Website Programming Terminology

by Claire Minnaar

Let’s start at the very beginning. When a website needs to be developed and put together, the person behind it (usually referred to as the webmaster) has to programme a particular design using a certain technology or a combination thereof. Here’s the standard list and what they mean:

HTML = Hypertext Markup Language

HTML is web language which is made of elements, commonly referred to as tags, which allow your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Google Chrome, etc…) to understand how the website must look e.g. where things should be displayed and how the text must look and read.

ASP = Active Server Pages

ASP is a Microsoft Language that allows web developers to do more advanced functionality that requires the main server, where your website is hosted, to do a little more involved processing e.g. get information from a database, do advanced logic processing / calculations, etc…

PHP = Hypertext Preprocessor

The concept of PHP is the same as ASP (see above), but this is a language that is typically found at hosting companies that host websites on p Linux, Unix or Solaris Platforms.


JavaScript is a language that is very useful. It allows web developers to do less intense functionality that does not necessarily require the website to refresh the page or to have to go back to the server to pull information. A typical example of where you can see JavaScript working would include when little pop-ups get displayed as you try to submit a form.

CSS – Cascading Style Sheets

CSS has advanced quite a bit since I started in the web industry. CSS is the technology that allows web developers to style elements on a particular page e.g. fonts, colours, spacing, sizes, and so on.

Cold Fusion

Cold Fusion is an Adobe programming language and is able to run on Linux, Unix, Solaris and Windows.


Java is a programming language developed by SUN. Java is a fantastic option when developing particular types of systems. You will often hear about Java programmes as a “web applet”.

JSP – Java Server Pages

Same concept as ASP and PHP, but mostly used on Linux, Unix and Solaris platforms.

VBScript – Visual Basic Script

VBScript is a Microsoft language used most often when doing development using ASP (see above).

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