There are lots of terms that technical folks throw around. You may know some of them, or have a good idea what they are, but let’s shed some light on the lingo for everyone, even the beginner.

IT – Information Technology

IT has become a term relating to anything you plug in that has buttons and a screen, and I bet if you asked 20 non-technical people what IT stands for – at least half would have to guess. Information Technology is all about capturing, storing, protecting, and utilizing your business information. Let’s take a look at these terms, by using an example – a dentist office.

Business Information – a.k.a. data

Business information is any information that is important to your business:
For Example In a dentist office, this is the list of patients, patient information, their appointment history, scheduled appointments, payment history, patient history, dental records, employees, work schedules, office hours, etc.

Capturing Information

Capturing information, also called data entry, refers to how and where someone enters patient information into a computer. This refers to typing in a patient’s contact information, patient history, scheduling an appointment, recording a payment, etc.

Storing Information

Storing information is about where the information goes after the data entry person clicks the Save button. Your information needs to be saved efficiently, so that it can be retrieved when it is needed. Information is typically stored in a database.

Protecting Information

Protecting information is about making sure your information is there when you need it and is not available to anyone who shouldn’t have it. Backing up your data will help ensure that your data is always there when you need it, and security measures, such as usernames and passwords, ensure that unauthorized users cannot see information.

Utilizing Information

Utilizing information is ultimately the end goal of the entire process. This is how you use this information that has been captured, stored, and protected.
For Example In a dentist office:

  • View a list of who is coming in to the office today, what time, and for what, or find out how much a patient still owes from their last visit.
  • Read a patient’s dental history to help determine the best treatment.
  • Automatically send an email to patients two days before their appointment to remind them of their upcoming appointment.
  • View a list of patients with an outstanding balance.
  • Show up-to-date appointment availability on a website, so that current and prospective patients know what options they have for an appointment.
  • Automatically email patients on a waiting list when an appointment time becomes available, due to a cancellation or scheduling change.

Data Mining

Data mining is comparing different types of business information in a new way, in order to extract beneficial information. For Example In a dentist office:
Create a list of patients who used to schedule regular cleanings but have not made an appointment in over a year. This can facilitate reconnecting with patients and prevent them from becoming a "former patient."

Static Webpage

A static webpage is a page that doesn’t change. The Delta Computer Solutions website is a static site. Running in the USA’s contact page is a static web page.

Dynamic Webpage

A dynamic webpage is a page that changes periodically, possibly continuously, every day, hour, week, or possibly each time the page is visited. The home page at Running in the USA is a dynamic page. There are sections that change weekly (the photos in the middle). Other sections are updated whenever the information is updated.

Interactive Webpage

An interactive webpage is a dynamic webpage that changes based on options specified by the user. The most common form of this would be a search page. This page at Running in the USA is an example of an interactive webpage. The user can select different date options and other filters (state, city, etc.) to display a list of races matching the desired criteria.

Front End

The front end of an application refers to the part that you and your users see. This is where you do data entry, generate reports, process data, view data, search for data, and utilize your data.

Back End

The back end of an application is how and where your data is stored. This is typically in a database. The database stores your raw data. A desktop application or web application will display your data and allow users to view/edit/modify/delete your data.

Off-The-Shelf Software

Off-the-shelf software is software that is available to anyone, including your competitors. It is produced for a very wide audience, making it a lower cost option for managing information. However, off-the-shelf software often does not meet specific needs and probably does not give you an advantage over your competitors.

Desktop Application

A desktop application is a program that you install on your computer, like Word, Excel, or QuickBooks. You typically run an install program, and access it through the Start Menu or an icon on your desktop.

Desktop applications offer great performance for data entry. Data entry staff will typically be most efficient using a desktop application. Advanced presentations such as graphs and charts are also well-suited for desktop applications.

Web Application

A web application is an application that is installed on a web server and is accessed using your browser, such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. The application does not live on your computer like a desktop application.

Web applications allow a wide range of access to the program. Whether a user has a brand new, state-of-the-art PC, an old bare-bones PC, or a Mac, as long as they have a web browser, and a connection to the web server on which the application resides, they can use the application. Web applications also offer advantages to maintaining the program. Once the web server is updated, everyone using the program is updated. No need to worry that someone is using the "old version" of the program.

Web applications also offer fast development for data reporting. Showing summary reports or lists of information, calculations are very easy to build in a web application. The same reports can be generated in a desktop application, but they take longer for the programmer to build.

It is definitely possible to have an application with both desktop components and web components, taking advantage of their individual strengths.


A database is a collection of tables.
A table is a collection of records.
A record is a collection of fields.
A field is a discrete piece of raw information about something important.
In our dentist office example: Last Name, First Name, Date of Birth, Phone Number are all fields that would make up a record in the Patient table. It's a little like a spreadsheet where Last Name, First Name, Date of Birth, Phone Number are the columns. Each row would be a patient record. The big list makes up the Patient table.

MS Access

Microsoft, or MS, Access (typically just called Access) is a database program that contains both front end and back end components. Raw data is stored in Tables, data entry is done with Forms, and presentation is done with Reports. The database engine is not very powerful, but is great for a small application that will be used by only a handful of people, where the threat of unintentional tampering is low, and the threat of intentional tampering is between extremely low and none – but closer to none.

SQL Server

SQL (pronounced SEE-quel) stands for Structured Query Language, which means very little to a non-techie/normal person.

SQL Server is a powerful database engine (back end) that is appropriate to handle most business needs. Candidly speaking, it handles anything that Delta Computer Solutions can build. If you need something bigger than SQL Server, then we are not the best resource for you. Maybe you can hire us as a contract programmer.

SQL Server is not the powerhouse that something like Google or Amazon would need. If you are that big, you probably are already familiar with all these terms, so why are you here? This article is not targeted at you. Run along, and don’t scare away the folks that are just getting familiar with this stuff.

Visual Studio / VB.NET / Visual Basic / C# / ASP.NET / ASP

These refer to the various languages / development software that Delta Computer Solutions uses to develop custom applications. These are used for building the front end. Customers do not need to own or learn these languages / development software. These languages are appropriate for medium and large programs when SQL Server is used for the back end, and/or there is any significant threat of intentional or unintentional tampering.


HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. This is what your browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox) uses to render a web page. In includes instructions about what should be bold, highlighted, formatting instructions, etc. (That’s what the Markup part means.)


JavaScript is used to write client side code for a web based application.

Web Hosting

Web hosting means putting your website files in a place that can be accessed from the internet. In order to have a website that the world can see, it must be hosted somewhere. Web hosting companies allow you to upload your files to your site so it can be viewed by the world and to keep bad guys from tampering with your stuff. Delta Computer Solutions is not a web hosting company. We use web hosting companies to publish our sites.


FTP or File Transfer Protocol is the accepted way of publishing files to your web hosting server so they can be accessed through the internet. FTP programs are often quirky and unintuitive and not very fun for the non-programmer.


Tampering refers to unauthorized personnel viewing, changing, deleting your program and/or data. Tampering can be intentional, where the person is deliberately trying to sabotage your system, or unintentional, where a person inadvertently changes, deletes, or breaks your program.

Server Side Code / Client Side Code

Server side code is code that runs on the server; client side code runs on the client. That clarifies it, right? OK, how about this: When you go to a web page, the content is generated on the server and sent to your browser. That is the server side code. When you mouse over something and it changes (turns bold, changes color, makes something pop up), or when you enter something in a textbox and it calculates or validates something right away – that is client side code.