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We feels it is about time to put some meaning behind the technical jargon that is used throughout the community. If you have heard a term and do not know what it means take a look through our new glossary. It will be constantly growing, so if there is a blinding omission why not leave a comment and we will update it. The definitions here are intentionally simple and aimed primarily at new or inexperienced Magento users.



Stands for application programming interface. This is basically a library of routines and procedures that is made available to the programmer, usually to address a specific problem or area.


A set of instructions to solve a specific problem.


Can have many meanings in computing. Generally this refers to a database attribute which is a column in a table. More generically an attribute is a data entry that forms part of a definition. It should be associated with a unique name.


This is a store of duplicated recently accessed files, stored in a location that is faster to access than the original file. Its aim is to improve access speed however the downside is any changes made to the original file may not be picked up until the duplicate file is accessed several times.

Configurable Products

Are products which may have a finite set of customisable options defined by the website owner. For example: A t-shirt may have options for the colour to be red, blue, yellow or green.


In the broadest sense, this would mean defining rules for Magento or an extension to address a specific problem.


Is a type of file which separates its attributes using commas. It's commonly used to import or export data. In the case of Magento, it's widely used to define shipping rules.

Custom Rates

In terms of shipping, this refers to shipping rates that the user has defined, usually via a CSV file.

Drop Shipping

Is a method of retail whereby the retailer doesn't hold stock for any of the products they sell; Instead the products are held by the supplier and the order is sent on to them by the retailer. There may be multiple suppliers for products.

Flat Rates

Is a shipping technique whereby all products are shipped at the same price, regardless of value/destination/weight etc. Magento has this functionality pre-built in.


Stands for File transfer protocol allows us to transfer files between machines. There are many programs that make this service very easy to use by implementing a "drag and drop" interface.


Is a method of shipping employed by UPS and FedEx. If free shipping is an option, "Ground" is usually the method that would be used as it's the cheapest.

Handling Fees/Rates

Are a surcharge added to the order or item, usually to cover the cost of packing the item.

Live Rates

Are shipping prices that are automatically generated by shipping providers such as UPS, FedEx, USPS or DHL based on the weight of the product being shipped and the products destination.

Magento Extensions

Are software suites that add additional functionality to the existing Magento software or extend the existing functionality of Magento. They are usually a solution to address a very specific problem area.


Is a recursive acronym standing for PHP: Hypertext Processor. This is a scripting language developed for web development. It's used throughout Magento.


Is a data structure used to rapidly locate other data.


Is a image of exactly what the user can see on their display. This can be useful for troubleshooting or guiding someone through a process.


Stands for Stock Keeping Unit. It is a unique reference to a product in your stock.


Stands for Simple Query Language. It is the language that is used to perform operations on a database such as add, update or delete.

Table Rates

See custom rates.

Tiered Pricing

Is a sales method whereby the more of a particular product is purchased, the more discount is applied to the price.


In terms of shipping, this refers to the method used to combine multiple shipping prices. For example: If product A costs £5 to ship and product B costs £10 to ship, should the total price to ship be £15 or £10 or £5? The totalling allows the user to choose the method that best suits their needs.