App-crazy, Widget-mad and Pluginsanity; What’s it all Mean?

December 3rd, 2007 · No Comments · Category: (Web) Technology · Design and Development · Essentials · Innovation

Blog - Basically, you’re looking at it. This is a blog. A blog is an online chronicle of published articles, links, images, etc. At 10:01am you publish this article. At 10:15pm you publish another article. The 10:01 article sits below the 10:15pm article. Both articles are categorized and stored in a database automatically and can be found at a click of a link or two. A blog is a website. Just a more dynamic, robust and easily maintained website. See our in depth explanation of a blog here.

Content Management System - Joomla, Drupal and WordPress are all content management systems (CMS). A CMS is just a software that allows people to publish web pages without knowing code. It’s a system of managing the content published on websites. The average CMS has an area for writing text to be published using a simple interface and text editor which you can make your text different colors, sizes and fonts. You can also add images in the text area as well. A CMS also allows you to upload and store numerous images in one place for easy retrieval. A CMS also has extra features like blogging, calendars, dynamic navigation bars, contact forms, and so on. WordPress is a blog publishing content management system that can be used for creating regular websites. It’s all in the matter of how you use the CMS and what options come with them.

Apps (Applications; Web Applications) - Web applications are software use over the Internet. Think of your computer. Your systems software (operation system, for example) is stored on your computer and is used by your applications software (Microsoft Word, for example) to let you do certain things (like write word documents, for example). A web application, on the other hand, is stored on a server and delivered to you over the Internet without having to install additional software on your computer. Best examples are email, e-commerce, wikis, blogs, and discussion boards.

API - “Abbreviation of application program interface, a set of routines, protocols, and tools for building software applications. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer puts the blocks together. Most operating environments, such as MS-Windows, provide an API so that programmers can write applications consistent with the operating environment. Although APIs are designed for programmers, they are ultimately good for users because they guarantee that all programs using a common API will have similar interfaces. This makes it easier for users to learn new programs.” -from

Tags, Tagging - Tags are keywords used to organize content. It’s that simple. You publish an article on a blog that is categorized under cats, but you mention a specific type of cat and you want to make sure people know you mentioned that calico cat, you would make “calico” a tag. Usually, tags and tagging is used on a blog. When publishing an article, links or images, you can categorize the content under either a main category or additonally create specific tags for those specific articles, links or images. This blog only uses categories as of the date of this article, thought that might change. But, take a look at my personal site, to see that both tag cloud and the categories are published in the sidebars. *Note: “tag” also refers to the coding system used for building web pages, i.e., <b></b> is a beginning and ending tag used to create bold text.

Tag Cloud - A display of all tags used on a given blog or website. Usually, tag clouds are displayed as a bunch of links where the biggest represent the most used tags and the smallest represent the least. Clicking on the link to a given tag will take you to a page that lists all articles, images, and/or links that correspond to that particular tag.

Plugins - A plugin is a piece of software that interacts with your web browser when placed on your website or blog and provides some sort of added function to your website dynamically. The most common plugins used on the Internet are to make media players display animated images or audio on the web: Flash, QuickTime, Windows Media Player, etc. Some common plugins for blogs are RSS feed generators, archives and contact forms. All of which can be found on this blog.

Widgets - Widgets are like plugins but much simpler and smaller. Widgets are pieces of code you embed on your website to add some function like a Calendar, RSS feed subscription capability, amazon reading list, etc. Unlike a plugin, no “activation” is required. Just copy and paste it into your website (usually on the sidebar). See the Blog Rush widget on the sidebar of this blog.

Social Networks - Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, Ning, Spout are all social networks. You visit the site, sign up and boom, you’re suddenly a part of something much bigger than yourself. You get socialized with strangers and people you know and people you used to know. Social networks are online communities in which you share information, yourself, your knowledge, and pretty much everything. Don’t knock them until you try one. I used to hate the idea of such things. Seemed a bit too trendy. But, I belong to a couple and find them incredibly useful, especially accidentally. I’ve found friends I haven’t heard from in years. Of course, people who I don’t want to hear from find me there too, but it’s the cost of networking online. It’s worth it, if that’s your cup of tea.

Discussion Forums - Yahoo Groups is a discussion forum. You sign up, and start posting discussion topics for other people to participate in and you can participate in discussions that are already formed. As a mentioned above, discussion forums are a type of web application. You can also publish other content on discussion boards like images and links and video. Many websites like WordPress, Netflix, MySpace, etc. have forums for discussion things particular to that website. Many companies use forums for two main purposes: getting people to come to their site and two, to have users of their sites (and products) help each other to solve technical or other issues. This I imagine saves time and money in customer service and also increases web traffic.

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