Programming Terminology

Updated: 14 Feb 2024

AddressA specific location in memory.
AI Artificial Intelligence. Systems that act like humans e.g Chat bots.
Alpha A very early version of a program still under development.
APIApplication Programming Interface. Set of functions or routines to access features of an OS or system.
ArgumentA value needed for a subroutine or function.
ArrayA list of values with the same variable name. e.g. Names$(20) = A list of 20 people's names.
Assembler Converts human readable assembly language into machine code (numbers).
AssemblyMachine code instructions represented with mnemonics for each instruction for easy reading. E.g. ADD, SUB, JMP, SUB, RET
Associative index Uses a non-numeric value to set or retreive data from an array. E.g. fruit['apple'].
BASIC Beginner's all purpose symbolic instruction code. An interpreted or compiled language using more user friendly command names and syntax.
Beta A program with most of the functionality included but still has bugs and requires more work before release.
Binary A base 2 number system using characters 0,1. Also refers to compiled program files. E.g. 10100 = 16
Boolean A value or condition that is True or False.
Breakpoint A book marked point in program when a program is stopped so further investigation or debugging.
Branch A statement to jump or branch to another part of the program e.g. JMP, GOTO
BugA error or mistake in a program.
BufferAn area of memory reserved to store data.
ByteA value containing either unsigned value (0-255) or an signed value (-127 to 128). Character values are usually Bytes.
C/C++ Compiler for the C language. C++ is the class object based version. Commonly used on a wide range of platforms and operating systems.
C# C Hash. Microsoft's compiler based on C and the .NET Framework class system.
CGI Common Gateway Interface. A standard for dynamic web pages using scripting and programming languages such as perl, php, vbs.
ConcatenationProcess of joining one or more strings to make another string.
E.g. "per" & "cent" = "percent"
ConditionA check for equality or less/greater between values.
E.g. =, <> or !=, <, >, <=, >=
CharacterCan be any printable digit, letter, symbol or other characters. See ASCII table for available characters.
Class A group of variables and subroutines (aka methods).
Cobol Common business orientated language. Language commonly used on mainframe and mini-computers.
CommentA remark by the programmer to explain some part of the code.
CompileProcess to convert source code into executable object code.
ConditionAn Expression that evaluates to true or false e.g A=5, B<6, D>=4
ConstantA name of a value that never changes. e.g. PI is always 3.14
CounterA variable which is incremented or decremented in a loop. e.g. FOR..NEXT
DebuggingProcess of removing errors (or bugs) from programs.
Decision A condition in a program to execute one set of instructions if it true or another set if it is false. E.g. IF..THEN..ELSE
DeclarationAn instruction to inform the format of a variable etc. E.g. Integer, Floating Point, String etc.
Developer A person who designs, writes and tests programs , also known as a Programmer.
DirectivesSpecial instructions for the compiler's use only and not included in the program itself.
Engine A package framework of functions and tools designed specifically for a type of software such as games.
Errors Errors can by syntax errors where code does not meet documented format, or logical where the processing or result is not what you expected it to produce.
EventA specific action accures such as a timed event or a user pressing the mouse or selecting a menu option.
ExpressionA series of values, operators and functions to produce a result. E.g. 5 * 6 + 10
Floating PointA decimal value e.g. 10.5, 1.7, 1034.0
FlowchartA diagram to show instructions and the flow from one instruction to the next using boxes and lines.
Fortran Formula Translation language, used for mathematical an scientific programs.
Framework A collection of prepackaged solutions containing clases, functions and subroutines that ca be used as a basis of programs. Examples, Node.js, .NET Framework, .NET Core, ~Angular, React.
Freeware A program written by an individual which is freely distributable to use with no cost to user.
FunctionOne or more program instructions which will eventually return a result.
E.g. SQR(9) function with return a 3.
GadgetAn icon or button on a Window or Screen.
Header files Files that contain code that may be shared between source files for things like common system include files, variable and function definitions.
HexademcimalA base 16 number system using characters 0-9,A-F.
IncludeAnother program file which may contain lists of constants, functions and subroutines needed for the program.
IndexThe nth item of an array.
E.g. Names$(10) is the 10th item of Names array.
InheritanceA case where a class can inherit or access data and methods of its parent class.
InstanceAn instance of a class is an area of memory to hold data in a given class' format.For example, an Astra is an instance of the Car class.
IntegerA whole number e.g. 1,2,3,4,5.
IterationA counted loop of program instructions. e.g. A FOR loop.
Interpret Process when a program is run that each instruction is converted to machine code when each line is to be executed. Does not require compiling before running e.g. Arexx, Basic, Javascript.
Java A portable language which can be run on any platform with a Runtime Environment installed. First developed by Sun Microsystems and now owned by Oracle.
Javascript A scripting language used by web sites for dynamic content. First developed by Netscape.
Library A collection of functions and subroutines which can be called from a program such as AmigaOS Libraries, Unix .so or .lib files and Window's DLLs (Dynamic Link Libraries). Libraries can be linked to a program or shared between programs.
Linked ListA list of values linked by special pointers to the next item in the list.
LinkingProcess to combine compiled object code with operating system supplied libraries and startup code to produce a self-contained executable program.
LoopA list of program instructions repeated either with a count or a condition. e.g. FOR..NEXT, DO WHILE, DO..UNTIL loops
Machine CodeA Program written in the processor's native language. Contains a list of numbers to represent instructions and data.
Machine Learning A system that learns as it processes and analysis data withhout being specifically programmed to do so.
MakefileA text file that describes how a program is to be compiled into a program.
MenuA method to allow a user to select a task from a list.
MethodA subroutine for used to process data in a given class.
Mnemonic A 'English' representation of an assembly instruction.
E.g. LD = Load, JMP = Jump, BE = Branch if Equal, MOV = Move
ObjectAn object can be anything, a vehicle, a car, a person, a shape, an account. It can be anything. Objects can be 'members' of other objects e.g. a car is a member of vehicles.
Object codeA compiled program but not yet linked to libraries or added startup code (see C).
Object OrientatedA programming methodology which combines subroutines and variables together into classes with a common purpose. E.g. Account class has a Opening balance, Account number, Current balance and can be Opened, Closed, Debited or Credited to.
OctalA Base 8 number system. E.g. 124 = 1 x 16 + 2 x 8 + 4 x 1 = 16+16+4=36
Open Source Software source code is made publicly available for use by anyone to use and or update. Licences include GNU GPL, Apache, MIT etc.
OperatorA simple function on one or more values.
E.g. + (add), - (subtract), * (multiply), / (divide) ^ (power).
Overload Technique using for subprograms or functions to give different methods depending on number of arguments or results esp. in object-orientated languages.
ParameterA value needed for a subroutine or function.
Perl Common scripting language used on unix platforms and sometimes on web sites.
PHP PHP: Prehypertext Processor. Another common scripting language used on web sites.
PointerA variable which points to an address in memory and can be updated to point to neighbouring addresses.
ProgramA set of instructions to perform a given task.
e.g A game, a database, Word processor etc.
Project Contains the code, images and other files for a computer program, web site etc
Proprietry Program and source code is privately owned and licenced by the developer or distributor for use.
Prototype The syntax of a function or subroutine call including format of any parameters required. A demo program which shows off some of the program's functionality.
Pseudo CodeA method in which program logic is written down using English like commands instead of a specific programming language.
Python General programming language which is easy to learn and has powerful features.
QueueA list of items that are added at one end and removed from the other.
ScreenA workspace on the display to show windows and applications. Workbench is an example of a screen.
Script A program which is written in plain text and run via an interpreter e.g. VBScript, Javascript, DOS, Powershell, Bash etc.
SDKSoftware Development Kit. Set of programs, tools, tutorials, documentation and sample code to help develop programs for a given system.
SequenceA list of program instructions run one after another.
Shareware A program written by an individual which is freely distributed but limited in some functionality to encourage users to pay for the full version
Solution A collection of projects that is used to create a program suite.
Source codeA collection of files when compiled produces a program.
StackA list of values that are added and removed from the top only.
Static A variable whose contents remains static no matter where it is used in main program or subprograms.
StringA series of character values e.g. John, Bicycle, 01422 556780
StructuredA program which is split into subroutines and functions each with a specific purpose.
SubprogramSee subroutine.
SubroutineA seperate group of instructions to perform a specific process or function within a program which may be called one or more times.
SubstringProcess to extract part of string from a string.
Syntax Format of a command e.g. FOR var=first TO last [STEP n]
ThreadingA technique where two or more routines are split off and run at the same time. Possible to do in some languages such as C, Java.
VariableA location in memory to store a number or a string.
WindowA portion of the screen to display information in text or graphical format.