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absolute When used to modify pathnames or URLs, it means a full and complete specification (as opposed to a relative one).

acceptable use A doctrine originally formulated by the National Science Foundation restricting the Internet to research and academic, but not commercial, use.

ActiveX (a.k.a. ActiveX control) A Microsoft technology that supports dynamic extension to Internet Explorer functionality. Thus, ActiveX is to IE as plug-ins are to Netscape Navigator — that is, a method for adding new capabilities, or extending existing capabilities, within a Web browser.

alpha test The testing on software performed by the developers, usually during the development process; also, the first of several stages in the software testing process (see beta test).

anchor In HTML, an anchor is a tagged text or graphic element that acts as a link to another location inside or outside a given document, or it may be a location in a document that acts as the destination for an incoming link. The latter definition is most commonly how we use it in this book.

animation A computerized process of creating moving images by rapidly advancing from one still image to the next.

anonymous ftp A type of Internet file access that relies on the File Transfer Protocol service, where any user can typically access a file collection by logging in as anonymous and supplying his or her username as a password.

AppleScript The scripting language for the Macintosh operating system, used to build CGI programs for Macintosh-based Web servers.

applet Literally a “small application,” applet refers to any of a class of small programs that can be delivered on demand across the Internet to Web browsers for instant access and use. Java is a common language used to create such programs.

Archie An Internet-based archival search facility, based on databases of file and directory names taken from anonymous ftp servers around the Internet.

architecture-neutral One of Sun's descriptive terms for Java, this means that the language is not specific or partial to a particular computer architecture; in other words, Java will execute on any computer for which a Java runtime system exists. Possible synonyms for this term include platform independent or processor independent.

ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Administration) See DARPA.

attribute In HTML tags, an attribute is a named characteristic of an associated tag. Some attributes are required while others are optional. Some attributes may also take values (if so the syntax is ATTRIBUTE="value") or not, depending on the tag and the attribute. (See Chapter 5 for tag details in alphabetical order.)

AUP (Acceptable Use Policy) See acceptable use.

authoring software In the context of HTML, authoring software refers to programs that understand HTML tags and their placement. Some such programs can even enforce HTML syntax; others can convert from word processing or document formatting programs to HTML formats.

awk A powerful scripting language included with most implementations of UNIX, awk supplements the file-processing capabilities of the UNIX shells, including pattern-matching of fields and C-like structured programming constructs.

back end The server-side of client/server is called the back end because it is usually handled by programs running in obscurity on the server, out of sight (and mind) for most users.

bandwidth Technically, bandwidth is the range of electrical frequencies that a device can handle; more often, it's used as a measure of a communications technology's carrying capacity.


Basic (Beginner's All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) A programming language, Basic (also called BASIC) is easy to learn and use. The most popular implementation is Microsoft's QuickBasic.

beta test The phase of software testing where a program or system is turned over to a select group of users outside the development organization for use in more or less real-life situations.

body The body is one of the main identifiable structures of any HTML document. It is usually trapped between the head information and the footer information.

bookmark Most Web browsers include a facility for building a list of URLs that users wish to keep for future reference. Netscape calls such references bookmarks in its browser.

browser A Web access program that can request HTML documents from Web servers and render such documents on a user's display device. (See also client.)

BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) A flavor of UNIX that was particularly important in the late 1970s and 1980s when most of the enhancements and add-ons to UNIX appeared first in the BSD version (like TCP/IP).

BTW Acronym for “By The Way"; commonly used in e-mail messages.

bugs Small verminous creatures that sometimes show up in software in the form of major or minor errors, mistakes, and gotchas. Bugs got their name from insects that, having been attracted to the glow of the filament in a tube, were found in antiquated tube-based computers of the late 50s and early 60s.


C A programming language developed at AT&T Bell Laboratories, C remains the implementation language for UNIX and is the UNIX programmer's language of choice.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) A style sheet is a collection of rendering instructions for a Web browser that instructs it how to display various classes of markup with respect to font selections, sizes, and text color and placement. CSS defines relationships among multiple style sheets when they exist, so that precedence among multiple definitions can be established and conflicts among multiple definitions of the same styles avoided.

case sensitive Means that the way computer input is typed is significant; for example, HTML tags can be typed in any mixture of upper- and lowercase, but because HTML character entities are case sensitive, they must be typed exactly as reproduced in this book.

CD-ROM (Compact Disk-Read-Only Memory) A computer-readable version of the audio CD; CD-ROMs can contain up to 650 MB of data, making them the distribution media of choice for many of today's large (some would even say bloated) programs and systems.

CERN (Centre European Researche Nucleare) The Center for High-Energy Physics in Geneva, Switzerland; the birthplace of the World Wide Web.

character entity A way of reproducing strange and wonderful characters within HTML, character entities take the form &string; where the ampersand (&) and semicolon (;) are mandatory metacharacters, and string names the character to be reproduced in the browser. Because character entities are case sensitive, the string between the ampersand and the semicolon must be reproduced exactly as written in Chapter 7 of this book.

character mode When referring to Web browsers, character mode (also called text mode) means that such browsers can reproduce text data only. They cannot produce graphics directly without the assistance of a helper application.

clickable map A graphic in an HTML file that has had a pixel coordinate map file created for it, to allow regions of the graphic to point to specific URLs for graphically-oriented Web navigation.

client The end-user side of the client/server arrangement, client typically refers to a consumer of network services of some kind. A Web browser is therefore a client program that talks to Web servers.

client/server A model for computing that divides computing into two separate roles, usually connected by a network: The client works on the end-user's side of the connection and manages user interaction and display (input and output, and related processing), while the server works elsewhere on the network and manages data-intensive or shared processing activities, like serving-up the collections of documents and programs that a Web server typically manages.

common controls When designing HTML documents, most experts recommend that you build a set of consistent navigation controls and use them throughout a document (or collection of documents), providing a set of common controls for document navigation.

Common Gateway Interface (CGI) The specification that governs how Web browsers can communicate with and request services from Web servers; also the format and syntax for passing information from browsers to servers via forms or document-based queries in HTML.

compile To create a completely executable version of a computer program from its source code into a computer-specific binary format prior to its actual execution. .EXE files are classic examples of compiled programs because they're ready to run on any PC with a compatible operating system. The program that translates source code into binary form for a particular computer is called a compiler.

computing platform A way of referring to the kind of computer someone is using, this term encompasses both hardware (the type of machine, processor, etc.) and software (the operating system and applications) in use.

content For HTML, content is its raison d'etre; although form is important, content is why users access Web documents and why they keep coming back for more.

convention An agreed-upon set of rules and approaches that allows systems to communicate with one another and work together.

CSS See Cascading Style Sheets.


DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration) A U.S. Department of Defense funding agency that supplied the cash and some of the expertise that led to the development of the Internet, among many other interesting things.

dedicated line A telephone line dedicated to the purpose of computerized telecommunications; a dedicated line may be operated continuously (24 hours a day) by its owner. In this book, such lines usually provide a link to an Internet service provider.

default In general computer-speak, a default is a selection that's made automatically in a program, instruction, or whatever when no selections are made explicitly. For HTML, the default is the value assigned to an attribute when none is supplied.

desktop (a.k.a. desktop machine) The computer a user typically has on his or her desktop; a synonym for “end-user computer” or “computer.”

dial-up A connection to the Internet (or some other remote computer or network), made by dialing up an access telephone number.

directory path The device and directory names needed to locate a particular file in any given file system; for HTML, UNIX-style directory paths usually apply.

distributed Indicated that a program or runtime environment is network-aware, and can operate by obtaining or combining information from multiple computers across a network (for example, the Domain Name Service or DNS that maps Internet domain names into IP addresses is a distributed application).

DNS (Domain Name Server) See domain names.

document headings The class of HTML tags that we generically refer to as <H*>, document headings allow authors to insert headings of various sizes and weights (levels 1 through 6) to add structure to their documents' contents. As structural elements, headings should identify the beginning of a new concept or idea within a document.

document management A software system designed to control access to documents, to track users with possession of checked-out documents, and to maintain version information and threaded collections of related documents (called releases, represented by a particular published incarnation of a document collection). Such systems become increasingly useful to WebMasters as the size of a Web site grows.

document structure For HTML, this refers to the methods used to organize and navigate within HTML documents or related collections of documents.

document The basic unit of HTML information, a document refers to the entire contents of any single HTML file. Because this doesn't always correspond to normal notions of a document, we refer to what could formally be called HTML documents more or less interchangeably with Web pages, which is how such documents are rendered by browsers for display.

document-based queries One of two methods of passing information from a browser to a Web server, document-based queries are designed to pass short strings of information to the server by using the METHOD="GET" HTTP method of delivery. This method is typically used for search requests or other short lookup operations.

DoD (Department of Defense) The folks who paid for and operated the earliest versions of the Internet.

domain names The names used on the Internet as part of a distributed database system for translating computer names into physical addresses and vice versa.

DOS (Disk Operating System) See also operating system. The underlying control program used to make most Intel-based PCs run. Microsoft's MS-DOS is the most widely used implementation of DOS and provides the scaffolding atop which its equally widely used MS-Windows software runs.

DTD (Document Type Definition) A formal SGML specification for a document, a DTD lays out the structural elements and markup definitions that can then be used to create instances of documents.

dumb terminal A display device with attached keyboard that relies on the intelligence of another computer to drive its display and interpret its keyboard inputs. Such devices were the norm in the heyday of mainframes and minicomputers and are still widely used for reservation systems, point of sale, and other specialized-use applications.

dynamic In computer-speak, this defines a degree of mutability in a computer program that permits it to respond on the fly (or on demand) to user input or changes in the computer's runtime environment (for an example, see the following definition).

Dynamic HTML A proprietary Microsoft HTML extension technology that allows certain markup tags to invoke existing information from a database, document management system, or other application, for display within a Web page. This approach lets Web documents change what they display as the data itself changes, making those pages more dynamic in nature (hence the name).


electronic commerce The electronic exchange of money for goods or services; many companies expect electronic commerce to do away with mail and telephone shopping by the end of the century.

e-mail An abbreviation for electronic mail, e-mail is the preferred method for exchanging information between users on the Internet (and other networked systems).

encoded information A way of wrapping computer data in a special envelope to ship it across a network, encoded information refers to data-manipulation techniques that change data formats and layouts to make them less sensitive to the rigors of electronic transit. Encoded information must usually be decoded by its recipient before it can be used.

error message Information delivered by a program to a user, usually to inform him or her that things haven't worked properly, if at all. Error messages are an ill-appreciated art form and contain some of the funniest and most opaque language we've ever seen (often tragic for their unfortunate recipients, too).

Ethernet The most common local-area networking technology in use today, Ethernet was developed at about the same time (and by many of the same people and institutions) as the Internet.


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) Usenet newsgroups, mailing list groups, and other affiliations of like-minded individuals on the Internet usually designate a more senior member of their band to assemble and publish a list of frequently asked questions, in an often futile effort to keep from answering them quite as frequently.

file extension In DOS, this refers to the 3-letter part of a filename after the period; for UNIX, Macintosh, and other file systems, this refers to the string after the right-most period in a filename. File extensions are used to label files as to type, origin, and possible use.

flame Used as a verb (“He got flamed.”), it means to be the recipient of a particularly hostile or nasty e-mail message; as a noun (“That was a real flame.”), it refers to such a message.

flamewar What happens when two or more individuals start exchanging hostile or nasty e-mail messages; this is viewed by some as an art form and is best observed on Usenet or other newsgroups (where the alt.flame . . . or alt.bitch newsgroups would be good places to browse for examples).

footer The concluding part of an HTML document, the footer should contain contact, version, date, and attribution information to help identify a document and its authors.

forms In HTML, forms are built on special markup that lets browsers solicit data from users and then deliver that data to specially designated input-handling programs on a Web server. Briefly, forms provide a mechanism to let users interact with servers on the Web.

front end In the client/server model, the front end part refers to the client side; it's where the user views and interacts with information from a server; for the Web, browsers provide the front end that communicates with Web servers on the back end.

FTP (sometimes ftp; File Transfer Protocol) An Internet file transfer service based on the TCP/IP protocols, FTP provides a way to copy files to and from FTP servers elsewhere on a network.

gateway A type of computer program that knows how to connect to two or more different kinds of networks, to translate information from one side's format to the other's, and vice versa. Common types of gateways include e-mail, database, and communications.


GIF An abbreviation for Graphics Information File, gif is one of a set of widely used graphics formats within Web documents. It is common because of its compressed format and compact nature.

Gopher A program/protocol developed at the University of Minnesota, Gopher provides for unified, menu-driven presentation of a variety of Internet services, including WAIS, telnet, and FTP.

graphics In HTML documents, graphics are files that belong to one of a restricted family of types (usually GIF or JPEG) that are referenced via URLs for in-line display on Web pages.

grep An abbreviation for general regular expression parser, grep is a standard UNIX program that looks for patterns found in files and reports on their occurrences. The grep program handles a wide range of patterns, including so-called regular expressions which can use all kinds of substitutions and wild cards to provide powerful search-and-replace operations within files.

GUI (Graphical User Interface, pronounced gooey) GUIs make graphical Web browsers possible; they create a visually-oriented interface that lets users interact with computerized information of all kinds.


heading For HTML, a heading is a markup tag used to add document structure. The term is sometimes used to refer to the initial portion of an HTML document between the <HEAD> . . . </HEAD> tags, where titles and context definitions are commonly supplied.

helper applications Today, browsers can display multiple graphics files (and other kinds of data); sometimes, browsers must pass particular files — for example, motion picture or sound files — over to other applications that know how to render the data they contain. Such programs are called helper applications, because they help the browser deliver Web information to users.

hierarchical structure A way of organizing Web pages using links that make some pages subordinate to others. (See tree-structured for another description of this kind of organization.)

history list Each time a user accesses the Web, his or her browser will normally keep a list of all the URLs visited during that session; this is called a history list and provides a handy way to jump back to any page that's already been visited while online. History lists normally disappear when the user exits the browser program.

hotlist A Web page that consists of a series of links to other pages, usually annotated with information about what's available on that link. Hotlists act like switchboards to content information and are usually organized around a particular topic or area of interest.

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) The SGML-derived markup language used to create Web pages. Not quite a programming language, HTML nevertheless provides a rich lexicon and syntax for designing and creating useful hypertext documents for the Web.

http or HTTP (hypertext teleprocessing protocol, a.k.a. hypertext transfer protocol) The Internet protocol used to manage communication between Web clients (browsers) and servers.

httpd (http daemon) The name of the collection of programs that runs on a Web server to provide Web services. In UNIX-speak, a daemon is a program that runs all the time and listens for service requests of a particular type; thus, httpd is a program that runs continually on a Web server, ready to field and handle Web service requests.

hyperlink A shorthand term for hypertext link, which is defined in its own entry.

hypermedia Any of a variety of computer media — including text, graphics, video, sound, etc. — available through hypertext links on the Web.

hypertext A method of organizing text, graphics, and other data for computer use that lets individual data elements point to one another; a nonlinear method of organizing information, especially text.

hypertext link In HTML, a hypertext link is defined by special markup that creates a user-selectable document element that can be selected to change the user's focus from one document (or part of a document) to another.


image map A synonym for clickable image, this refers to an overlaid collection of pixel coordinates for a graphic that can be used to locate a user's selection of a region on a graphic and, in turn, used to select a related hypertext link for further Web navigation.

IMHO Acronym for In My Humble Opinion, mostly used in e-mail messages.

Infobahn A psuedo-Teutonic synonym for Information Superhighway (taken from Autobahn, the German highway system), used because it's shorter and “cooler” than Information Superhighway.

Information Superhighway The near-mythical agglomeration of the Internet, communications companies, telephone systems, and other communications media that politicians seem to believe is a “big thing” in business, academia, and industry. Many people believe that this highway is already here, and that it's called the Internet.

input-handling program For Web services, a program that runs on a Web server designated by the ACTION attribute of an HTML <FORM> tag, whose job it is to field, interpret, and respond to user input from a browser. It typically custom-builds an HTML document in response to some user request.

Internaut Someone who travels using the Internet (like Astronaut or Argonaut).

Internet A worldwide collection of networks that began with technology and equipment funded by the DoD in the 1970s that today links users in nearly every known country, speaking nearly every known language.

interpreter A computer program that reads a series of code instructions and executes those instructions immediately after they're read. Both the Java and Perl programming languages are at least partially interpreted, and can be executed directly at runtime (for an antonym, see compile).

IP (Internet Protocol; see TCP/IP) IP is the specific networking protocol of the same name used to tie computers together over the Internet; IP is also used as a synonym for the whole TCP/IP protocol suite.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) An emerging digital technology for telecommunications that offers higher bandwidth and better signal quality than old-fashioned analog telephone lines. Not yet available in many parts of the U.S. or in the rest of the world.

ISO (International Standards Organization) The granddaddy of standards organizations worldwide, the ISO is a body made of standards bodies from countries all over the place. Most important communications and computing standards — like the telecommunications and character code standards mentioned in this book — are the subject of ISO standards.


Java A simple, object-oriented, distributed, interpreted, robust, secure, architecture-neutral, portable, high-performance, multi-threaded and dynamic programming language, Java is designed to deliver small programs called applets to Java-enabled Web browsers on demand that can instantly extend their capabilities and functionality.

Javascript A text-based scripting language that can be embedded in HTML documents to supply interactive behavior and additional functionality at runtime. Despite the similarity in their names, Javascript and Java are not related to one another.

JPEG or JPG JPEG stands for Joint Photographic Experts' Group, an industry association that has defined a particularly compressible format for image storage that is designed for dealing with complex color still images (like photographs). Files stored in this format usually take the extension .JPEG (except DOS or Windows machines, which are limited to the three-character .JPG equivalent). Today, JPEG is emerging as the graphics format standard of choice for use on W3.


Kbps (Kilobits per second) A measure of communications speeds, in units of 210 bits per second (210 = 1024, which is just about 1,000 and explains the quasi-metric K notation).

KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) A self-descriptive philosophy that's supposed to remind us to “eschew obfuscation,” except it's easier to understand!


LAN (Local Area Network) Typically, one of a variety of communications technologies used to link computers together in a single building, business, or campus environment.

layout element In an HTML document, a layout element is a paragraph, list, graphic, horizontal rule, heading, or some other document component whose placement on a page contributes to its overall look and feel.

linear text Shorthand for old-fashioned documents that work like this book does: by placing one page after the other, ad infinitum in a straight line. Even though such books have indexes, pointers, cross-references, and other attempts to add linkages, they must be applied manually (rather than by clicking your mouse).

link checker A type of Web-site management program that checks all links within a named collection of pages, and flags all links that are no longer active or working. A link checker is an important element in any conscientious WebMaster's toolbox.

link For HTML, a link is a pointer in one part of a document that can transport users to another part of the same document or to another document entirely. This capability puts the hyper into hypertext. In other words, a link is a one-to-one relationship/association between two concepts or ideas, similar to cognition. (The brain has triggers such as smell, sight, and sound that cause a link to be followed to a similar concept or reaction.)

list element An item in an HTML list structure tagged with <LI> (list item) tag.

list tags HTML tags for a variety of list styles, including ordered lists <OL>, unordered lists <UL>, menus <MENU>, glossary lists <DL>, or directory lists <DIR>.

listserv An Internet e-mail handling program, typically UNIX-based, that provides mechanisms to let users manage, contribute and subscribe to, and exit from named mailing lists that distribute messages to all subscribed members daily. A common mechanism for delivering information to interested parties on the Internet, this is how the HTML working group communicates amongst its members, for example.

logical markup Refers to any of a number of HTML character handling tags that exist to provide emphasis or to indicate a particular kind of device or action is involved. (See Chapter 4 for a discussion of HTML tags by category that includes the details on descriptive versus physical markup.)

Lynx A widely used UNIX-based character-mode Web browser.


MacWeb A Macintosh-based graphical-mode Web browser implemented by MCC. (See also MCC)

maintenance The process of regularly inspecting, testing, and updating the contents of Web pages; also, an attitude that such activities are both inevitable and advisable.

majordomo A set of Perl programs that automate the operation of multiple mailing lists, including moderated and unmoderated mailing lists and routine handling of subscribe/unsubscribe operations.

map file A set of pixel coordinates on a graphic image that correspond to the boundaries of regions that users might select when using the graphic for Web navigation. This file must be created by using a graphics program to determine regions and their boundaries, and then stored on the Web server that provides the coordinate translation and URL selection services.

markup A way of embedding special characters (metacharacters) within a text file to instruct a computer program how to handle the contents of the file itself.

markup language A formal set of special characters and related capabilities used to define a specific method for handling the display of files that include markup; HTML is a markup language that is an application of SGML and is used to design and create Web pages.

Mbps (Megabits per second) A measure of communications speeds, in units of 220 bits per second (220 = 1,048,576 which is just about 1,000,000 and explains the quasi-metric M notation.

metacharacter A specific character within a text file that signals the need for special handling; in HTML angle brackets (< >), ampersand (&), pound sign (#), and semicolon (;) are metacharacters.

MIME (Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions) http communications of Web information over the Internet rely on a variant of MIME to convey documents and related files between servers and users, and vice versa.

modem An acronym for modulator/demodulator, a modem is a piece of hardware that converts between the analog forms for voice and data used in the telephone system and the digital forms for data used in computers. In other words, a modem lets your computer communicate using the telephone system.

Mosaic A powerful graphical Web browser originally developed at NCSA, now widely licensed and used for a variety of commercial browser implementations.

MPEG or MPG An acronym for Motion Picture Experts' Group, MPEG is a highly compressed format designed for use in moving pictures or other multi-frame-per-second media (like video). MPEG can not only provide tremendous compression (up to 200 to 1), but it also updates only elements that have changed on-screen from one frame to the next This feature makes it extraordinarily efficient as well — .MPEG is the common file extension to denote files using this format and .MPG is the three-letter equivalent on DOS and Windows systems (which can't handle four-letter file extensions).

MPPP (Multilink Point-to-Point Protocol) An Internet protocol that allows simultaneous use of multiple physical connections between one computer and another, to aggregate their combined bandwidth and create a “larger” virtual link between the two machines.

multimedia A method of combining text, sound, graphics, and full-motion or animated video within a single compound computer document.

Multithreaded A characteristic of a computer runtime environment that uses a lightweight process control mechanism, called threading, to switch contexts among multiple tasks or programs.

MVS (Multiple Virtual Storage) A file system used on IBM mainframes and clones.


navigation bar A way of arranging a series of hypertext links on a single line of a Web page to provide a set of navigation controls for an HTML document or a set of HTML documents.

navigation In the context of the Web, navigation refers to the use of hyperlinks to move within or between HTML documents and other Web-accessible resources.

NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) A research unit of the University of Illinois at Urbana, where the Mosaic originated, and where NCSA httpd is maintained and distributed.

nesting In computer terms, one structure that occurs within another is said to be nested; in HTML, nesting happens commonly with list structures that may be freely nested within one another.

netiquette A networking takeoff on the term etiquette, netiquette refers to the written and unwritten rules of behavior on the Internet. If in doubt whether or not an activity is permitted, ask first, and act only if no one objects. (Check the related FAQ— it often states local rules of netiquette for a newsgroup, mailing list, and so on.)

network link The tie that binds a computer to a network; for dial-in Internet users, this is usually a telephone link. For directly attached users, it is whatever kind of technology (Ethernet, token-ring, FDDI, etc.) that is in local use.

numeric entity A special markup element that reproduces a particular character from the ISO-Latin-1 character set, a numeric entity takes the form &#nnn; where nnn is the 1, 2, or 3-digit numeric code that corresponds to a particular character. (Chapter 6 contains a complete list of these codes.)


object-oriented (acronyms OO or O-O) An approach to computer programming that concentrates on defining data objects and the methods (or operations) that may be applied to them. OO technologies are becoming increasingly popular in Web development tools of all kinds.

on-demand connection A dial-up link to a service provider that's available whenever it's needed (on demand, get it?).

online A term that indicates that information, activity, or communications are located on, or taking place in, an electronic, networked computing environment (like the Internet). The opposite of online is offline, which is what your computer is as soon as you disconnect from the Internet.

OS (Operating System) The underlying control program on a computer that makes the hardware run and supports the execution of one or more applications. DOS, UNIX, and OS/2 are all examples of operating systems.


packet A basic unit (or package) of data used to describe individual elements of online communications; in other words, data moves across networks like the Internet in packets.

pages The generic term for the HTML documents that Web users view on their browsers.

paragraphs The basic elements of text within an HTML document, <P> is the markup tag used to indicate a paragraph break in text (the closing </P> tag is currently optional in HTML).

path, pathname See directory path.

PC (personal computer) Today PC is used as a generic term to refer to just about any kind of desktop computer; PC originated as the product name for IBM's 8086-based personal computer, the IBM PC.

Perl (Practical Extraction and Reporting Language) A powerful, compact programming language that draws from capabilities of languages like C, Pascal, sed, awk, and BASIC, Perl is widely used for CGI programs. Perl's popularity owes to its portability and the many platforms on which it runs, and partly to its ability to exploit system services in UNIX quickly and easily.

physical markup Any of a series of HTML markup tags that specifically control character styles (bold (<B>) and italic (<I>)) or typeface (<TT>, for typewriter font).

pick list Generally, a list of elements displayed for user selection of one or more choices; in HTML, the result of the <SELECT> and <OPTION> tags to construct such a list for use in a form.

pipe As used in this book, pipe generally refers to the bandwidth of the connection in use between a user's workstation and the Internet (or the server on the other end of the connection, actually).

plain text Usually refers to vanilla ASCII text, as created or viewed in a simple text-editing program.

platform Synonym for computer.

port address TCP/IP-based applications use the concept of a port address to identify which program to talk to on the receiving end of a network connection. Since many programs may be running on a computer at one time — including multiple copies of the same program — the port address uniquely identifies exactly which process to which incoming data should be delivered.

POTS (Plain Old Telephone System) The normal analog telephone system, just like the one you probably have at home.

PPP (Point-to-Point Protocol) A modern, low-overhead serial communications protocol, used to connect two computers via modem. Web browsers require either PPP or SLIP to work via modem.

protocol A formal, rigidly-defined set of rules and formats that computers use to communicate with one another.

provider See service provider.


RAM (Random Access Memory) The memory used in most computers to store the results of ongoing work, and to provide space to store active parts of operating system and applications that are actually running at any given moment.

relative When applied to URLs, relative means that in the absence of the <BASE> tag, the link is relative to the current page's URL in which the link is defined. This makes for shorter, more compact URLs and explains why most local URLs are relative, not absolute.

resource Any HTML document or other item or service available via the Web. URLs point to resources.

return (short for carriage return) In text files, returns cause words on a line to end, and make the display pick up at its leftmost location. As used in this book, it means don't hit the Enter or Return key on your keyboard in the middle of a line of HTML markup or a URL specification.

robot A special Web-traveling program that wanders all over the place, following and recording URLs and related titles for future reference (like in search engines).

ROM (Read Only Memory) A form of computer memory that allows values to be stored only once when data is initially recorded. ROMs supply code elements like bootstrap loaders, network addresses, and other more or less unvarying programs or instructions as a form of non-volatile storage.

router A special-purpose piece of internetworking gear or softwaver that connects networks together, a router can read the destination address of any network packet. It can forward the packet to a local recipient if its address resides on any network that the router can reach, or on to another router if the packet is destined for delivery to a network that the current router cannot access directly.

runtime In computer jargon, this term refers to the execution environment that exists while a program is running. For interpreted languages like Perl and Java, it refers to the execution environment that interprets code, checks integrity and security, and applies dynamic bindings based on current system states, environment variables, and input parameters to the program being executed.


screen The glowing part on the front of your computer monitor where you see the Web do its thing (and anything else your computer might like to show you).

search engine A special Web program that can search the contents of a database of available Web pages and other resources to provide information that relates to specific topics or keywords supplied by a user.

search tools Any of a class of programs (see Chapter 17) that permit HTML documents to become searchable by using the <ISINDEX> tag to inform the browser of the need for a search window and behind-the-scenes indexing and anchoring schemes.

sed A powerful UNIX-based text-editing program that makes it easy to locate and manipulate text elements within any of a number of files.

server A computer on a network whose job is to listen for particular service requests and to respond to those that it knows how to satisfy.

service provider An organization that provides individuals or other organizations with access to the Internet. Service providers usually offer a variety of communications options to their customers, ranging from analog telephone lines, to various higher-bandwidth leased lines or ISDN.

setup When negotiating a network connection, the phase at the beginning of the communications process is called the setup. At this point, protocol details, communication rates, and error-handling approaches are worked out, allowing the connection to proceed correctly and reliably thenceforth.

SGML (Standard Generalized Markup Language) An ISO standard document definition, specification, and creation mechanism that makes platform and display differences across multiple computers irrelevant to the delivery and rendering of documents.

shell See UNIX shell.

Shockwave A Web extension technology defined by Macromedia Corporation; used primary to permit Web delivery of files created using that company's well-respected Director multimedia development environment that can provide animation, video, audio, and full-blown multimedia content on demand.

site mapper A management program that arranges all the documents and elements that compose a Web site into a graphical image, called a map. Site mappers can come in handy to show users how Web sites are structured, but are most often used by WebMasters to illustrate how a site is organized, or to provide a point of access to the elements within a Web site.

SLIP (Serial Line Interface Protocol) A relatively old-fashioned TCP/IP protocol used to manage telecommunications between a client and a server; treats the phone line as a slow extension to a network.

SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) The underlying protocol and service for Internet-based electronic mail.

spider (a.k.a. Web spider, Webcrawler) A Web-traversing program that tirelessly investigates Web pages and their links, and stores information for inclusion in the databases typically used by search engines.

stdin (UNIX standard input device) The default source for input in the UNIX environment, stdin is the input source for CGI programs as well.

stdout (UNIX standard output device) The default recipient for output in the UNIX environment, stdout is the output source for Web browsers and servers as well (including CGI programs).

style sheet A collection of definitions for HTML markup that defines how certain tags will be rendered by a browser that includes controls over font selection, type size and color, and text placement on a user's display. Style sheets are under development as part of the Cougar HTML specification.

superstructure In HTML documents, we refer to superstructure as the layout and navigational elements used to create a consistent look and feel for Web pages belonging to a document set.

syntax checker A program that checks a particular HTML document's markup against the rules that govern its use; a recommended part of the testing regimen for all HTML documents.

syntax Literally, the formal rules for how to speak, we use syntax in this book to describe the rules that govern how HTML markup looks and behaves within HTML documents. The real syntax definition for HTML comes from the SGML Document Type Definition (DTD).


tag The formal name for an element of HTML markup, usually enclosed in angle brackets (< >).

TCP (Transmission Control Protocol; see also TCP/IP) The transport layer protocol for the TCP/IP suite, TCP is a reliable, connection-oriented protocol that usually guarantees delivery across a network.

TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) The name for the suite of protocols and services used to manage network communications and applications over the Internet.

teardown When a network communication session ends, the two computers agree to stop talking and then systematically break the connection and recover the port addresses and other resources it used. This process is called teardown.

technophobe Literally, someone who's afraid of technology, this term is more commonly applied to those who don't want to understand technology, simply to use it!

Telnet The Internet protocol and service that lets you take a smart computer (your own, probably) and make it emulate a dumb terminal over the network. Briefly, Telnet is a way of running programs and using capabilities on other computers across the Internet.

template Literally, a model to imitate, we use the term template in this book to describe the skeleton of a Web page, including the HTML for its heading and footer, and any consistent layout and navigation elements for a page or set of pages.

terminal emulation The process of making a full-fledged, stand-alone computer act like a terminal attached to another computer, terminal emulation is the service that Telnet provides across the Internet.

test plan A series of steps and elements to be followed when conducting a formal test of software or other computerized systems; we strongly recommend that you write — and use — a test plan as a part of your Web publication process.

text controls Any of a number of HTML tags, including both physical and logical markup, text controls provide a method of managing the way that text appears within an HTML document.

text-mode A method of browser operation that displays characters only. Text-mode browsers cannot display graphics without the assistance of helper applications.

throughput Another measure of communications capability, this term refers to the amount of data that can be “put through” a connection in a given period of time. It differs from bandwidth in being a measure of actual performance, instead of a theoretical maximum for the medium involved.

thumbnail A miniature rendering of a graphical image, used as a link to the full-sized version.

title The text supplied between <TITLE> . . . </TITLE> defines the text that shows up on that page's title bar when displayed; it is also used as data in many Web search engines.

token ring The second most common type of local-area networking technology, token ring is always and forever associated with IBM because they helped to develop and perfect this network type. It takes its name from passing around special permits to transmit called tokens in a ring-shaped pattern around the network, that gives all attached devices a fair chance to broadcast information when they need to.

toolbar A linear collection of icons or other small images (like the ones displayed near the top of most modern, GUI-based applications) that supplies a set of common controls for a Web site.

transparent GIF A specially-rendered GIF image that assumes a background color selected in a browser capable of handling such images. This makes the graphic blend into the existing color scheme and creates a more professional-looking Web page.

tree structure(d) (See hierarchical structure) Computer scientists like to think of hierarchies in graphical terms, which makes them look like upside-down trees (a single root at the top, multiple branches below). File systems and genealogies are examples of tree structured organizations that we're all familiar with, but they abound in the computer world. This type of structure also works well for certain Web document sets, especially larger, more complex ones.


UNIX shell The name of the command-line program used to manage user-computer interaction, the shell can also be used to write CGI scripts and other kinds of useful programs for UNIX.

UNIX The operating system of choice for the Internet community at large (and Web community, too), UNIX offers a broad range of tools, utilities, and programming libraries to Web servers.

URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) Any of a class of objects that identify resources available to the Web; both URLs and URNs are instances of URIs.

URL (Uniform Resource Locator) The primary naming scheme used to identify Web resources, URLs define the protocols to be used, the domain name of the Web server where a resource resides, the port address to be used for communication, and the directory path to access a named Web file or resource.

URL-encoded text A method for passing information requests and URL specification to Web servers from browsers, URL encoding replaces spaces with plus signs (+) and substitutes special hex codes for a range of otherwise unreproduceable characters. This method is used to pass document queries from browsers to servers. (For the details, please consult Chapter 18.)

URN (Uniform Resource Name) A permanent, unchanging name for a Web resource, URNs are seldom used on today's Web. URNs do present a method guaranteed to obtain access to a resource, as soon as it can be fully resolved. (For that reason, URNs sometimes consist of human or organizational contact information, instead of resource location data.)

Usenet An Internet protocol and service that provides access to a vast array of named newsgroups, where users congregate to exchange information and materials related to specific topics or concerns.


V.32 CCITT standard for a 9.6 Kbps two-wire, full-duplex modem operating on a regular dial-up or 2-wire leased lines.

V.32bis Newer higher-speed CCITT standard for full-duplex transmission on two-wire leased and dial-up lines at rates from 4.8 to 14.4 Kbps.

V.34 The newest high-speed CCITT standard for full-duplex transmission on two-wire leased and dial-up lines at rates from 4.8 to 28.8 Kbps.

V.42 CCITT error correction standard that can be used with V.32, V.32bis, and V.34.

V.42bis CCITT data compression standard, capable of compressing files on the fly at an average rate of 3.5:1. It can yield speeds of up to 38.4 Kbps on a 9.6 Kbps modem, and up to 115.2 Kbps on a 28.8 modem. If your modem can do this, try to find an Internet service provider that also supports V.42bis. This feature can pay for itself very quickly.

VAX/VMS A VAX is a widely used Digital Equipment Corporation computer; VMS (Virtual Memory System) is the name of DEC's proprietary operating system. Today, many VAXes run UNIX instead of VMS.

Veronica A search tool to navigate the global collection of Gopher servers, collectively called Gopherspace.

VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) A special-purpose, three-dimensional, object-oriented programming language devised to support the creation of full-blown “virtual spaces” or “virtual worlds” for online access. VRML plug-ins or helper applications are available for most modern Web browsers, and permit properly-equipped users to explore three-dimensional spaces and environments through the Web.


WAIS (Wide-Area Information Service) A collection of programs that implement a specific protocol for information retrieval, able to index large-scale collections of data around the Internet. WAIS provides content-oriented query services to WAIS clients and is one of the more powerful Internet search tools available.

Web pages Synonym for HTML documents, we use Web pages in this book to refer to sets of related, interlinked HTML documents, usually produced by a single author or organization.

Web server A computer, usually on the Internet, that plays host to httpd and related Web-service software.

Web Shorthand for the World Wide Web (or W3), we also use Web in this book to refer to a related, interlinked set of HTML documents.

Web site An addressed location, usually on the Internet, that provides access to the set of Web pages that correspond to the URL for a given site; thus, a Web site consists of a Web server and a named collection of Web documents, both accessible through a single URL.

white space The breathing room on a page, this refers to the parts of a document or display that aren't occupied by text or other visual elements. A certain amount of white space is essential to make documents attractive and readable.

Windows (a.k.a. MS-Windows) Microsoft's astonishingly popular (and sometimes frustrating) GUI environment for PCs, Windows is the GUI of choice for most desktop computer users.

WinWeb The Windows version of a popular Web browser developed at MCC.

World Wide Web (a.k.a. WWW or W3) The complete collection of all Web servers available on the Internet, which comes close to containing the sum of human knowledge.

WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) A term used to describe text editors or other layout tools that attempt to show their users on-screen what final, finished documents look like.


X Windows The GUI of choice for UNIX systems, X Windows offers a graphical window, icon, and mouse metaphor similar to (but much more robust and powerful than) Microsoft Windows.


E-Mail: HTML for Dummies at

Text - Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1997 Ed Tittel & Stephen N. James. 
For Dummies, the Dummies Man logo and Dummies Press are trademarks or registered trademarks of Wiley Publishing, Inc. Used with Permission.
Web Layout - Copyright © 1997, LANWrights
Revised -- May, 2002 [MCB]