This glossary of Software Development Terms in Ordinary English is a work in progress. As I post this in September 2020, I have a list of over 130 words and phrases used by techies in daily conversations at work (with only about 1/3 defined). As I know there are plenty of people like me out there who interact with techies, but may not always get the technical language, I have decided to put together this dictionary of terms that are used in the industry so we can learn their language! This glossary may also help techies to talk about technical concepts to non-technics in more of a conversational English, or a non-industry English to help build context with their clients, stakeholders and others they interface with everyday.
This glossary not only includes technical or industry jargon many use in the software industry, but also includes vocabulary (buzzwords, corporate speak, etc.) used in professional, office settings that may or may be recognized outside of the software or IT realm as well.
The purpose of this glossary is to try to define the technical terms in English that can be understood by anyone. If you have ideas to help me fill in the blanks for the words not yet defined or to update the definitions of words already defined, contact us through our contact page to share your insights. If your business website/blog has definitions we can use here, we are happy to quote your resource and link back (we also hope for a link back to this post or another post on this blog).
Let’s get started!
Adherence: Compliance with process, audit [financial] requirements, agreement with user requirements
Agile: A way to manage a project by breaking it up into several phases, with the intent of iterative, quick delivery
Agile Manifesto: It is a document identifying key values and principles that software developers should use in their work.
ASAP: Short form of “as soon as possible.”
Acronym expansion: As soon as possible
Avail: (short for available) free at the moment
Average handling time:
Average duration of the entire customer call including call initiative, all hold times, transfers to ending the call.
AWOL: May be used in a meeting to inform the rest of the attendees someone is absent. (MIA is another similar term.) These terms derive from military culture, but are often used in corporate speak as well.
Acronym expansion: Absent without leave
Backlog: tasks not yet done by the team for the duration of a project, during a sprint, during a release (it’s like a to-do list of things that need to be done – features, bugs, etc.)
May also be known as a PBI or a Product Backlog
Bandwidth: time and/or energy to help out or get involved (synonym: cycles)
Sample question: Do you have the bandwidth?
Billable: Charges to client for the time spent on project work
Billed hours: Project work hours that are billed to client
Bio break: A euphemism for stating one has to go to the toilet or use the restroom.
Cultural Tip: In the US the word “toilet” refers only to the toilet itself and not the room the toilet is in. So, in the US, people may use the word bathroom (even if there is no bathtub in the room), restroom, ladies room, men’s room, etc.).
Bottlenecks: Stages of a project where the workflow exceeds normal capacity. According to kanabanize.com, bottlenecks frequently occurring during software testing and quality check processes.
BRB: Short form of “be right back.” Frequently used in chat conversations. However, note in more formal business chats, short forms should be avoided.
BSOD: The Blue Screen of Death
Bug /Bug fix: A temporary or permanent solution to correct a problem in the software application
Burn down/burn down chart: A graphical representation of amount of work remaining to be completed in a development sprint
Buy in: Get someone to agree to something
See this blog: Getting “Buy In” When Delivering Constructive Criticism
C: A programming language
Sample use: Could you cascade this information to the team? Please feel free to cascade this as deemed fit. (Nidhin Joseph)
CSS: Cascading Style Sheet
Cloud: It refers to servers and applications that are accessed over the Internet on a shared model or pay as you go model.
Cloud enabled: It usually refers to applications built traditionally (hosted on dedicated servers) and then migrated to the cloud.
Cloud native: A digital product that is created and maintained in the cloud. No servers are needed for cloud native apps or software.
Coding Language: It is a set of commands/instructions used by programmers or developers to instruct computers to carry out tasks – Examples include : Java, Python, C#, C++ etc.
Concall: Short way to write or say “conference call.”
Core competency: refers to capabilities, skills, resources and knowledge of a company which is not easily replicated by any other organizations.
Crack team: a team of experts who ‘spearheaded’ a transition through to ‘pilot’
Synonym: core team. (Nidhin Joseph)
Creative Interface: It is the creative user interface design which is the graphical layout of an application.
Cron: a job scheduled to run at a specified time
Cross-functional team: It is a group of people working together from different functional areas or departments of the same company or organization to achieve a business objective.
Deadline: A date or time to finish some tasks/ projects/ presentation.
Debug: To troubleshoot a problem and remove errors from a solution or a software application.
Deck: A PowerPoint (PPT) slide deck
Deep dive: A thorough and exhaustive study of a subject, often done in a short period of time
Demo: As elements of the software are completed and are functional, the developers demonstrate the functionalities of what has been completed so far (also may be called ‘sprint demo’)
Dependence: A piece of software relies/ depends on another entity (software, technology platform, hardware) to function.
Deployment: This happens when the new parts of a software are made available to the client and/or the end user. Often the code is shifted from the development environment to the user environment. This could be for updates, enhancements or for completed projects.
Deprecate: When a function or task in software should be avoided because it has been superseded by a newer functionality. The current function may continue to work in future software updates but at lower performance or with warnings advising users to switch to an alternate/newer function.
DevOps – the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications (faster time to market) and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. (The development and production environments would be identical.)
Development Environment: the developer’s workstation (which may or may not be the final target environment – which could be a mobile device, embedded system, data center, etc.). Some call this the ‘sandbox.’
Digital Design: It is visual communication that presents information about products or services through animations, interactive graphics which people can view and interact with on computer, mobile or tablet, etc.
Drill down: get into the details of something, get to the point
Due diligence: Thorough investigation/analysis to solve a bug in software or identify a feasible solution to a requested feature.
EOD: Short form of End of Day or End of Business Day (EOB).
Communication/Cultural Tip: When using this word, it’s not always clear to the receiver what time this refers to, as we may end our working days at different times. This is even more important when working across time zones. It may be helpful to add an actual time with a time zone identifier (EOD, by or before 5pm EST).
End users/users: end users are the actual people using the app or website. The end users will be referred to by different terms based on the business: college (students), store (customers), consulting (clients), hotels (guests), etc.
Fire Drill: Anything that happens unplanned, where you need to immediately provide a solution, even if you aren’t working on it right now.
Full Stack Development
Functional specification: “A functional specification is a formal document used to describe a product’s intended capabilities, appearance, and interactions with users in detail for software developers. The functional specification is a kind of guideline and continuing reference point as the developers write the programming code.” From TechTarget Network
Hard copy/soft copy
Impediments: See “road blocks”
Issue resolution: outcome of the problem and/or the process of how a problem needs to be resolve
How to use it in a sentence: We did use the IR before the closing the call.
Logged in hours
Low hanging fruit: something completed or obtained with little to no effort
Cultural note: This idiom is used outside the offices in ordinary conversations as well.
Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Onprem: On premises – hosted onsite vs the cloud
OOO: out of office
Production Environment: This is the actual live version of the app or website that the end users (customers, clients, students, general public) can access. It is in the production environment where features ‘go live.’
Production Issue: When client or actual user use the system and find a problem
Proof of concept (POC)/Prototype
QA: Quality control/testing
Red flag: A warning about something
Regroup: meet again later
How to use it in a sentence: We are running out of time today, let’s regroup tomorrow at the same time.
Roadblock: something that is causing us to get stuck when solving a problem, an impediment (“blockers” is also a common shorter form of this word I have heard)
Service Level Agreement
Short form: SLA
Sprint: (also known as development sprint)
Used in a question: Will there be any spill over after this sprint?
Spill over: Spill over are the stories which did not meet the criteria of the current sprint.
Sentence example: It looks like we will have some spill over after this sprint.
Scrum Ceremonies: the series of “meetings” that constitute a sprint- Sprint Planning, Daily Scrum (aka daily stand up), Sprint Review (aka iteration review), Sprint Retrospective (Also known as “scrum events.”)
I’ve also seen them termed as sprint ceremonies or agile ceremonies. The word ‘events’ can be used in place of ‘ceremonies’ (scrum events, agile events, sprint events).
SDLC: This acronym seems much more common than the expansion, below. It refers to the methodology or process chosen by a team or company in executing a software development project. The most common types are agile and waterfall, which can sometimes be combined, though there are conflicting viewpoints about this. A few other SLDC approaches are: DevOps, iterative model, V shaped model, big bang model, spiral model
Long form: Software Development Life Cycle
Stand up meeting/daily stand up meeting
Long form:Statement of Purpose
Sprint: the shortest amount of time to achieve tasks in a backlog (a way of time and task management in the agile methodology)
Staging/Staging Environment: A staging environment is a clone of your deliverable/shippable in a semi-private environment. It’s a clone of the real thing, but not ‘live.’ So, for example, for a website, it could be “staged” on a URL that is not available to the public. Staging helps the team and stakeholders interact with the product in a simulated environment to identify the usability, bugs, interactivity and other functionalities of the site before it is made public. In this stage, unlike the development stage (where the code is on a local machine), the code will be on a server or in the cloud (if it is cloud native).
Suite: (as in software “suite”) Read about the differences in the words suite/sweet (definition and pronunciation)
Sunset – And if you are getting rid of an application you are “sunsetting it”.
Technical Debt: the process of prioritizing speedy delivery over perfect code. Technical debt may be more relevant to agile development than waterfall development. Also known as: tech debt or code debt
Time to market
Long form: user interface
Upscale: increasing size/scope of operations or improving the quality of a service or product
Author of this post, Jennifer Kumar, coaches dev teams to be effective leaders across cultures. One aspect of building rapport with your client could be to use software development terms in ordinary English, especially with clicents who are not familiar with technology. We hope this dictionary is helpful. Get in touch with her to help upskill your team to work more impactfully with US Americans to build, scale and grow your business.
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