TCP works with the Internet Protocol (IP), which defines how computers send packets of data to each other.’
  35. USER-AGENT — HTTP request header that tells the Server the application, operating system, vendor, and/or version of the requesting Client
  36. UTF-8 (Charset UTF-8) — Charset: Character Encoding Standard. UTF-8 is the Unicode Reference, from 1 to 4 bytes long(remembering 1 Byte = 8 Bits), and is backward-compatible with ASCII. UTF-8 are encoded characters compatible for electronic communication.
  37. WEB APPLICATION — Set of computer programs using Web Browsers and technology to perform successful request/response transactions over the internet/network between Clients and Servers.
  38. WEB BROWSER — aka Client — Techopedia states it ‘is a software program that allows a user to locate, access, and display web pages.’
  39. XHR REQUEST — XMLHttpRequest. Used frequently in AJAX requests, XHRs interact with servers to get data from a URL without a page refresh.
  40. XML — eXtensible Markup Language. A markup language used to store and transfer data. XML defines other languages. It’s a lot like HTML, but HTML is a predefined language.
  41. URI — Uniform Resource Identifier. Identifies a resource by URL. The actual string of letters that make up the address.
  42. URL — Uniform Resource Locator. A web address that directs a resources location in the network, specifying where it exists and how to retrieve it.

Next week, I’m looking forward to finally having a chance to get to Part 3 — How Does The Web Work? Hope to see you there!

Other sites used in obtaining info for this blog:








Software Engineer. A new addict of ReactJS & Javascript, CSS & APIs, with a little dabbling in Ruby, Ruby On Rails…

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