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Putting Web Ancronyms into Layman's Terms

Creating a website is a big project, and it can feel really daunting if you don't really understand what the developer is talking about. The following acronyms are commonly used when developing a project. Hopefully this information will help you understand what your developer discusses with you.

HTTP (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol)
This is the method that your web browser uses to talk to a web server. When you type a URL into your web browser, it sends a message to a web server in order to retrieve the elements for the site you want to view. The message to the server and the information sent back to your web browser are relayed using HTTP.

HTTPS (Hyper Text Transfer Protocol over Secure Socket Layer)
HTTPS is a secure method your web browser uses to talk to a web server. When you arrive at a page where the URL begins with HTTPS, it means the information from your web browser that is being sent to the web server is encrypted before it is sent. In this way the information is secure. Any time you make an online purchase, before entering your credit card information look at the URL to make sure it has the HTTPS.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator)
This is the address for a website (i.e. resource) on the Internet. It tells your web browser how to find the information you are seeking from a specific set of files on a specific server. For example, is the URL for Landau Design.

IP Address (Internet Protocol Address)
Every server connected to the internet has an IP address assigned to it. It's usually broken up into 4 segments separated by periods ( It's like the servers' phone number which the entire Internet calls up every time they are trying to reach that server.

DNS (Domain Name Server)
Layman's definition: When you type in a URL, what happens in your web browser is a message is sent to a domain name server. When the message arrives at the server, it says to the server "Here is the URL I am looking for. Please give me the IP address of the server it is on." The domain name server is like a giant phone book that cross references URLs with the IP addresses of the servers they live on.

HTML (Hypertext Markup Language)
This is the original language of the Internet. It is not a true programming language in the sense that it does not include logic statements (i.e. if this happens, then do that). Instead it is a language that literally tells the web browser how to display the contents of a page. So things like paragraph breaks, bolding a headline, colors, images, etc. are specified in a HTML file so the browser knows how to arrange the contents of a page. Not all browsers read HTML the same, which is why sites do not always look the same across different browser types.

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets)
CSS is a way to deliver information about layout and appearance that is more specific than regular HTML. For example, with CSS you can specify that your menu bar be 20 pixels from the top of the browser window. In this way you can accurately compile your website layout based on specific parameters without having to rely on the web browsers interpretation of HTML.

CMS (Content Management System)
A CMS is a program used for creating and managing website content. A CMS utilizes a database to store the site's content, and it provides built-in functionality for displaying that information. Generally a CMS allows the site owner to update their site using a WYSIWYG editor. It also allows for integration of more complex functionality since most CMS's on the market have plugins that can be integrated without custom development. At Landau Design we build sites using Joomla, which is one of the most popular CMS's available.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
This is the method used to transfer files on and off a server. Putting files on a server is like copying files from a CD onto your computer's hard drive. When files are transferred onto a server, as they are transferred the software used needs to know what type of file it is because different types (i.e. text vs. image) require different types of coding when uploaded. The coding for different file types is handled by the FTP program you use.

RFP (Request For Proposal)
The document the client puts together to define the project and assist the developer in compiling an estimate. Read Save Time By Writing an RFP for an outline of how to create this document.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get)
This is what they call a content editor that displays your site's content in the same manner it would appear on your web page. WYSIWYG got their name because before WYSIWYG, editing of sites was only done by looking at the code. So the person working on the code had to load the page into a web browser in order to see what it looked like. Dreamweaver is an example of a WYSIWYG editor.