What’s In A (C)NAME?: Basic Must-Know Computer Terms For Creating Your Most Dynamic Digital Publication


If you’re getting ready to publish your content in the digital space, you are undoubtedly being asked to dive deeper into tech-speak than you have in the past. Certain questions like what CNAME you will be using and where you would like to direct your API are standard, and ones you can easily pass on to your I.T. team to answer. Yet knowing the meaning of these terms will not only help you answer these questions with ease but inform you on how to make stronger, more powerful decisions for the life and ROI of your digital publication.

There are three basic terms that form the foundation of how your digital publication becomes available to your readers through your website while being hosted on a digital publishing platform:

I.P. Address
DNS Database

They are what your digital publication is to the World Wide Web as what an apartment building is to the postal service.

Here is the basic summary:

A computer hosting a website has an I.P. address that identifies it to the World Wide Web, just like an apartment building has an address so the post office can identify its location.

Just like an apartment building has several units, your computer (or server) may house several websites within it. You need to assign a separate record name to each website because they will all have the same I.P. address. This record name that you create is called the CNAME, similar to an apartment number for each website that lives on your computer system.

The DNS Database System is like a post office that connects your computer’s (or server’s) domain name to its I.P. address so the World Wide Web can recognize it. Similar to how the post office keeps track of addresses in order to deliver mail to and from your home, a DNS Database System keeps track of all websites through their assigned I.P Addresses and CNAMES if more than one website exists under the same I.P. Address.

Once you understand these terms you can then understand how a digital publishing platform can host your digital publication while allowing you to make that publication available on your own website. When you create a digital publication through a digital publishing company in HTML5 and the publication now has its own URL for you to share with your readers through your site, you need to create a CNAME for it so the DNS Database can distinguish it from your computer’s I.P. Address. Depending on where your ideal reader spends the most time online, this can help you decide between investing in an HTML5 version of your publication or a designing a custom app, which exists outside of your website altogether.

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