Coding isn’t easy, especially when you’re totally new to it. It’s made even harder by technical terms, acronyms, and industry jargon that you’ve never come across before. That is why we decided to put together a cheatsheet for you. With this glossary of terms, you can learn the most essential terms and phrases used by programmers in the coding industry.
Agile software development
Agile Software Development is a development methodology that simplifies its code, tests often, and delivers parts of a larger project in manageable periods called “Sprints”. small, functional bits of an application when they are ready (called “Sprints”).
An algorithm is a set of instructions that are followed to solve a problem
Application Programming Interface (API) is a set of rules, routines, and protocols for building software applications. APIs help in communication with third party programs or services, which can be used to build different software. APIs are used by software platforms and companies – like Facebook or Twitter – to give developers easier access to their services. API’s express software components in terms of their operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types.
Arithmetic operators are essential in almost every application. These are the signs and functions used to manipulate values: for example, when you add two numbers together, you’re using an addition arithmetic operator (‘+’).
Arrays are containers that hold variables. In programming arrays are widely used to group together similar variables.
Assignment operators (+=, -=, *=, /=) are operators that combine variable assignments (=) with arithmetic operators. These are widely used in programming to simplify value changes, especially when you’re making frequent changes. For example, instead of saying “number = number +1” you simplify to “number += 1)
An object, represented by a variable which ‘belongs’ or is attached to that object. That property is a variable of the data type string that has the value ‘Karen’ inside of it. Essentially a property is any variable that is attached to an object, as the purpose of the property is to describe that object. e.g. Person.name = “Karen” means that there is a Person object and they have a name ‘property’. Other words for “attribute” are “Member” or “Property”.
Augmented reality (AR) is an interactive experience where digital objects are placed in a real-world environment in real time. Examples of augmented reality would be live face, photo, or video filters, or Pokémon Go.
Autonomous essentially means “acting by itself, without continued external control or input”. An example would be a Tesla car’s automatic driving feature.
The back end is another term used for ‘background’ in programming. A backend task is the one that is performed in the background with the user’s direct interaction. Similarly, a backend developer is a person who designs programs that process data and perform tasks that users don’t directly see.
A binary number is a computer’s way to represent information. Computers process millions of 1s and 0s a minute using different rules to interpret them as numbers, letters, operators, and everything else put into a computer.
The individual 1s and 0s you see in binary code are called bits.
Also called “comparison expressions”, “conditional expressions” or “relational expressions”, a Boolean expression or Boolean logic is an expression used for creating statements that are either TRUE or FALSE. Boolean expressions use logic such as AND, OR, XOR, NOT and NOR operators, which can be very useful, for example in making conditional searches in your web browser.
A bug is a general term used to denote an unexpected error or defect in hardware or software, which causes it to malfunction.
Also known as software build or code build, “Build” refers to the process by which source code is converted into a stand-alone form that can be run (either on a computer or even by itself). Builds are created to test and release software.
C++ is a versatile coding language that runs on a wide variety of platforms. It was created as an extension of the C programming language.
Character (char) is a display unit of information equal to one alphabetic letter or symbol. The value of a char variable could be any one character value, such as ‘a’, ‘1’, ‘$’ and ‘X’. This definition of character relies on the general definition of a character as a sole unit of written language. Not that in languages such as C, C++, C#, and Java, “char” is a reserved keyword (see “keyword” below).
A blueprint/description of an that we use to create an object
A program that converts high-level language source code into an intermediate language or machine code, to be executed later. It’s typically slower to compile a program before running it, however execution itself is generally much faster as you only have to compile once.
A constant (also known as Const) is a term used to describe a value that does not change throughout the execution of the program, unlike a variable. Constant cannot be altered and will remain fixed, and a constant can be a number, character, or string.
A command-line interface or command language interpreter (CLI) is where a user can enter commands in the form of successive text in order to complete specific tasks. Windows Command Prompt is an example of a command-line interface.
A code review is the systematic examination of computer source code that is intended to find and fix mistakes.
Coding is the act of computer programming or software development in a given coding or programming language.
Concatenation is the act of joining words (strings) together. For example, “Hyperion” + “Dev” becomes “HyperionDev”.
Conditional statements are expressions in programming language, which help the code make a choice and result in either TRUE or FALSE. A conditional statement (and even multiple conditional statements at once!) can be used to perform different actions depending on the need of the programmer. Conditionals are used in while, if, and, else statements.
Also known as an if-statement is a fundamental programming logic gate that determines whether or not a certain block of code should be executed. E.g.
if (age>18): print(“you are of legal age!”)
CRUD (Create, Read, Update, Delete)
These are the 4 cardinal operations that can be performed on data. It can also be used to refer to a database or program’s ability to alter its contained data.
Cascading Style Sheets is a standard markup language that describes the formatting of markup language pages, for example those written in HTML. CSS is a frontend web development language that gives developers control over how their content, layout, and visual elements of their websites appear.
A computer database management system refers to the storage and organization of data. Databases are used for easy retrieval of information.
A classification of the type of data held in a variable. This is usually used to restrict the types of data that can be saved to particular variables or to specify the type of data that is expected as input into any given function/method. Some coding languages are statically typed languages, and do not let you change data types once you have declared the variable. In contrast, a dynamically typed language allows you to change data types any time you want.
Text that a program outputs which is intended to help the developer understand how their code is functioning.
A statement that describes a variable, function or any other identifier is called a declaration. A declaration helps the compiler or interpreter identify the word, understand what it means, and know how the process should be continued.
Else statements are used to do something else when the condition in the if statement isn’t true.
An exception is an unexpected, special, and anomalous condition encountered during the execution of a program. For example, an exception would occur when a program asks a user for a number and the user provides a word. The exceptions must be handled and eradicated in the program code to avoid any fatal error.
An expression is a legal and valid grouping of letters, symbols, and numbers being used to represent the value of one or more variables. Every expression contains one or more operands (objects being manipulated, such as A, B, or C) and operators (symbols representing actions, such as + or – ).
In programming “field” is synonym for “property”. In databases/tables it represents a single cell of data.
For loops are a simple coding technique that allows you to run a block of code over and over again for a set number of times.
A loop that automatically iterates over every item in a collection (list/set/array etc), without keeping track of index.
A framework is a reusable, hierarchical directory environment that indicates what kinds of programs can or should be built. It includes all the APIs, software libraries, compilers, and everything used by the program. A framework makes it easier for developers to simplify their development environment by having all the tools they need available in one place.
The front end is the user interface of a computer or any device. For example, any operating system provides users with the ease of navigation. A program or OS is considered good if the UI or Front-end is easy to use and seamless to navigate. Front-end developers are the programmers who design and develop the user interface of a device.
Many websites typically need three tiers of development to work effectively: a front end, an application, and a database. A Full-stack solution is a collection of technologies that together allow developers to create each of these tiers and produce a feature-rich web application or website. MERN and MEAN are examples of full-stack solutions.
A function is a block of code that can be referenced by name to run the code it contains.
Git is an open source version control system used to manage your coding projects. This system allows you or hundreds of other contributors to make highly tracked and well-documented changes or additions to a program.
A high-level language (HLL) is a programming language that lets the developer write programs irrespective of the nature or type of computer. This language typically has to be converted into a machine language for a computer to read and understand it. HLLs are considered high-level because they are in close proximity to human languages and further from machine languages. High-level languages include BASIC, C, C++, Pascal, Prolog, and FORTRAN.
HTML (HyperText Markup Language)
HTML is the standard markup language used to create web pages.
HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol) Request
HTTP is an application protocol for distributed, collaborative, hypermedia information systems. HTTP is the foundation of data communication for the World Wide Web. If your browser fetches any file from a web server, it’s using an HTTP request.
IDE (Integrated Development Environment)
This is the environment in which we write our code, they can really be thought of as fancy text editors for the most part, although many IDE’s do provide extra functionality which is why we use them over a standard text editor
An if statement is a simple programming technique that runs a block of code based on whether or not a condition is true.
Inheritance is a process in object oriented programming that allows you to reuse code to allow independent extensions of the original software. New code classes receive (or “inherit”) the properties and methods of the existing code – this simplifies coding by cutting out the need to repeat entire blocks of code.
The process of creating an instance from a class. In Java this is done using the new keyword.
A set of unimplemented method signatures intended to be used as a partial blueprint for a class. For example, a “Vehicle” interface may require a “getWheels()” method, which an implementing class like “Car” should then define.
A program used to execute code directly from source. It can be understood as an emulator of a machine that understands how to interpret a high-level language as if it were machine code. In other words compilers do not convert any code to machine code they just execute it directly.The Python executable is a good example of this.
The number of times that the same piece of code is used. For example, in a for-loop that is coded to run six times will have six iterations.
Java is a backend, object-oriented scripting language that allows you to create dynamic web pages enabling you to process and maintain data within the browser. The mobile applications on your Android cellphone are written in Java.
JSON is a lightweight, readable format that transmits structured data between a server and web application. JSON can be used as an alternative to XML.
These are words that are reserved by a programming language or a program as they have special meanings. These keywords are reserved to perform certain tasks, and they can be either commands or parameters. Each programming language has a set of reserved keywords (also known as reserved names) which cannot be used as variable names. Some keywords in ‘C’ language are ‘return’, ‘while’, ‘if’, ‘static’, ‘continue’ and ‘default’.
LAMP is a stack of technologies that are popularly combined in developer work where you need to run dynamic websites and servers. This stack includes: Linux operating system, the Apache HTTP Server, the MySQL relational database management system (RDBMS), and the PHP programming language.
A loop is a sequence of instructions that repeat the same process over and over until a condition is met and it receives the order to stop.
The logical expression that determines whether a loop should iterate again or stop. E.g. while (count > 0); or for (int i = 0; i < 8; i++).
A low-level language is a language that is very close to machine language and provides a little abstraction of programming concepts. Low-level languages are closer to the hardware than human languages. The most common examples of low-level languages are assembly and machine code.
Machine language / Machine Code
Machine language is a lowest-level programming language consisting of binary digits or bits that are read by computers. These are essentially very basic instructions intended to be executed directly on a CPU chip. Machine language is the only language understood by computers. Therefore, programmers write code in the high-level language, which is then translated into assembly language or machine language by a compiler, which is then converted to a machine language by an assembler.
Machine learning is getting a computer to act without explicitly being programmed to do so. In machine learning, computers will use an available set of data to learn how to do something for themselves.
The main function is part of C++ and is called when the program starts.
A markup language is a relatively simple language that consists of easily understood keywords and tags, used to format the overall view of the page and its contents. The language specifies codes for formatting the layout and style of a page, within a text file only. The most common markup languages are Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).
The MERN Stack is a variation of the MEAN stack that switched out the Angular.js frontend framework for React.js. Like MEAN, this open-source tech stack allows developers to create feature rich modern websites and web applications. MERN is a full-stack solution.
This refers to the surface-level definition of a method. Specifically, its name, its arguments (and their types) and its return type. The code inside the method is called the method implementation.
Null defines the lack of any value whatsoever. A null character is a programming code, which represents a character with no value, missing value or the end of a character string. If we state $val1= ”” and $val2= “1”, $val1 has a null value.
An instance of a class, usually containing attributes, constructors, and methods. An object is really just a complex data type to help us better represent real world “objects”.
OOP (Object-Oriented Programming)
Object-oriented programming is a model defined by programmers that revolve around objects and data rather than ‘actions’ and ‘logic’. In OOP, not only the data type of a data structure is defined, but also the types of functions that can be applied to it. Through this, the data structure becomes an object that consists of both data and functions.
Open-source software development
Open-source software is software that is available for public use. During open-source software development, developers can work on products whose source code is under an open-source license encouraging developers from around the world to study, change, and improve the design of the software.
The objects which can be manipulated using different operators. In the expression ‘A+F+Q’, ‘A’, ‘F’ and ‘Q’ are operands.
The object which can manipulate different operands. In the expression ‘A+F-Q’, ‘+’ and ‘-‘are operators. Examples of different operators are + (addition), — (decrement), = (equals), != (not equal) and >= (greater than or equal to).
A package is an organized module of related interfaces and classes. Packages are used to organize classes that belong to the same category or provide related functionality.
A variable that contains the address of a location in the memory. The location is the commencing point of an object, such as an element of the array or an integer. Using pointers improves the performance of a program as it is more time and resource efficient than copying the data to which the pointer is referring.
A property is a member that provides a flexible mechanism to read, write, or compute the value of a private field. Typically a property is a building block of programming, and it doesn’t normally return a value, instead performing a set operation (such as setting a variable or retrieving a variable from another part of the program).
When a function calls itself (in layman’s terms, this means a function that repeats part or even all of its process). This is typically used in divide-and-conquer programming patterns where a function solves a problem by breaking it into smaller problems and running itself on those smaller problems. A canonical example is the Fibonacci sequence:
if x <= 2: return 1
else return fibo(x-2) + fibo(x-1)
Runtime is the time period during which a program is, in fact, running on a computer. If an operation occurs at ‘runtime’, it occurs when a program is running or the moment at which the program begins to run. Also known as execution time, the runtime is part of the life cycle of the program, and it denotes the time between when the program begins running and until it is closed by the OS or the user.
In programming, a series of scripts, or sets of steps, are written for a computer to follow. Computers process the steps line-by-line from top to bottom. Each step is created by writing a statement.
When procedures and processes are performed on the server, they are deemed server-side (in comparison to processes performed on the user’s end, which are client-side). Many programming languages are designed for server-side work, such as PHP, Perl, and ASP. With the internet boom, almost all websites make use of both server-side and client-side processing.
In Python it is standard practice for a variable to be named using snake case, meaning all words are in lower case and separated by an underscore. For example, this_is_an_example_of_snake_case
Source code is a text listing of commands written in a high-level language that is converted into object code or machine code by a compiler. This code is the most fundamental component of any program or application.
Source data or data source is the key location from which data is used in the program. The source data can come from a database, spreadsheet or even a hard-coded data location. When a program is executed to display data in a table, the program retrieves the data from its source and then presents it in the arrangement as defined in the code.
A “sprint” in agile software development is a regular, repeatable work cycle.
SQL (Structured Query Language)
SQL is a programming language specific for information housed in a relational database management system.
A stack, or software stack, or bundle, is a set of software components that a company or developer chooses to use. Stacks can be split into two areas – front end stacks and back end stacks.
In programming, a statement is a single line of code written legally in a programming language that expresses an action to be carried out. A statement might have internal components of its own, including expressions, operators and functions. An example of a statement is A = A + 5. A program is nothing but a sequence of one or multiple statements. Learn more about statements here
Similar to human languages, programming languages have their own set of rules on how statements can be conveyed. The set of these rules is known as syntax. While a number of programming languages share many features, functions, and capabilities, they differ in syntax. Without the proper use of the syntax, one cannot write an executable program, and a wrong syntax will lead to a plethora of errors.
A token is the smallest individual unit in a program, often referring to a portion of a much larger data piece. For example, if a person’s name is John Thomas Wood, it can be broken into tokens; ‘John’, ‘Thomas’ and ‘Wood’. The programmer can then go on to use only the portion or token they wish to. Tokens are classified into keywords, identifiers, literals, operators, and punctuators.
User Experience Design (UX)
User experience design (or UX design) focuses on improving the usability and ease of web application products from a customer satisfaction standpoint. A UX designer makes an app easy to use.
User Interface Design (UI)
User interface design (or UI design) focuses on the series of screens, images, and visual elements such as buttons or icons one uses to interact with a device. A UI designer makes an app visually appealing.
A container that stores values, usually a single number, word, or other information that you can use throughout a program. Variables have three parts: type, name, and value.
Once a variable is declared, a variable type is specified. Basic variable types include: string (words and phrases), char (short for “character;” a single letter or symbol you can type), int (short for “integer;” for whole numbers), double or float (for decimal numbers), and bool (short for “boolean;” for true or false values).
Version control is the management and recording of changes to documents, computer programs, large web sites, and other collections of information. When developers are building out new software, version control keeps the frequent updates and revisions sorted in a central repository.
While loops are set up just like ‘if’ statements. They check for a condition and run the code in them until the condition is no longer true. A while loop will run forever (until the condition is false).
XML or Extensible Markup Language defines a set of rules for encoding documents in human and machine-readable formats. XML is unlike HTML in that it allows for documents to display in a variety of additional formats outside of just a web browser.
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