Glossary of Tech Terms

Are you new to the world of computer science and tech and left feeling at times that there is an entirely new language you have to learn?  Do you wonder what certain terms mean but aren’t sure who to ask?  Like, what is the difference between a bit or byte?

Nextech has assembled a glossary of terms often heard when describing computer science or used in hi-tech companies and roles.  This list is in no way complete; however, it should be a good starting point for the definitions that will come most in handy.

  • Accessibility

    The design of products, devices, services, or environments taking into consideration the ability for all users to access, including people who experience disabilities or those who are limited by older or slower technology.

  • Agile or Agile Development

    Agile software development refers to a group of software development methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams. Agile methods or Agile processes generally promote a disciplined project management process that encourages frequent inspection and adaptation, a leadership philosophy that encourages teamwork, self-organization and accountability, a set of engineering best practices intended to allow for rapid delivery of high-quality software, and a business approach that aligns development with customer needs and company goals.

  • Algorithm

    A list of steps to finish a task.

  • API

    Application Programming Interface - How computers and web applications share information with each other.

  • Application

    Type of software also called “app” and often used to refer to mobile device software.

  • Attribute

    More information about element contents that are in the opening tag and made up of the attribute name, an equal sign, and a value in double quotes.
    Example: alt=”My image”.

  • Back End

    Part of a website or web service that makes it work and includes applications, web servers, and databases.

  • Behavior

    An action that a sprite performs continuously until it’s told to stop.

  • Big Data

    Massively large sets of digital information.

  • Binary

    A way of representing information using only two options.

  • Binary Alphabet

    The two options used in your binary code.

  • Bit

    A bit is the smallest unit of information that can be stored or manipulated on a computer; it consists of either zero or one. Depending on meaning, implication, or even style, it could instead be described as false/true, off/on, no/yes, and so on. We can also call a bit a binary digit, especially when working with the 0 or 1 values.

  • Block-based Programming Language

    Any programming language that lets users create programs by manipulating “blocks” or graphical programing elements, rather than writing code using text. Examples include Code Studio, Scratch, Blockly, and Swift. (Sometimes called visual coding, drag and drop programming, or graphical programming blocks)

  • Blockly

    The visual programming language used in's online learning system for K-5 students.

  • Bug

    Mistake or unwanted piece of code that keeps a website or program from working like it should.

  • Call (a function)

    This is the piece of code that you add to a program to indicate that the program should run the code inside a function at a certain time.

  • Call (a variable)

    Use a variable in a program.

  • Click

    Press the mouse button.

  • Code

    The language that programmers create and use to tell a computer what to do.

  • Command

    An instruction for the computer. Many commands put together make up algorithms and computer programs.

  • Computational Thinking

    Modifying a problem in such a way that it can be modeled or solved using a computer or machine. Strategies include: decomposition, pattern matching, abstraction, algorithms.

  • Computer Science

    Using the power of computers to solve problems.

  • Condition

    A statement that a program checks to see if it is true or false. If true, an action is taken. Otherwise, the action is ignored.

  • Conditionals

    Statements that only run under certain conditions.

  • Data

    Information. Often, quantities, characters, or symbols that are the inputs and outputs of computer programs.

  • Data Architecture

    How data is collected, stored, accessed, and used in companies and organizations.

  • Data Modeling

    Determining what kind of data is needed and how it will be structured and organized.

  • Data Visualization

    Using graphs, charts, tables, infographics, etc. to better tell about data and findings from it.

  • Database

    Collection of electronic information, aka data.

  • Debugging

    Finding and fixing problems in an algorithm or program.

  • Declaration

    CSS code inside pair of curly brackets which has property and value for the selector.

    Example: {font-size: 1.5em;}

  • Decompose

    Break a problem down into smaller pieces.

  • Define (a function)

    Figure out the details of the problems that you are trying to solve.

  • Element

    HTML code made up of an opening tag, a closing tag, and information between them.

    Example: 〈p〉This is my paragraph!〈/p〉

  • Event

    An action that causes something to happen.

  • Event

    An action that causes something to happen.

  • Event Handler

    A monitor for a specific event or action on a computer. When you write code for an event handler, it will be executed every time that event or action occurs. Many event-handlers respond to human actions such as mouse clicks.

  • Event Handler

    A monitor for a specific event or action on a computer. When you write code for an event handler, it will be executed every time that event or action occurs. Many event-handlers respond to human actions such as mouse clicks.

  • F.A.I.L

    First Attempt In Learning. When you try to do something, but you don't do it quite right.

  • F.A.I.L

    First Attempt In Learning. When you try to do something, but you don't do it quite right.

  • Fiber optic cable

    A connection that uses light to transmit information.

  • Fiber optic cable

    A connection that uses light to transmit information.

  • For loop

    A loop with a predetermined beginning, end, and increment (step interval).

  • For Loop

    A loop with a predetermined beginning, end, and increment (step interval).

  • Framework

    Collection of programs and components used in software development.

    Example: Ruby on Rails, Bootstrap, AngularJS, Joomla

  • Front End

    Part of a website that can be seen by users and includes HTML and CSS.

  • Frustrated

    Feeling annoyed or angry because something is not the way you want it.

  • HTML

    HyperText Markup Language

    Coding language used to put content on a web page and give it structure.

  • HTML5

    The most current version of HTML.

  • Hybrid App

    Application that will work on different platforms and is a combination of a native app and a web app.

  • IDE

    Integrated development environment - Application used for software development.

    Example: Eclipse, Visual Studio, VIM

  • Identity theft

    When a thief steals someone’s private information in order to pretend to be that person.

  • If-Statement

    The common programming structure that implements "conditional statements".

  • Information Architecture

    Information architecture involves the way a website is structured and how the content is organized. Like building architects, information architects for the digital space create a blueprint for a website or app by categorizing everything that needs to go into it.

  • Input

    A way to give information to a computer.

  • Internet

    A group of computers and servers that are connected to each other.

  • Internet of Things

    The Internet of Things, commonly abbreviated "IoT," is an umbrella term that refers to anything connected to the Internet. It includes traditional computing devices, such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones, but also includes a growing list of other devices that have recently become Internet enabled.

  • IP address

    A number assigned to any item that is connected to the Internet.

  • Iteration

    A repetitive action or command typically created with programming loops.

  • Loop

    The action of doing something over and over again.

  • Meta Elements

    Elements that give the browser more information about the whole web page.

    Example: title, link, meta

  • Mood Board

    Collection of content showing the visual style for a website including color palette, images, icons, fonts, etc.

  • Native App

    Application that’s been made specifically for a certain device platform.

    Example: Mail for iOS; Ingress for Android

  • NFC

    Near Field Communication - Technology that lets mobile and other devices communicate using radio waves when they’re very close to each other (about 4 inches or less) and is used for services like sharing files, pairing with accessories, or wireless payments.

  • Object-Oriented Programming (OOP)

    Programming that allows the creation of objects that have specific and unique attributes and abilities.

    Example of OOP language: Ruby, PHP, Python

  • Online

    Connected to the Internet.

  • Opening Tag & Closing Tag

    Set of angle brackets with an HTML element character(s) that contains a piece of content or part of the structure for a web page.

    Example of opening tag: 〈p〉
    Example of closing tag: 〈/p〉

  • Output

    A way to get information out of a computer.

  • Packets

    Small chunks of information that have been carefully formed from larger chunks of information.

  • Parameter

    An extra piece of information passed to a function to customize it for a specific need.

  • Pattern matching

    Finding similarities between things.

  • Persistence

    Trying again and again, even when something is very hard.

  • Personal Information

    Information that can’t be used to identify you.

  • Pixel

    Short for "picture element", the fundamental unit of a digital image, typically a tiny square or dot that contains a single point of color of a larger image.

  • Prepare

    Research, plan, and acquire materials for the activity you are about to do

  • Private Information

    Information that can be used to identify you.

  • Program

    An algorithm that has been coded into something that can be run by a machine.

  • Reflect

    Carefully think back on something with the intention of improving the outcome in the future

  • Register (online)

    To enter your information in order to sign up and get access to a website.

  • Relational Database Management System

    System for handling digital information using tables.

    Example: SAP, MySQL

  • Repeat

    To do something again.

  • Responsive

    Website that adapts gracefully to different-sized devices like phones, tablets, wearable devices, etc.

  • Run Program

    Cause the computer to execute the commands you've written in your program.

  • SDK

    Software Development Kit - Set of tools for creating certain kinds of software.

  • Search engine

    A program that searches for and identifies items in a database that correspond to keywords or characters specified by the user, used especially for finding particular sites on the World Wide Web.

  • Selector

    Part of CSS code that tells which HTML element the styling is for.

    Example with p as selector: p {font-size: 12px;}

  • Self-Closing Tag

    Opening tag that doesn’t have a closing tag but instead “closes itself” with a forward slash before the right angle bracket.

    Example: 〈img src=”” alt=”My image”/〉

  • Semantic Element

    Element that gives the browser more information about the content in it.

    Example: em, abbr, s

  • Sequencing

    Putting commands in correct order so computers can read the commands.

  • Servers

    Computers that exist only to provide things to others.

  • Sitemap

    Outline, or map, of the pages needed for a website

  • Software

    Program or set of instructions that tells a computer, phone, or tablet what to do and includes applications and system software like operating systems, drivers, and utilities.

  • Text Editor

    Software used to write plain text (with no formatting) that’s used for coding and programming.

    Example: SublimeText, TextEdit, TextWrangler, Notepad++

  • Toolbox

    The tall grey bar in the middle section of's online learning system that contains all of the commands you can use to write your program.

  • Trustworthy

    Able to be relied on as honest or truthful.

  • Try

    Attempt to do something

  • User Interface (UI)

    User interface focuses on the tools people use to interact with a website or mobile app. UI designers stylize and visually enhance wireframes that UX designers have created. Buttons, menus, and slider bars are just a few of the key components that enable you to accomplish tasks on a website or app.

  • Until

    A command that tells you to do something only up to the point that something becomes true.

  • URL (universal resource locator)

    An easy-to-remember address for calling a web page (like

  • User Flow

    Map of the path users take from getting to a website through taking one of an action on the site.

  • User Persona

    Profile of an imaginary person who would use a website used to define who a site is for and what their needs are.

  • User Research

    Investigating how users act and what they need and want to better design a website for them.

  • Username

    A name you make up so that you can see or do things on a website, sometimes called a “screen name.”

  • User Experience

    User experience is how people use your website or app and if it enables them to do what they need to do without confusion. By doing user research, creating wireframes and prototypes, and conducting usability tests, UX design focuses on making the product easy to use and providing users with the best experience possible.

  • Value

    Setting for a CSS property.

    Example: 1.5em, red, 20px

  • Variable

    A placeholder for a piece of information that can change.

  • Version Control

    System to keep track of changes to code and files and allows going back to earlier versions.

    Example: Git

  • Visual Design

    Visual design typically involves bringing products and digital assets to life, from concept to execution. Visual designers translate a company’s visual language to create functional, consistent, and beautiful products for mobile devices and the web, as well as marketing materials. Their focus is on the digital space—not print.

  • Web APP

    Website that looks and feels like an app.

    Also called “HTML5 app”

  • Web Design

    Web design refers to both the aesthetic portion of the website and it’s usability. Web designers use various design programs such as Adobe Photoshop to create the layout and other visual elements of the website.

  • Web Development

    Web development governs all the code that makes a website tick. It can be split into two categories—front-end and back-end. The front-end or client-side of an application is the code responsible for determining how the website will actually display the designs mocked up by a designer. The back-end or server-side of an application is responsible for managing data within the database and serving that data to the front-end to be displayed.

  • Web Server

    Computer that can be accessed through the internet or software that responds to server requests.

  • Website

    A collection of interlinked web pages on the World Wide Web.

  • While loop

    A loop that continues to repeat while a condition is true.

  • Wi-Fi

    A wireless method of sending information using radio waves.

  • Wireframe

    Simple sketch of the key information that goes on each web page.

  • Workspace

    The white area on the right side of's online learning system where you drag and drop commands to build your program.

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