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Updated: Feb 7, 2022

By Keisha A. Mitchell


So you want to build the next best web app or site but not quite sure where to start? The "back end" is where you’ll wanna begin. Here is where your data and basic functionality will live to make your application or page(s) come to life. But before you can walk the walk, it’s important to know how to talk the talk. let me help you learn the names of the tools you’ll use and the terms you’ll need to understand so you can get better acquainted with the world on the other side of the screen.

This glossary is divided by the elements of the back end that they pertain to, terms are listed in alphabetical order within each category.


A list of languages that you may want to learn so that your bottom line doesn't get lost in translation.


Stands for "Hypertext Markup Language"; provides the foundation of a website and dictates a sites' basic layout.


Programming Language created for the construction of web applications, etc. Not synonymous with Javascript.


Programming language used to develop dynamic animations and interactive features for websites. Popular because of it's infinite uses.


Stands for "Hypertext Preprocessor"; typically has general use as a scripting language within web development.


Programming Language known for it's popularity in data and information management projects, and increasing use in software development. Also acclaimed for it's ease of use.


Programming Language distinguished by it's simple syntax and diverse use.


Stands for "Structured Query Language"; Language that's used to probe or access information from relational databases or their types.


Though these frameworks are put in place to deliver the finished project on the frontend, you may need to know how the two are tethered together and what technologies are being used to construct the other side of things. By no means is this an exhaustive list, rather a collection of popular technologies you may encounter.

Angular :

Created by, google this is a framework used to create single page applications consisting of Typescript and HTML.


Open source framework created by Facebook that features a component based,elemental syntax. Popular because of it's versatility and dynamism.

Ruby on the Rails:

Ruby centric framework used for web development.

Applications/Systems and Programs:

When doing development work or collaborating with Engineers, there are a host of programs, applications, and systems that are in your toolkit for building something special. These are common acronyms, terms, and programs you may become acquainted with.


A system provided and conceived by Microsoft that offers "cloud computing" services.


Stands for Application Programming Interface; A type of code that connects two programs with the ability to exchange information between them.


Stands for Amazon Web Services; offers on demand cloud computing services such as platforms and APIs.


An application that allows end users to see websites. Safari, Firefox, Chrome, etc are all web browsers.

CLI / Command Prompt:

The command prompt is a text based user interface the functions as an input field for commands to an operating system or program as well as management of computer files .



Stands for "Infrastructure as a service"; a model that cloud computing providers use to provides customers with networking resources.


Open source operating system, based on Unix (a multi-user operating system).

Operating system:

The software that allows programs and applications to run on devices while also facilitating interaction of those programs with the hardware of the device (i.e; iOS, Microsoft Windows, Linux, etc).


Stands for "Platform as a service"; a model that cloud computing providers use to provides customers with servers, databases, etc.


Stands for "Software as a Service"; Cloud computing service that offers software developed by third parties or companies to customers via license.


Refers to the creation and hosting of backend services that are developed in the "Cloud" as opposed to a physical server.

Web Service:

Runs on servers and performs actions initiated by input or request (for example, APIs) and generally returns structured data.


Intangible and tangible locations and tools that hold information, data, and space for you to interact with and test your projects.


A partition or division within a program that is used to modify aspects of an overall system or project without changing the original program. Can refer to a copy of a whole program or just a piece of an original program.


A collection of servers working together to perform niche tasks like storing user data, hosting web sites and platforms, etc.


The computer terminal where a Programmer may test code commands and see the output in real time.


Stands for Google Cloud Platform; a host of cloud computing services that function on the same system that Googles' consumer products use.


This is a cloud based platform used for Git. Popular amongst developers primarily because of it's capacity to both store and build software and other projects, GITHUB also hosts code.


A PaaS that affords Developers the capacity to build, host, ,and operate their applications entirely from a cloud.

Open Source:

Software that has source code that is open to modification and shared by redistribution to the masses.

Software Wizard:

Program that has a user follow ordered steps to achieve a specific outcome.

Code Validator:

An application that verifies the quality and composure of code to make sure it's in compliance with standard syntax and best practices.

IP Address:

Multinumeric string that catalogues unique computers on the internet.


A collection of resources (assets, programs, components etc) that are meant for reuse. Developers utilize libraries to enhance and simplify construction.


This refers to the connections formed by multiple computer systems tethered together via a means of transmission that allows for them to share data.


Runtime environment used for displaying Javascript outside of a browser. Built on Chromes' V8 Javascript engine.


An API platform used to create and integrate other APIs.


An opensource database management system that works with both JSON and SQL queries.


A tool that allows users to interact with PostgreSQL database information.


A standalone environment that allows Developers to work with the software or code outside of the environment it's being developed for.


Computer or program that both houses and shares data with other computers or programs.


Stands for Uniform Resource Locator; Refers to the exact locations of a web file, site, or page and contains five parts; scheme, subdomain. top-level domain, second -level domain, and sub directory. Also referred to as a "Path"


The Backend is both a cornerstone for storing your data

as well as a bastion of built-in protections. Here are some terms you may want to know:


Refers to the process of cross referencing credentials given by an end user with those registered in the database.


Refers to a text file that contains small singular pieces of data (i.e; passwords, encrypted info, etc). Cookies are used to distinguish unique devices on a larger computer network.


A data structure that consists of tables and fields. It is how information is stored for reference and use by programs or applications. SQL or structured query language is the means through which these pieces of information are accessed.


The act of transforming data into an encoded format to mask the true values represented. Proper keys are then necessary for decryption.


Stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol"; Standard method with which insecure data is transmitted over the internet.


Stands for "Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure";This is a protected version of HTTP - the basic method used to send data between websites and web browsers.


Data that catalogs and categorizes information (size, location, timestamp, etc) about other pieces of data.


Stands for "Virtual Private Network"; Refers to a secure connection connected from internet to device that is encrypted.


Stands for "Extensible Markup Language"; A file written using XML -a language strictly used to house, describe, and exchange information across networks (i.e, the internet).


Coding Terms and techniques you may encounter working behind the scenes.


A website element viewed as text, image, etc that gives users access to web pages via clicking on them.


Stands for "Javascript Object Notation"; a standard for data transmission over networks that focuses on object like syntax.


Refers to the act of combining two separate branches of code together.


A series of characters that can contain any variety of numbers, letters,special characters, etc.

Alt Text:

Text that is used to provide an alternate description for the item or image held within the tag.

Browser extension:

Software that allows users to expand the functionality of their web browsers; web page modification, service integration, and experience customization.


A series of commands issues for execution in a program or scripting engine.


Refers to a remote device that interacts with a network to which it's connected. It can also refer to the final destination of a HTTP request when building pathways to data stored on future site pages.


Various values assigned to objects that define characteristics of objects . They type of values are contingent on the programming language being used.


Stands for "software as service"; a model that cloud computing providers use to provides customers with servers, databases, etc.

General Jargon:

Miscellaneous phrases and terminology that'll help you further learn the lingo.


Compilation/Compiler: Program that converts commands written in plain speak into binary language so the computer can execute the prompts.


Refers to a programs' ability to run multiple functions independent of one another in the background while the end user is interacting with the main interface of a program or app. Metaphorically, it would be analogous to multiple people working on building a car together to complete it's construction while the driver is already at it's wheel, as opposed to an assembly line of people working on building the car systematically (piece by piece) before a driver can sit inside of it.

Backend Development:

Refers to the code dedicated to the operation and functionality of data systems and events. It is the development of things like operating systems and databases (things unseen but needed by end-users.


Faulty or malfunctioning feature or occurrence in a program or on a device causing errors or other unintended results.

Cloud Computing:

A myriad of computing services such as storage, data management, servers etc offered from the internet ('cloud") that allow users to scale and manage their IT in a cost effective manner. Clouds can have a variety of models and typically services are categorized in one of four ways: IaaS, PaaS, Serverless, and SaaS..


Text notated in programming languages that serves as the basis of communication and interaction between Developers and computer software


Acronym for "Create, Read, Update, Delete"; four fundamental data storage operations performed typically when clients are interacting with services.


The implementation or launch of an application or website after it's completely built, developed and tested.


Stands for "Dynamic Hyper Text Markup Language"; Generally referencing Javascript, HTML and CSS, this term refers to a variety of command capacities used to execute interactive web pages or websites.

End User(s):

A term that refers to the consumer or persons that a program, service ,or hardware was designed for. The individual that will interact with the finished product.


A platform that is built upon a mixture of application, code and prefabricated elements meant to be utilized as a tool by Programmers and Engineers for project building.

Full-Stack Developer:

A Developer who can can engineer the code and applications necessary to run and tether the front and back ends of a website together.


The tangible, physical parts of a computer (i,e; hard drive, keyboards, RAM etc.)


Stands for "Internet Service Provider"; this is the entity allows access, use and collaboration on the internet.


Stands for "Minimal Viable Product"; references the most basic version of a project or product that can demonstrate customer value.


Various forms of media (audio, visual, literary, etc.) being used at once.


Summary of a website that shows the order and priority of the pages so they can be indexed by search engines.


Refers to any scripts, programs or applications that run on a computer or device. Physically intangible, it is the opposite of hardware.


Refers to the formal rules of written and spoken language used when constructing lines of code and choosing proper symbology within programming languages.


REST stands for "Representational State Transfer" ; A RESTful API is an application programming interface that's structured within the constraints of REST (a system of data protocols and commands ) for use with RESTful web services, software, and applications.

Now that you’ve learned the fundamentals, utilizing the jargon to help you articulate your vision for the behind the scenes aspects of your web creation will be a lot easier. Whether you’re hands on in the construction of the backend environment or leading the project as a manager or client, you can be confident that you and the developers on your team will speak the same language and hopefully, able to keep your intentions from getting lost in translation.

Let me know if this helped or if there’s anything we should add at

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