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E-Business Glossary

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  • 24/7

    The operation of a site or service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


  • acceptable use policy

    (AUP) An acceptable use policy outlines the conduct expected from a computer user. Businesses, schools, and ISPs create AUPs to prohibit spamming, piracy, pornography, and other inappropriate/illegal uses.

  • ADSL

    (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) A technology that allows more data to be sent over existing copper telephone lines. ADSL supports data rates of from 1.5 to 9 Mbps when receiving data (known as downstream rate) and from 16 to 640 Kbps when sending data (known as upstream rate).

  • affiliate marketing

    Affiliates include descriptions, ratings, reviews, or other information about another firm’s product on their web site.

    In a pay-per-click model, affiliates receive a commission each time the client loads the seller’s page. In the pay-per conversion model, affiliates only receive commissions on qualified prospects or click-throughs that result in a sale.

  • Alberta SuperNet

    Alberta SuperNet is a high-speed, high-capacity broadband network linking 4,700 government offices, schools, health-care facilities and libraries in 422 Alberta communities.

    The SuperNet will enable government, educators and health care workers to share and deliver information and services province-wide, and faster than ever before. ISPs can "piggyback" onto the Alberta SuperNet network and offer high-speed services to areas that, until now, have been too expensive or difficult to reach.

    Visit for more information

  • algorithm

    An algorithm is like a recipe; it provides a set of steps, or formula, to solve a particular problem. Search engines, for example, use an algorithm to rank web sites.


    The ARPANET was the first name for the Internet, which was developed in 1969 by the United States Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA). At that time, the wide-area network (WAN) was used strictly for military and research purposes.

  • ASP

    (application service provider) In essence, ASPs provide a way for companies to outsource some of their information technology needs (e.g., logistics, joint billing, digital asset management, online payment processing, online sales). You lease the use of your ASP’s software applications instead of building the software from scratch.

    Consider your home phone line, for example. You pay for access to a telecommunications network that someone else has built.

  • authentication

    The process of identifying an individual, usually based on a username and password.


  • B2B

    (Also B-to-B and business-to-business e-commerce) Business-to-business e-commerce refers to the exchange of services, information and/or products between businesses via the web. B2B e-commerce accounts for the lion’s share of sales online.

    (Compare with B2C e-commerce)

  • B2C

    (Also e-tailing, B-to-C, selling online) Business-to-consumer e-commerce refers to the exchange of services, information and/or products from a business to a consumer via the web.

  • backbone

    Part of the Internet that handles the major traffic and employs the highest transmission speeds. At one point, the Internet was actually called the M-Bone, but we digress ;)

  • back end

    All of the processes and components that happen behind the scenes (e.g., database management system, server, server-side applications).

  • bandwidth

    The amount of data that can pass through your Internet connection in a fixed period of time. Usually measured in bits per second (bps). Sometimes referred to as “pipe”.

  • banner ad

    Rectangular ads often seen on web sites. Banner advertising remains a popular revenue model on information portals and e-commerce sites. Limited site traffic and click-throughs on many sites have led to mediocre success.

    Banner ads continue to evolve, particularly in terms of sizes, location on page, and interactivity (e.g., banners developed in Flash). Some sites will also display banners that are targeted for a particular user’s interests.

  • blog

    Short form of weblog is a web-based publication consisting of original or cited articles. (e.g., www.efuture. ca/alberta/blog)

  • bookmark

    If you see a web site you love (, bookmark it! Your web browser will allow you to bookmark a site, or save the site’s address, so you can easily visit the page at a later date.

  • brick-and-mortar

    Refers to a traditional “brick-and-mortar” retail location, as opposed to a pure play or “clicks-and-mortar” retailer.

  • broadband

    A type of data transmission in which a single medium (wire) can carry several channels at once. Cable TV, for example, uses broadband transmission.

  • brochureware

    A basic web site that acts as an online brochure. Typical web content includes contact information, product/service overview, company information, a site map, privacy policy, and a FAQ section.

  • buy-side application

    An online venue where one buyer buys from many sellers, frequently through reverse auctions or request for quote applications

    For example, the City of Red Deer might set up a buy-side application on their web site to post tenders or Request for Proposals (RFPs) and receive competitive bids from multiple suppliers.


  • cable modem

    Cable modems are designed to operate over cable TV lines. Because the coaxial cable used by cable TV provides much greater bandwidth than telephone lines, a cable modem can be used to achieve extremely fast access to the World Wide Web. Cable modem speeds range from 500Kbps to 30Mbps.

    There is considerable difference in speed between a modem that operates on telephone lines and a cable modem. For instance, compare a standard modem that operates over telephone lines at about 56,000 bits per second to the slowest (first generation) cable modems, operating at 500,000 bits per second; there would be a difference of 444,000 bits per second.

  • cache

    Pronounced cash. Cache basically refers to short-term computer memory for fast data access. Browsers can hold entire web pages or graphics in cache, so the web page loads more quickly.

  • certification authority

    (CA) A trusted third-party organization or company that issues digital certificates used to create digital signatures and public-private key pairs. The role of the CA in this process is to guarantee that the individual granted the unique certificate is, in fact, who he or she claims to be.

    An individual wishing to send an encrypted message applies for a digital certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA). The CA issues an encrypted digital certificate containing the applicant's public key and a variety of other identification information. The CA makes its own public key readily available through print publicity or perhaps on the Internet.

  • CGI

    (Common Gateway Interface) A specification for transferring information between a web server and a browser. Web forms often use CGI to interface with a back-end database. CGI enables users to receive dynamic content based, as opposed to static HTML pages.

  • chargebacks

    A fraudulent purchase online will result in the credit card company charging back the purchase amount to the customer’s card. The merchant is responsible for a chargeback fee and for the loss of the merchandise.

  • CIRA

    (Canadian Internet Registrar Authority) CIRA is a not-for-profit organization mandated to operate the dot-ca top-level domain. Registrars can become certified to sell dot-ca domain names through CIRA.

  • clicks-and-mortar

    Clicks-and-mortar retailers sell products online and also have a physical, brick-and-mortar location (e.g.,

  • clickstream analysis

    Percentage of people who view a web page, click on one of its banner ads, and load the advertiser’s site.

  • client-side applications

    Scripts or programs that are embedded in a web page and run on the client computer.

  • co-location

    A server, usually a web server, that is located in a facility dedicated to web hosting, which include a secured cage or cabinet, regulated power, dedicated Internet connection, security and support. Most co-location facilities offer high security, including cameras, filtered power, fire detection, extinguishing devices, multiple connection feeds, and backup power generators.

  • content management

    Software that enables businesspeople to create and maintain the content on their web site through template-driven pages, such as the home page, about us pages, product catalogue, and contact pages.

  • cookie

    Cookies are messages that a web server transmits to a web browser so that the web server can keep track of the user's activity on a specific web site.

    Cookies are used to collect demographic information, personalize the user’s experience, and to monitor advertisements.

  • countermeasures

    A physical or logical procedure that recognizes, reduces, or eliminates a potential Internet security threat.

  • CPM

    An Internet advertising pricing metric that equals the dollar amount paid to display 1000 ad impressions. An impression refers to the display of an online ad.

  • CRM

    (Customer relationship management) CRM entails all aspects of service and sales interactions a company has with its customer. CRM often involves personalizing online experiences, help-desk software, and e-mail organizers.

  • cryptography

    The enciphering and deciphering of messages in secret code or cipher. Cryptography is used to protect e-mails, credit card information, and corporate data.

  • CSS

    (cascading style sheets) Style sheets are predefined page displays of elements on a web page, such as headers, text, and navigation. CSS can help ensure consistency throughout a web site and simplify web programming.

  • cyberlaw

    Body of law that deals with the Internet. Cyberlaw includes areas such as copyright, intellectual property, e-contracts, jurisdiction, defamation, privacy, software piracy, domain names vs trade-marks, and other issues.

  • cybermall

    Equivalent of an online mall. Like traditional malls, merchants lease space to sell their products/services.

    Cybermalls often provide clients with payment processing, product display, and security features, plus the infrastructure needed to add, modify, and delete products, manage orders, and maintain a storefront.

  • cybersquatting

    The illegal practice of registering a domain name that is the registered trade-mark of another company with the hope that the trade-mark owner will pay huge amounts of money for the domain rights.


  • data mining

    Looking for hidden patterns and relationships in data to predict future behaviour.

  • database

    Similar to an electronic filing system, a database is a collection of information organized for quick access. Databases are organized by fields (single piece of info), records (complete set of fields), and tables (list of records).

  • deep linking

    A web link to a page on a web site other than its home page. Some companies oppose this practice, because of lost revenues due to visitors bypassing the advertising on the home page.

  • digital certificate

    An attachment to an e-mail message or data embedded in a web page that verifies the identity of a sender or web site.

  • digital signature

    A digital code that can be attached to an electronically transmitted message that uniquely identifies the sender.

  • disintermediation

    The concept of removing intermediaries or middlemen (i.e., agents, distributors, retailers, wholesalers) and selling directly to customers.

  • DNS

    (Domain Name System) An Internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. For example, the domain name translates to Both addresses will take you to the same web site. But it’s much easier for us to remember a word than a string of four numbers.

  • domain name

    A name that identifies one or more IP addresses (e.g., There are several domain name suffxies, called top-level domain names (TLDs), such as:

    .gov (government agencies)

    .mil (US military)

    .org (not-for-profit organizations)

    .com (commercial businesses)

    .ca (Canadian domain names)

    .net (network organizations)

  • dot-com

    (.com) Often used to refer to an online retailer or Internet business and may have a negative connotation due to the highly publicized dot-com crash in 2000.

  • download

    Downloading refers to copying documents or files from the Internet or a network server to your computer. The opposite of download is upload.

    If you have a web site, you need to upload files to your web server to make them available on the Internet.

  • DSL

    (Digital Subscriber Line) DSL technologies allow data to be sent over copper, telephone wires.

  • dynamically generated

    Refers to web content that changes each time it is viewed, based on user preferences, geographic location, time of day, previous pages viewed, or search criteria.The opposite of dynamically generated content is static web content.


  • e-business

    (electronic business) The use of the Internet to facilitate the buying, selling, or exchanging of products and services. E-business extends beyond selling online and impacts management, marketing and sales, operations, and legal aspects of operating your business.

  • e-business plan

    An e-business plan, like a traditional business plan, maps out your business’s strategy. Your e-business plan will pay more attention to the electronic aspect of your business:

    Describe the purpose of your e-business:
    Analysis of your target market, industry, and competition
    Map out your implementation plan. Include all relevant revenues and expenses (e.g., software, hardware, staffing, training, set-up fees)
    Indicate your e-business partners
    Outline your logistics and fulfillment, marketing, and operations strategy
  • e-cash

    (Digital cash) The electronic equivalent of paper money or coins that enables the secure, anonymous purchase of low-priced items over the Internet.

  • e-commerce

    E-commerce and e-business are often used as interchangeable terms. E-business is a broader term that refers to all areas of your e-business strategy — from marketing, finance, and legal issues to sales—while e-commerce refers exclusively to the transactional component.

  • EDI

    (electronic data interchange) Exchange of computer-readable data in a standard format (e.g., purchase orders, invoices, confirmations, bills of lading) between business partners.

    EDI has been around for almost 30 years in the non-Internet environment. Well-known retailers, such as The Home Depot, Toys R Us, and Wal-Mart use EDI as an integral element of their business strategy.


    (Electronic Data Interchange For Administration, Commerce and Transport)

  • EFT

    (electronic funds transfer) Electronic transfer of account exchange information over secure private communication networks.

  • e-learning

    Use of the Internet to enhance teaching and learning styles. E-learning allows for collaboration, personalized learning options, distance learning, and self-study.

  • electronic data interchange

    (See EDI)

  • e-mail

    (electronic mail) Messages that are sent from one user to another (or multiple recipients) via e-mail programs (e.g., Microsoft Outlook, Eudora, Mail). There are also web-based mail services like AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, and literally hundreds of others.

  • e-marketing

    E-marketing is the promotion of a product, company, service, or web site online. E-marketing can include a variety of activities from online advertising, e-mail marketing, search engine optimization (improving the ranking of web sites on search engine results) to online networking.

  • e-marketplace

    A system that enables multiple buyers and suppliers to interact and transact online.

  • encryption

    Translation of data into a secret code. To decrypt and read an encrypted file, you need to have access to a secret key or password.

  • e-procurement

    Online purchasing of goods and services through a web interface.

  • ERP

    (enterprise resource planning) Business software that integrates all facets of a business, including planning, manufacturing, sales, and marketing. As businesses grow, functional silos and incompatibilities between systems develop. ERP software helps break eliminate these silos.

  • ETA

    (Electronic Transactions Act) Alberta legislation related to e-commerce.

  • e-tailing

    Selling products or services online.

  • extranet

    A secure extension of a company’s intranet that allows business partners to access specific company data. A username and password would be required to gain access to information, such as training manuals, pricing and promotional materials, and operations plans.

  • e-zine

    Internet magazine.


  • FAQ

    (Frequently asked questions) The FAQ section of your web site provides answers to common questions related to your business.

  • firewall

    Hardware or software that prevents unauthorized users from gaining access to a private network. The firewall acts almost as a traffic cop that examines and blocks messages that do not conform to the local security policy.

  • Flash

    Have you seen animated graphics or cartoons on the Internet? Chances are they were built using Macromedia Flash, a vector-based animation technology.

    To view Flash files, users will need to download the free Flash plug-in for their browser.

  • FTP

    (File Transfer Protocol) For a web site to be available on the Internet, you will need to plan, design, and program the web site and then transfer the files to a web host’s server. FTP is most commonly used to download files from a server or upload web pages and documents to a server.


  • gateway

    A gateway computer determines the best path for data to travel on the Internet.

  • GIF

    (Graphic Interchange Format) Pronounced giff or jiff. A compressed bit-mapped image format that supports 256 colours. Scanned images and illustrations are commonly saved as GIFs.

    JPEGs are the image format of choice for photos on the Internet.

  • GUI

    (Graphical User Interface) Pronounced goo-ee. The GUI is the interface with which the client interacts. The GUI would include the navigation, buttons, graphic display, layout, design, and functionality.

    Your web site’s GUI should be intuitive and easy to use.


  • hacker

    The term hacker was originally coined to refer to computer enthusiasts. In the late 1980s, however, the media used the term to describe anyone who broke into a computer system without permission.

  • hit

    The retrieval of any item, such as web pages or graphics, from a web server. Hits are a poor measurement of web traffic. For example, if you load a web page that has five graphics on it, the site would record six hits (five graphics and one page file).

    It gets a little more complicated because you may actually be storing these graphics in your Internet cache, which means you wouldn’t have requested any files from the web server.

    Unique visitors, visitor sessions, file downloads, and average user session length provide far more useful data.

  • horizontal portal

    (Also called a hortal, horizontal marketplace, and horizontal exchange) A marketplace that sells products and/or services that can be used in several industries such as office supplies and MROs (maintenance, repairs, and operations items).

  • HTML

    (HyperText Markup Language) A simple scripting language used to create web pages. HTML defines the structure and layout of a web page by using a variety of tags and attributes (e.g., Bold tags).

  • HTTP

    (HyperText Transfer Protocol) The Internet protocol responsible for transferring and displaying web pages. Through HTTP web servers and web browsers are able to communicate with each other.

  • hyperlink

    An HTML tag that allows you to click on some text or an image and link within the document or to another document or web page. Hyperlinks are the most essential ingredient of the World Wide Web.



    (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) The non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions previously performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities.

  • integration

    Refers to how well your web site integrates with legacy (old), database systems, financial systems, your offline strategy, your corporate culture, and proprietary third-party software and application service providers (ASPs).

  • intellectual property

    Intellectual property refers to creations of the mind: inventions, literary and artistic works, and symbols, names, images, and designs used in commerce. Intellectual property issues associated with e-business include technology and content transfer licensing, copyright, trade-marks, domain names, trade secrets, and patents.

  • intermediaries

    A third party between sellers and buyers (e.g., retailers, wholesalers, distributors, agents).

  • Internet

    A self-regulated network connecting millions of computer networks around the globe.

  • Internet auction

    There are several types of online auctions:

    English: Items sold to the highest bidder (also called ascending-price auction or open-outcry auction)

    Dutch: Bidding starts at a high price and drops until a bidder accepts a price (also called descending-price auctions). Popular for perishable food items

    Sealed-bid: Bidders submit their bids independently. The first (first-price sealed-bid auction) or second highest bidder wins (Vickrey auction)

    Yankee: Seller offers multiple identical items with a minimum bid. Winners pay the exact price of their winning bid.

  • Internet directory

    Collection of data organized by topic (e.g., painters, universities, e-business providers, and so on).

    The key difference between getting listed in a directory or search engine is the human interaction. To be listed in a directory, you would request a listing and someone would approve it. Search engine, on the other hand, send out web robots to index and categorize millions of web sites.

  • Internet marketing

    (Also e-marketing and IM) Marketing deals with the 4 Ps of your business: product, price, place, and promotion. Add an Internet element, and you’re involved in Internet marketing.

    Internet marketing can offer lower costs, increased tracking and measurability, 1:1 marketing (mass customization), and more interactivity.

    Here are some common e-marketing topics:

    • Search engine marketing
    • Banner advertising
    • Permission-based e-mail marketing
    • E-newsletters
    • E-zine advertising
    • Affiliate marketing
    • Viral marketing
    • Online PR (publication relations) & media relations

  • Internet presence

    An Internet presence is a combination of:

    • a well-designed web site
    • ongoing site promotion
    • use of the Internet as a communications
    • medium with your customers
    • use of web tools and applications (e.g., e-mail)

  • Internet registrar

    Usually not-for-profit organizations that operate top-level domains., for example, is the Internet registrar that operates the dot-ca (.ca) top-level domain.

    Your first step is to determine whether a particular domain names is available by searching the Internet registrar’s WHOIS database. Your next best bet is to conduct a trade-mark search.

  • interoperability

    The ability of software and hardware on different machines from different vendors to share data.

  • intranet

    A computer network operated within a single company or organization. An intranet’s web site usually shares information on operations, marketing, accounting, projects and initiatives, and client databases. Access is limited to company employees or others with authorization.

  • IP address

    (Internet Protocol) IP by itself is something like the postal system. It allows you to address a package to be sent to another computer connected to the Internet.

  • ISDN

    (Integrated Services Digital Network) High-grade telephone service that uses the DSL protocol to send voice, video, and other data over digital telephone lines or normal telephone wires. ISDN supports data transfer rates of up to 128 Kbps.

  • ISP

    (Internet Service Provider) A company that provides you with access to the Internet for a monthly fee. If you have a modem and an account with your ISP, you will soon be browsing the web, sending e-mail, and buying online.

  • IT

    (information technology) Broad subject related to managing and processing information within a company. IT staff include network administrators, database developers, web developers, consultants, security experts, and other computer professionals.


  • JPEG

    (Joint Photographic Experts Group) Pronounced jay-peg. JPEG is a lossy compression technique that can reduce file sizes to about 5% of their original. This is the most common file format for pictures on the Internet.

    See also GIF.


  • LAN

    (local area network) A small network of computers usually confined to a single building. Files can be shared through LANs, as well as peripheral devices, like laser printers and scanners. Several LANs can be connected via telephone lines, and you’ve got a WAN (wide area network).

  • localization

    The process of adapting your web site for a particular country, taking into account local dialect variations, business and cultural practices, and other factors.


  • META tags

    A special HTML tag that provides information about a web page. Unlike normal HTML tags, meta tags do not affect how the page is displayed. Instead, they provide information such as who created the page, how often it is updated, what the page is about, and which keywords represent the page's content.

  • middleware

    Middleware acts as the glue between two different applications. It connects two different applications and passes data between them.

  • mobile commerce

    (Also m-commerce) E-business in a wireless environment. For example, you might access resources such as stock quotes, directions, weather forecasts, and airline flight schedules through a wireless laptop or telephone.

  • modem

    A modem is a device that enables your computer to send and receive data over telephone or cable lines. You will need a modem to get connected to the Internet.

  • MRO

    (maintenance, repair, and operations supplies) Indirect materials, such as light bulbs or office supplies, used by most businesses in relatively small quantities.


  • NDA

    (Non-disclosure agreement) A contract that restricts the disclosure of confidential information or proprietary knowledge under specific circumstances. Non-disclosure agreements are often signed by companies discussing a potential partnership or by new employees.

  • network

    A group of two or more computers that are linked together. Computers on a network are sometimes called nodes. Computers that allocate resources for a network are called servers.

  • nonrepudiation

    Verification that a transaction occurred. This prevents people denying a transaction’s validity or its existence.


  • one-to-one marketing (1:1 marketing)

    A highly customized approach to offering products and services that match the needs of a particular customer.

  • open source

    Software that can be downloaded and modified free of charge.

  • operating system

    (OS) An operating system is the master control program of the computer. All programs must “talk” to the OS in order to run. It provides the user interface needed to adjust system settings, recognize input from the keyboard and mouse, and send output to the display screen.

    There are single-user OSs, such as DOS, Windows, and Mac OS X, as well as multi-user network operating systems you may have heard about like Windows NT, UNIX, and Linux.

  • opt-in e-mails

    See permission-based marketing.

  • order fulfillment

    All of the processes and systems required to deliver a product or service to a customer after the order has been received.

  • outsourcing

    The hiring of another company to take care of part of your business processes (e.g., payroll, legal, web development, design, order fulfillment).


  • P2P

    (Peer-to-peer) Technology that connects client computers directly with other client computers. It enables sharing and exchanging of information.

    It differs from client-server technology, where servers are dedicated to serving client computers.

  • payment gateway

    Internet payment gateways process real-time credit card transactions and act as the middleman between your e-commerce server and your Internet merchant account (bank account).

    Why do they exist? They exist because credit card processors will not allow individual merchants to access their systems through the Internet. They do not permit this because of security issues. Credit card processors only permit companies whose software has been "certified" to access their systems.

  • PDF

    (Portable Document Format) PDF files preserve document integrity, reduce file sizes, and are platform-independent. Text and graphic files can be converted to a PDF file through Adobe Acrobat.

    Download a free Acrobat Reader to view and print the PDF files on the E-Future Centre’s web site.

  • PIPA

    (Personal Information Protection Act) Privacy legislation that will apply to all Alberta businesses on January 1, 2004. Substantially similar to PIPEDA.


    (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) Privacy legislation that governs the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by organizations in a manner that recognizes both:

    The right of an individual to have his or her personal information protected The need of organizations to collect, use, or disclose personal information for purposes that are reasonable

    Under the Act, companies’ responsibilities are to:

    • be accountable
    • identify the purpose
    • limit collection
    • limit use, disclosure, retention
    • be accurate
    • use appropriate safeguards
    • be open
    • give access
    • challenge compliance

  • plug-in

    A software module that adds a specific feature to a larger program. For example, you can get free plug-ins for your browsers to display PDF files, video, and sound files. Examples of popular plug-ins include Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, and QuickTime.

  • POP

    (Post Office Protocol) The protocol responsible for retrieving e-mail from a mail server.

  • pop-up ad

    An ad that appears in its own window when a user opens or closes a web page.

  • port

    Think of a port as a door. Personal computers have ports that allow certain types of information to pass through. For example, web communications are usually carried out via port 80.

  • portal

    Gateways to the World Wide Web. Users can do their searching, navigating, and other web-based activities from a portal (e.g.,,,

  • PPC

    (Pay-Per-Click) A method of advertising displayed in search engine results pages. They are the “sponsored links” or results that are displayed usually at the top or side of the page. Advertisers bid money on where their “sponsored link” will be located and charged the bid amount each time someone clicks on their pay-perclick “sponsored link”.

  • privacy

    The right to control access to one’s person and information about oneself.

  • privacy policy

    A policy related to the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information collected in the course of business.

  • programming languages

    Computer languages instruct computers to perform specific tasks. Usually programming languages refer to high-level languages, like C, C++, Perl, and others, as opposed to low- level machine languages.

    There is also an important distinction between scripting and compiled languages. Compiled languages (e.g., C, C++, Java, C#, Visual Basic, FORTRAN) run faster, because they’re precompiled to computer language. These languages may take longer to debug and compile.

    Markup languages (e.g., HTML, XML) define the structure and layout of a web document by using a variety of tags and attributes.

  • proprietary software

    Commercial software whose source code cannot be modified. Proprietary is the opposite of open source code.

    Open source code and architectures allow for products from different companies to be mixed and matched more easily.

  • protocol

    A set of rules that determines how two computers communicate with one another over a network.

  • proxy server

    A firewall that communicates with the Internet on behalf of a secure internal network.

  • public-key encryption

    (PKI) Also known as an asymmetrical key encryption. With this type of encryption, a pair of encryption keys are used—a public key and a private key. The public key is made available to anyone who wants to send an encrypted message to the holder of the private key. The only way to decrypt the message is with the private key.

  • pure-play

    A pure-play e-retailer (or e-tailer) sells products exclusively online and does not have a brick-and-mortar location.


  • rasterized graphic

    Raster images (also bitmap images) are made up of a grid of dots, or pixels, each pixel containing color information. When you are working with raster images, you are in reality working with pixels, not objects or shapes. These images are resolution dependent and degrade if resized. Raster file formats include (.gif, .jpg, .bmp, and .pcx). Compare with vector graphic.

  • ROI

    (return on investment) Profit or cost savings realized on a financial investment. An ROI calculation is sometimes used along with other approaches to develop a business case and determine whether to proceed with a project or not.

  • router

    Computer that determines the best way for data packets to reach their destination on the Internet.

  • RSS

    (Real Simple Syndication) Is used to broadcasts updates of websites to subscribers. RSS uses XML code to scan a website for new or altered content. If new or additional content is found the RSS broadcasts to all the subscribers the updates.


  • scalability

    A popular buzzword that refers to the ability for a hardware or software system to start small and grow to meet future demands.

  • screen resolution

    Refers to the sharpness and clarity of an image. For monitors, it refers to the number of dots (pixels) that can be placed side by side on a screen (e.g., 800 x 600 screen resolution is capable of placing 800 dots on 600 lines).

    With printers, the resolution refers to the number of dots printed per inch (dpi). Graphics for web sites should be saved at 72 dpi, while graphics for your desktop printer can be saved at 150-300 dpi.

  • seal of approval

    There are various seals of approval related to security, privacy, and business reliability. For example, the Better Business Bureau Online ( has a privacy and reliability seal program for businesses.

  • search engine

    A program that searches for web sites and documents on the Internet based on search terms.

  • sell-side application

    An e-marketplace with one seller and multiple buyers.

  • server

    A computer that allocates resources for a computer network.

  • SET

    (Secure Electronic Transaction protocol) A standard that enables secure credit card transactions by verifying that buyers are who they claim to be through the use of digital signatures.

  • shopping cart

    An electronic commerce utility that keeps track of selected items for purchase and automates the purchasing process.

  • S-HTTP

    (Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol) An extension to the HTTP protocol to support sending data securely over the World Wide Web. Not all Web browsers and servers support S-HTTP.

    S-HTTP is designed to send individual messages securely, as opposed to sending anything securely between between two computers (See SSL).

  • SMTP

    (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) A protocol for sending e-mail messages between servers. Most e-mail systems that send mail over the Internet use SMTP to send messages from one server to another; the messages can then be retrieved with an e-mail client using either POP or IMAP.

  • source code

    The source code consists of the programming statements that are created by a programmer and then saved to a file. Once source code is compiled, it is often referred to as object code, which can be read by the computer.

  • spam

    Unsolicited, bulk electronic junk mail. Typically spam is generally e-mail advertising sent to a massive mailing list or newsgroup.

  • spider

    (Also search bot, web robot, webcrawler) A program that scours the Internet and indexes millions of web sites for search engines, jumping from web link to web link.

  • SQL

    (structured query language) Standardized query language for requesting information from a database.

  • SSL

    (Secure Sockets Layer) A protocol developed by Netscape for setting up a secure connection between a client and a server and transmitting any amount of data securely.

  • supply chain management

    The process of using the Internet as a tool to collaborate more closely with suppliers and other participants in the supply chain and to improve products and processes.


  • T-1

    A dedicated phone connection supporting data rates of 1.544 Mbps. A T-1 line actually consists of 24 individual channels, each of which supports 64 Kbps.

  • T-3

    A dedicated phone connection supporting data rates of about 43 Mbps. A T-3 line actually consists of 672 individual channels, each of which supports 64 Kbps.

    T-3 lines are used mainly by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) connecting to the Internet backbone and for the backbone itself.

  • TCP/IP

    (Transfer Control Protocol / Internet Protocol) The set of protocols that provide the basis for the operation of the Internet. The TCP protocol includes rules that computers on a network use to establish and break connections. The IP protocol determines the routing of the data packets.

  • TLD

    (top-level domain) The last part of a domain name (e.g., .com, .ca, .net, .org, .gov).

  • Trojan horse

    A program hidden inside another program or web page that masks its true purpose. Trojan horses are usually destructive.


  • UECA

    (Uniform Electronic Transactions Act) E-commerce legislation based on the United Nations’ Model on E-Commerce.

  • unique visitors

    Unique visitors are counted using visitor IP addresses, domain names, or cookies on a daily basis.

  • UNIX

    A popular multi-user, multitasking operating system (OS) developed in the early 1970s. UNIX is portable, flexible, and powerful and is the leading operating system for workstations.

  • upload

    To transmit data from your computer to a network or web server. If you want a web page or document to be available on the Internet, you need to upload it to a web server.

  • URL

    (Uniform Resource Locator) A complete web site address (e.g., including the protocol to be used (HTTP) and the domain name (

  • usability

    Ease-of-use of a company’s web site.


    (User’s News Network) A worldwide bulletin board system that allows subscribers to read and post articles within over 14,000 forums, called newsgroups.


  • value chain

    A value chain is a high-level model of how businesses receive raw materials as input, add value to the raw materials through various processes, and sell finished products to customers.

    E-business presents several ways to reduce inefficiencies in business processes and to improve the value chain.

  • VAN

    (Value-added network) A value-added network (VAN) is a third-party service organization that provides a variety of services for businesses that want to do business using EDI. Most importantly it provides the communications link between EDI trading partners.

  • vaporware

    A sarcastic term used for software that has been announced but is not yet available. It is always a good idea to test-drive your e-business software or platform and find out who else is currently using it.

  • vector graphic

    Vector images refer to images that are made up of lines that are described mathematically. They are resolution independent and can be resized and not lose any quality. Vector graphics (.eps files) are also very small compared to raster images (.jpgs, .gif., .pcx files).

  • vertical portal

    An e-marketplace or exchange whose members are in one industry or segment (e.g., steel, agriculture, electronics).

  • viral marketing

    Word-of-mouth advertising in which customers promote a product or service without cost to a company.

  • virus

    A piece of code that attaches itself to a host and, once activated, propagates itself. Viruses may act maliciously and disrupt your network operations.

    It is recommended to purchase an anti-virus program and update your virus definitions frequently as a first level of defence.

  • VPN

    (virtual private network) A network that combines encryption, authentication, and protocol tunneling technologies to provide secure transport of private communications over the public Internet. Most enterprises rely on third-party companies to host their VPNs.


  • W3C

    (World Wide Web Consortium) The W3C develops interoperable technologies (specifications, guidelines, software, and tools) to lead the Web to its full potential. W3C is a forum for information, commerce, communication, and collective understanding (

  • WAN

    (wide area network) Computer networks that are connected securely over great distances.

  • WAP

    (Wireless Application Protocol) A secure specification that allows users to access information instantly via handheld wireless devices such as mobile phones, pagers, two-way radios, smart phones and communicators.

  • web

    (Short for World Wide Web) Often the terms web and Internet are used interchangeably. The web, however, is the system of Internet servers that support HTML pages and links to other documents.

    You can access the web by getting an Internet connection and using a web browser.

  • web hosting

    The placement and maintenance of a web site on a server.

  • web server

    A computer that is connected to the Internet and that stores files written in HTML that are publicly available through an Internet connection.

  • WML

  • (Wireless Markup Language) An XML language used to specify content and user interface for wireless devices

  • worm

    A computer program that replicates from machine to machine across network connections, often clogging networks and computer systems as it spreads.

  • WWW

    (See World Wide Web)


    (What You See Is What You Get) Pronounced wizzy-wig. A WYSIWYG application displays text and graphics on the screen exactly as it will appear when the document is printed, or in the case of web pages, when the document is published to the web


  • XML

    (Extensible Markup Language) XML allows designers to create their own customized tags, enabling the definition, transmission, validation, and interpretation of data between applications and between organizations if common tags are used.

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