Illustration of numerous speech bubbles on a teal background. Some bubbles include machine cogs, symbolising tech jargon in the conversation.
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10 terms you need to know when working with tech teams

7 Dec 2022

Need a primer on tech jargon to communicate with your co-workers? We’ve got you covered.

Do you know your front-end from your back-end? Do you know how being agile fits into a scrum?

Like all industries, tech has its own language which can pose a challenge to newcomers and outsiders. And as digital transformations sweep across the business world, we all need to know a thing or two about tech jargon so we don’t get left behind.

Inspired by the Code Institute’s Guide to Tech Lingo for 2023, we’ve put together a brief compendium of 10 terms to get you started.

Agile working

Agile working is well suited to the recent push towards more flexible ways of working, but it has been a fundamental practice on tech teams for a long time now. Working in an agile framework typically means the focus is on outputs, not on limiting the route to get there. Agile teams typically break projects down into smaller increments and tackle them in an iterative way.

Deloitte Digital’s Stephen Garvey explained to that agile working is not just about flexibility in how and when you deliver a project, but it’s also about having the tools to offer this flexibility.


The scrum framework takes its name from rugby and involves teams self-organising around a problem, project or task. Scrum teams often involve people working across different functions and a scrum master to keep things focused and on track.

Scrum is just one approach to agile project management, and it’s particularly popular with software development teams. In a scrum framework, teams often work in short-term sprints to get jobs done, harking back to that iterative approach laid out by the agile methodology.

Open source

According to Source Code Control founder Martin Callinan, “All software developed today will include open-source software components and libraries.” A well-known example is the Android mobile operating system, which is open to anyone to clone and create an alternative, or ‘forked’, version.

Eschewing the model of building software on proprietary code that’s closely guarded, open source shares the underpinning code for programs, encouraging a community-led approach to development. Open-source software is typically free to download and use, or a programmer can take the code and modify it to suit their own ends.


Source code is typically stored in a repository, which includes files as well as a record of changes made. GitHub is a popular repository hosting service for open-source software, taking its name from Git, a free-to-use tool for tracking changes in a set of files.

A shared repository gives developers access to the files needed when they are collaborating on a project. On a platform such as GitHub, developers can interact with fellow team members but also a community of millions who can help to hash out problems and propose solutions.

Low-code and no-code

Both low-code and no-code platforms tackle the tech skills shortage in different ways.

Low-code software development platforms streamline processes with drag-and-drop creation tools and ready-made elements, but with the option for a trained developer make adjustments with some hand-coding where necessary.

While low-code can help speed up development, no-code allows team members without coding skills to build simple apps for productivity and automation without having to call on the technical team.

According to Derya Sousa, co-founder of no-code development platform Kianda, this easy-to-use “building blocks’” approach can enable “greater inclusion in the enterprise digital transformation journey”.


The back-end of an app or website is the ‘under the hood’ engine and typically comprises a web server, application and database. Back-end development thus requires knowledge of server-side programming languages such as Python, Ruby and PHP.

The front-end represents the public-facing layer, such as the webpage you visit or the app interface the user interacts with. Thus, front-end development often comes with some graphic design skill.

Sometimes the front and back-end are developed in tandem, but ‘headless’ implementations where the front and back-end are independent of each other are becoming more common. Nonetheless, there will be continued demand for full-stack developers who are skilled in both front-end and back-end software development, with a catalogue of coding languages, libraries and frameworks in their skillset.


A content management system (CMS) is a platform where creators, writers and editors can collaborate on and prepare content before it’s pushed live to an app, website or other application. WordPress is the most common CMS platform and is used by more than two-fifths of the world’s websites.

WordPress is highly adaptable and can be used as a regular CMS, where the front and back-end are linked, or a headless CMS where they are decoupled. This means changes can be made to the front-end without adapting the back-end, and vice versa.

A headless CMS is particularly useful when content needs to be delivered to multiple display types – be that a webpage, mobile app or smart device. This is achieved using APIs.


API stands for application programming interface, and these three letters are vital to modern digital services. APIs allow different software programs to communicate and interact, enabling interoperability.

Open APIs have accelerated software development by allowing platforms to build on existing technology rather than start from scratch. APIs are what allow you to log into websites with accounts from other sites, or easily pay for things online using a third-party service.

APIs can also be restricted for internal use only, or with authorised partners.


APIs are how software communicates with software but UX, meaning user experience, is about how your system communicates with the people who use it. This is heavily focused on that front-end layer and the visual design of your interface, but UX goes deeper than that. It also accounts for accessibility, ease of use, efficiency and the flow of the user journey.

That’s why UX teams include designers but also researchers, copywriters and strategists – all of whom are working towards the end goal of user satisfaction.


An algorithm is a piece of code that takes inputs and delivers outputs. These programmed instructions perform tasks for us every day, such as delivering search results. In this case, Google’s proprietary algorithms deliver results from its comprehensive index that are tailored to match your user profile. The rules that decide the results you see and in what order are mapped out in the code.

Algorithms can be combined to create neural networks, which is an attempt to create a decision-making engine similar to the human brain. Neural networks represent a highly advanced form of machine learning, which is about building programs that can learn and train themselves to process data and deliver more accurate results.

The quest to bring human-equivalent decision-making to computing is all part of the field of artificial intelligence. And while artificial general intelligence is still a distant concept, AI and the algorithms underpinning it are becoming more and more commonplace as technology becomes ever more capable of performing tasks that previously required a person to complete.

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Elaine Burke
By Elaine Burke

Elaine Burke was editor of Silicon Republic until 2023, and is now the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. Elaine joined Silicon Republic in 2011 as a journalist covering gadgets, new media and tech jobs. She later served as managing editor before stepping up as editor in 2019. She comes from a background in publishing and is known for being particularly pernickety when it comes to spelling and grammar – earning her the nickname, Critical Red Pen.

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