An Internet Glossary

HTML Quick-RefHTML Primer
  • Client
  • DNS
  • Domain
  • E-mail
  • FTP
  • GIF
  • HTML
  • HTTP
  • Hypertext
  • Internet, The
  • Intranet, An
  • IPP
  • ISDN
  • ISP
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • LAN
  • Leased Line
  • MIME
  • Modem
  • PDF
  • POP3
  • PPP
  • Router
  • Server
  • SGML
  • SMTP
  • TCP/IP
  • URL
  • Web, The
  • WWW, The
  • ABI
  • Adobe Acrobat
  • API
  • Attribute
  • AVI
  • Backbone
  • Bandwidth
  • Binary
  • Browser
  • Byte
  • CGI
  • There are far better glossaries than this one available on the Internet, but when I compiled most of these few particular notes in Oct.1996 I still had no actual Internet access! And so this was my way of studying and learning, practicing HTML, and adding bits of knowledge now and then from various quarters...

    (Pvh - 4/98)

    ABI (Application Binary Interface)

    The system environment that an executing program sees at runtime. It is the format of an executable file, the operating-system specifics such as process address space, and hardware details such as the number, sizes and reserved uses of registers.


    A technology created by Adobe Systems that allows complex formatted documents created on one computer system to be read and printed on other different systems with the original fonts, formatting and graphic elements intact. Different packages within the Adobe Acrobat software family are used to create, convert, read, view and print PDF file versions of a document. PDF files available via the Internet are transported whole for downloading whole before being opened to read separately.

    API (Application Programmer Interface)

    What the programmer sees and uses when writing source code. It consists of the names of the library calls, and the number and types of arguments they take.

    ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)

    Simple text-code. ASCII is the universal 7-bit character set representing each of 128 characters including A-Z, a-z and 0-9. Unlike binary, ASCII text can be displayed on any computer on the Internet, albeit unformatted. HTML tags are added to the text in order to achieve visibly formatted Internet pages.

    Some of the 128 ASCII characters are special characters (called control characters) used for communications control. For example ASCII §99 shows as a "c", while ASCII §13 is the universal "carriage-return" character which is ignored by browsers.


    A property that further defines an HTML tag. For example, in the TABLE tag "<TABLE WIDTH="100%" ALIGN=" center">" the optional attributes WIDTH and ALIGN specify exact settings for the particular table required.

    AVI (Audio/Visual Interleave)

    Microsoft's compressed audio/video file format.


    Any high-speed communications link connecting major ISPs together across the world. Large companies may also have a high-speed backbone connecting many network servers together.


    Literally, binary files are files formatted as collections of 0's and 1's. Typically the term "binary file" means the file is formatted so that it can only be read properly by certain software applications and must be encoded before it can be transferred across the Internet correctly. Images are binary files, and thus a text-reader such as "Notepad" will only display a GIF-file as a series of 0's and 1's while a browser will display it as an image.


    The range of transmission frequencies that a network can use. The greater the bandwidth, the greater the amount of data that that can travel on the network at one time.


    A computer software program (residing on a client's computer system) capable of displaying an HTML document, and enabling navigation between linked pages. There are several browsers available, of which MOSAIC, NETSCAPE and MS-IE are probably the best-known.


    The basic unit for transferring/storing data in a computer. A byte is made up of 8 bits (binary digits) representing a total decimal value of 0-255, and is normally used to store one readable text character or digit.


    A client is any computer remotely connected to and serviced by a host computer. The term is also used to describe a program such as browser that connects to and accesses data from a host computer.

    CGI (Common Gateway Interface)

    The Web's international standard for client-server application interfacing. CGI programs (or "scripts") are written in languages such as PERL, and perform many general Web functions. IMAGEMAP, which handles server-side imagemaps for many servers, is probably the most familiar. HTML forms typically require associated CGI scripts to do something with the information submitted by readers. CGI scripts serve as the interface between a Web server and other computer applications, such as database managers and order processing systems.

    DNS (Domain Name System)

    The Internet addressing system that connects a text-based domain name to a specified numeric IP address. Different servers have different IP addresses indexed on separate DNS servers devoted exclusively to that purpose. DNS enables a domain name to be portable (ie. remaining the same whenever moved to a new IPP server location, where its actual numeric IP address will have become necessarily changed).


    A registered Internet name address consisting of a regional domain (eg. "") preceded by the name of an individual, company or organisation (thus for example "").

    E-MAIL (Electronic Mail)

    FTP (File Transport Protocol)

    The set of common rules used to transfer files of various descriptions between servers and user-pcs. Actual FTP software varies greatly: some packages only enable downloading from sites, while more advanced programs allow both downloading from and uploading to servers.

    GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

    A graphics file format first originated by CompuServe.

    HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol)

    The set of common rules and regulations that servers and browsers must follow in "talking to each other". It is the protocol that enables the transfer of hypertext-linked files and data.

    HTML (HyperText Markup Language)

    The grammar and syntax of markup tags that, when inserted into a document, instruct a browser on how to present the document. HTML is a particular form of SGML
    that has the added advantage of allowing hypertext-based readability.


    Hypertext is any text that is not constrained to being linear (ie. read line-by-line). Instead of a set sequence of pages (as with for example a book), hypertext is any two or more sections of text information organised into an interconnected web for linked readability in any order.


    An international network of communication-links provided by the physical hardware of various communities and institutions on an informal basis. Looked at another way, it is a cooperative community of people using computer networks to exchange information.

    Started in 1969 as ARPANET (a U.S. Dept.of Defence experiment to see if university and military research computers could be linked in a way that would survive a nuclear attack). The design called for a network without heirarchy or centre, each computer on the network being the equal of any other. More and more institutions joined their own networks to it in the 1970s and started using it for their own purposes, such as exchanging e-mail and hosting sci-fi discussion groups, until in the 1980s the military handed the Government's hardware over to the National Science Foundation and withdrew to start another network of their own.

    The NSF hardware is now in private hands, and is just one among thousands of new Internet service-providers. To this day, no one owns or runs the Internet. A design that permitted no centres of authority has now, with the help of the World Wide Web, become the largest functioning anarchy in the world.


    Any private (ie. internal) network of company computers set up to intercommunicate by using Internet tools such as browsers and HTTP servers. An Intranet is a form of LAN that provides similar functions to the Internet (such as electronic mail and shared newsgroup facilities), but without having the associated security risks of linking the company to a public network. WINDOWS-NT is perhaps the best-known example of Intranet software.

    IPP (Internet Presence Provider)

    An IPP provides server webspace (measured in MegaBytes) for clients requiring hosting facilities for website articles. Typically a company organisation controlling several linked servers, an IPP in effect provides the storage facilities for the data that is a website page, while an ISP provides Internet access to it.

    ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network)

    A telecomunnications system that allows digital signals to be transmitted over a special telephone line using a specific type of modem called an ISDN adaptor. ISDN connects a user to an ISP much more quickly, and transmits data at 64Kbps - between two and four times faster than a normal modem - but does not cost as much as a leased-line. Some ISPs do not support ISDN links.

    ISP (Internet Service Provider)

    An ISP provides telecommunications access to the Internet. Typically company organisations, ISPs are also referred to as access-providers. They enable clients to connect to websites hosted by IPPs.


    Java is an object-oriented programming language designed for fast execution and type safety. Type safety means, for instance, that you can't cast a Java integer into an object reference or access private memory by corrupting Java bytecodes. Java's object-oriented model means that programs consist exclusively of classes and their methods. Java's class inheritance and strong typing generally require tightly coupled object hierarchies. These requirements make Java programming more complex than JavaScript authoring.


    JavaScript is a compact, object-based scripting language for developing client and server Internet applications. Browsers interpret JavaScript statements embedded in an HTML page.

    JavaScript and Java are similar in some ways but fundamentally different in others. The JavaScript language resembles Java but does not have Java's static typing and strong type checking. JavaScript supports most Java expression syntax and basic control-flow constructs. In contrast to Java's compile-time system of classes built by declarations, JavaScript supports a runtime system based on a small number of data types representing numeric, Boolean, and string values. JavaScript has a simple, instance-based object model that still provides significant capabilities. JavaScript also supports functions without any special declarative requirements. Functions can be properties of objects, executing as loosely typed methods.

    JPG/JPEG (Joint Picture Expert Group)

    A type of compressed image named after the working group that developed it. The defined compression scheme reduces the size of an image file by up to 20 times.

    LAN (Local Area Network)

    A group of computers and other devices that are in close proximity (such as in a business office), and are permanently connected together so that data can pass between them. An Intranet is an advanced form of LAN that uses Internet tools to inter-communicate.


    A telecommunications line (usually digital) that is leased from an ISP or a telecommunications company. Leased lines handle more bandwidth than ISDN lines, and are rented on a monthly or annual basis rather than charged at a measured rate. They are a more economical option for businesses connecting several users to the Internet or having to maintain connections for long periods of time.

    MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extension)

    An electronic mail protocol that allows users to attach binary files to e-mail messages. Most mail packages support the MIME protocol.


    A device enabling a computer to send/receive information over a normal telephone line. The term modem stands for "modulator-demodulator", describing the way in which digital computer data is converted into analog sounds capable of transmission by telephone for reconversion by a receiving modem at the other end. Modem speeds are measured in bits per second (bps).

    PDF (Portable Document Format)

    A format that gives a portable file version of any complex formatted document, created with Adobe Acrobat (or converted using Acrobat Exchange). PDF files allow people to share documents while using different platforms, and can be easily viewed by using Acrobat Reader (a software program distributed for free by Adobe). PDF files available via the Internet are transported whole for downloading before being opened to read separately.

    POP3 (Post Office Protocol version 3)

    The mail protocol used by browsers and most mail applications to retrieve mail from an SMTP server.

    PPP (Point to Point Protocol)

    A protocol that allows a computer to use the TCP/IP protocols and be directly connected to the Internet using a standard voice telephone line and a high-speed modem. PPP replaced SLIP.


    A device enabling permanent connection between a server and the Internet via a leased line. You do not need to install a router for an ISDN or modem based connection.


    A continuously available software program running on a remote computer that provides whatever Web pages are requested by a browser. Most (but not all) Web servers are run on UNIX machines with high-speed connections to the Internet.

    SGML (Standard Generalised Markup Language)

    Originated as GML at IBM in the late 1960s as an attempt to solve some of the problems of transporting documents across different computer systems. Adopted as SGML by the ISO (Geneva) 1986. HTML is a type of SGML DTD (or Standard GML Document Type Definition) developed for browser based Internet use.

    SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol)

    The standard Internet protocol for distributing e-mail.

    TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol and Internet Protocol)

    The suite of networking protocol standards formulated to let disparate types of computer communicate with each other. A protocol is a specification describing the rules and procedures that must be followed for computers to operate, and most Internet tools are named after the protocols they use (eg. TCP/IP and FTP). TCP/IP is the basic protocol "language" of the Internet, enabling any two computers using it to "speak" to each other at the same time.

    Three particular TCP/IP applications - electronic mail, remote login, and file transfer - are the Internet equivalent of the "big three" tools (hammer, screwdriver and spanner) in a toolbox.

    URL (Uniform Resource Locator)

    The term for each unique address of practically every file and resource on the Internet. Web pages are linked together by anchored HREFs ( or Hypertext REFerences), and the value of each HREF attribute is a URL.

    URLs can be either absolute or relative. An absolute URL is a complete stand-alone address (such as "http://www.domain.ext/directory/index.htm") that can also be expressed publicly, while a relative URL has only a partial address stating a path to another page located nearby (ie. "directory2/home.htm"). In its simplest format, where both the start and destination of a link are within the same file, the URL is a name preceded by a hash or gate(#) sign (ie. "<A HREF="#hyp">").

    WEB, The

    A term used to describe the interlinked collection of "living" (ie. changeable) documents available on the Internet for the purposes of information-exchange, and composed of formatted text, images and sound. See also the World Wide Web (a facility from which the looser term "Web" has become derived).

    There are 3 ways one can browse the Web: In TTY or linemode, through a commercial online service provider, or as an Internet host.

    WWW (The World Wide Web)

    Also called W3. The first and foremost of various information discovery and retrieval applications (others include Archie, Gopher, WAIS and Mosaic). The WWW began in 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau submitted a proposal to their colleagues at CERN for a client-server based hypermedia system. The applications use a web of linked nodes with one node designated as home - the home page for a Web server. See also WEB, The.

    WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)

    An acronym. WYSIWYG is generally regarded as an impossibility with HTML documents due to every web designers's lack of control over any viewer's browser type and version, installed system fonts and preferred screen resolution setting!

    Compiled by:

    Peter V.Hobbs
    WOKING, Surrey GB - Oct 1996