Atomic Glossary, Part 1 – Software Terms

Being a non-tech person working for a Software Development company, I hear a lot of things around the office that sound like another language to my ears. In an effort to join the conversation and understand more about what we do, I’ve decided to take it upon myself to create a glossary of terms.

Since there are so many words and so little time, I’m going to break them down into separate categories and blog posts, with room for expansion. I feel that if I need help in understanding what there meanings are, then maybe many others could benefit as well.

Today we’re going to talk Tech Terms. Tech Terms in the standard of which others use in the industry.


Not a diagnosis from your Doctor.

API stands for application programming interface. It’s a specific method (prescribed by a computer operating system or by an application program) by which a programmer writing an application program can make requests of the operating system or another application. In other words, it’s a piece of code meant to be digested by another.

My coworker Shawn Anderson gave me a great metaphor. Every dog already knows how to sleep and eat, but you get to teach your dog things — roll over, sit, fetch, etc.. API is that process of which you teach your dogs new tricks and how to react to you.


Not an infestation where you need to call your local pest control company.

A bug is a coding error in a computer program — those nasty little things can hold a Developer up for hours or weeks. A bug fix is a correction to those things.


Not a southern pronunciation for “get”.

A version control system for Software Development. Apparently there are many forms of this. Git is just a widely used one. It’s a working directory  that’s a full-fledged repository with complete history and full version-tracking capabilities, independent of network access or a central server.

While you’re developing software, it will track all your changes and changes anyone else makes for that matter. If something goes wrong, it’s much easier to look back and find out what happened.


Not something you scream when you drop something on your toe.

I see this everywhere – in my bosses email, promotional posters for Tech Events. And now I FINALLY know what it means. It’s an acronym for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. This is a non-profit organization that develops, defines, and reviews electronics and computer science standards. Who knew?

Open Source

Not a fancy term for a Public Library.

When something is called an Open Source code, that means it’s available for Developers to modify and improve code for the greater good of the Software.

Ruby on Rails

Not a children’s television program.

Also called simply “Rails”, this is an open-source web development software. It’s used to run applications like blogs, email systems, twitter, etc.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my explanations and most of all I hope they’ve helped. I’m still learning, and welcome others to improve upon my definitions. Feel free to give better examples, or suggest what other Tech Terms I should look into and help define. In the upcoming blog posts I plan to go into other terms we use as apart of our process as well as some Atomic Object Jargon. Keep an eye out!