Some Web Developers Abbreviations

There’s no doubt about it, the web is absolutely drowning in technical acronyms. So today we’re going to dump them all into an article and try to explain the meaning of each one.

The 51 acronyms in this article are arranged mostly in alphabetical order, although ones derived from others are listed next to the ones they are derived from.


No, not the cleaning products. Asynchronous JavaScript And XML is a web programming technique in JavaScript that enables a portion(s) of a web page to be reloaded from the server without the whole page being reloaded. The data is sent to and from the server using either XML or JSON.

What are XML and JSON? Fear not, they’re covered here too.


The American Standard Code for Information Interchange is one of many character encoding schemes. A character encoding scheme assigns binary codes to characters such as letters, numbers and symbols, so that computers have a way of reading text that we write.

For more information on character encoding, we recommend this article by David C. Zentgraf.


Active Server Pages was a back-end technology by Microsoft for generating dynamic web pages, which has been replaced now by ASP.NET. ASP files have the file extension .asp.


.aspx is the file extension for files built on Microsoft’s ASP.NET web framework.


Common Gateway Interface is a back-end scripting system for websites.


Cascading Style Sheets are files which contain a list of rules for how a website should be displayed. CSS controls things like fonts, colors, layout and spacing.


As you may have guessed, CSS3 is meant to mean the third ‘generation’ of CSS. It’s really more of a buzzword than an official version number, and refers to the new abilities added to CSS in recent times, such as animation and photo filters.


Comma Separated Values is a format for storing tabular data.


The Domain Name System is what links the domain name you type into your browser address bar, to the IP address where that site is really located.

An analogy for explaining DNS is that it serves as the ‘phone book’ of the internet.


The Document Object Model is an important concept in JavaScript. It’s the system JavaScript uses to access the hierarchy of HTML elements on a web page.


The Document Type Definition is a line or two of code at the top of a markup language document, like HTML or XML, which defines the language and standard that the document is adhering to.

A doctype often looks like this, and is often forgotten:

<!DOCTYPE html>


ECMAScript is the family of scripting languages to which JavaScript belongs, as well as other languages such as ActionScript, used in Adobe Flash. ECMA used to stand for theEuropean Computer Manufacturer’s Association, but it’s no longer considered an acronym.


File Transfer Protocol is the system you use for uploading files to a website.


Graphics Interchange Format is one of many image formats used on the web. GIFs are unique in that they’re often animated.


Hypertext Markup Language is the language that every single web page on the internet is written in.


Dynamic Hypertext Markup Language is somewhat of an old-fashioned term, but it refers to the use of HTML, CSS and JavaScript to create a dynamic, interactive website, as opposed to a static one.


Like CSS3, HTML5 is more of a buzzword than a formal ‘version’ of HTML. It normally refers to the latest specification document and the new abilities that browsers have added to HTML, such as native embedding of video and audio.


.phtml was a file extension used for PHP files, but has fallen out of use. These days the only extension we need to worry about is .php.


Extensible Hypertext Markup Language is a special version of HTML where the document gets read by the browser as XML instead of HTML.

An XHTML file has the same .html file extension as normal HTML, but uses a different doctype. These days, you don’t need to worry about a special XHTML doctype, you should use <!DOCTYPE html> instead.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol is the system used by browsers to download web pages and display them on-screen.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol (Secure) is a secured version of HTTP used by many websites handling personal information, such as banks.


An Integrated Development Environment is software designed for programmers to write, debug and test their code.


You know what Internet Explorer is, but you may not know that it’s often referred to as IE for short.


This is a file format for images, developed by the Joint Photographic Experts Group. It’s designed for photos and not computer-generated graphics and uses file extensions .jpegor .jpg.


Again, you know what JavaScript is, it’s a front-end scripting language, but it’s also called JS for short.


JavaScript Object Notation, pronounced Jason, is a format for storing data. It’s based on JavaScript, but can be used by other languages too.


Not a Number is the error you get in a programming language when you try to calculate something like "potato" + 100.


Object Oriented Programming is a programming paradigm which is based around the concepts of objects and classes.


Open Source Software is software where the source code is freely available for anyone to read and modify. An example of open source software is WordPress.


Free and Open Source Software, or Free, Libre Open Source Software is open source software that’s also free.


Portable Document Format is a document format that preserves formatting, often used on the web.


A server scripting language originally called Personal Home Page, but renamed to PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. PHP is the most widely used server language on the web.


Portable Network Graphics is another image file format used on the web.


Ruby on Rails is a popular framework written in the Ruby programming language.


Search Engine Optimization is the use of certain on-site and off-site strategies to increase search engine traffic to a website.


Structured Query Language is a programming language for creating, editing and deleting web databases. It’s the only language of its kind and is supported by all web database software.


Microsoft SQL Server is web database software designed for use with ASP.NET.


MySQL is open source web database software designed for use with PHP.


Scalable Vector Graphics is a format used a lot on the web for graphics that can be scaled to any size without becoming ‘pixelated’. SVG files are written in the XML language.

To learn more about SVG, try this SVG tutorial.


A Top Level Domain is a domain name extension such as .com, .net or .org.


User Interface is the design and appearance of a program or software.


While a Uniform Resource Locator and a Uniform Resource Identifier are not the same thing technically, both are used to refer to the address of a web page.


Unicode Transmission Format is another character encoding scheme, more powerful than ASCII.

For more information on character encoding, we recommend this article by David C. Zentgraf.


User Experience is a concept closely related to UI, and is concerned more with the way a user interacts with a program or website.

WWW / W3

Who doesn’t know that WWW stands for World Wide Web? Well, if you didn’t, you do now. W3 is a bit less common though, also standing for World Wide Web.


The World Wide Web Consortium is the entity that, although it doesn’t own the web, makes important decisions and recommendations regarding it.


A what you see is what you get program is an editor that lets you bypass writing HTML code and simply design a web page as you see it. It writes the HTML itself, however a computer will never be able to write code as well as you can, so it’s best not to use one.


Extensible Markup Language is a format based on HTML which is used to store data in a hierarchical fashion. It’s a ubiquitous format used both online and offline.


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