Glossary of Terms


ADFS - Active Directory Federation Services, an authentication and SSO service published by Microsoft

API - Application Programming Interface, a method by which a software system makes data from that system available to be used in other software systems or to be posted publicly on a website.

Authentication - The process where a person attempting to use software proves their identity (also known as login). This usually involves the person entering a username and password combination


Batch - A list of updates to be sent to SEVIS regarding an institution's international population

Batching - The process where an institution will send a batch to SEVIS, SEVIS will process the updates overnight, and the institution will download the confirmations and any new documentation from SEVIS the following day

Business needs - The items, resources and tools required for an organization to complete its business process, achieve goals, and/or maintain compliance with regulations

Business process - The policies, procedures, documents, and communication that make up the standard way of completing work for a particular organization


CAS - Central Authentication Service, an SSO and authentication service that primarily uses XML

CNAME - Canonical Name record, an entry in an institutional DNS that specifies that a particular URL is an alias of a different URL

CSR - Certificate Signing Request, a document containing a public key and identifying details about the website's owner, that is required in order to obtain an SSL certificate.

Coordinator - Terra Dotta employee responsible for assisting the Implementor with communication and organization of the implementation process


Database - A collection of information about people, places or things. Generally organized in a table format, each person/place/thing is a 'record' or a 'row' in the database, and qualities of that person/place/thing are 'fields' or 'columns'. A single database can have many tables that are organized to relate to one another in a structured way

Data loader - An automated Terra Dotta process that picks up the client SIS file from the SSH folder and loads it into the client's SIS database, then updates a log with the result of the process

Data cleaning - The process of correcting and updating applicant/student data

Data validation - The process of checking that applicant/student data is correct, complete, relevant and correctly formatted

Dependent - The spouse, child or other family member of a person traveling to the US on a visa

DNS - Domain Name System, a directory of website (domain) names and addresses. An institution will also have their own DNS that maintains the information for all sites within their own domain

Documentation - A detailed description of how something works and how it is supposed to be used

Domain name - A way to classify and identify a website or computer, so it can be located and accessed over the internet. Example:


Encryption - The process of encoding data so that it can only be read by an application that contains the correct key

Environment - A computer system that hosts or runs a software application. May be a single computer or a group of servers in a data center


F-1 - A type of visa for travel to the US, where the primary purpose for travel is to complete a course of study. International students with this type of visa are frequently called "Fs" or "F-1s"

F-2 - The visa type for a dependent of someone with an F-1 visa

Firewall - A security system that monitors and controls access to a server or computer. Often used to block unauthorized users or systems from accessing the environment

Functional office/Functional user - The person or persons in the client institution who will be the primary, everyday users of TDS and 'owners' of the software


Go live - The process of making a new site or application available to users, indicating that the site is ready for everyday use


HR - Human Resources, a reference to the institution's employee data (as opposed to student data)


IdP - Identity Provider, the institutional system that maintains user credentials, and interfaces with an SP (Service Provider) to authenticate that institution's users

Implementation - The process of planning, customizing, configuring and integrating a TDS site in preparation for going live

Implementer - Terra Dotta employee responsible for primary communication with a new client, and for overseeing and managing the entire implementation process from purchase to go-live

InCommon - An organization made up of a federation of universities and other institutions, that facilitates authentication integrations between its members

Integration- The project to configure institutional data systems to interface with Terra Dotta software so that:

a) institutional user data is seamlessly, reliably, and appropriately available for daily use in the software, and

b) institutional users' identities can be safely verified through authentication

Optionally, most integration projects also include the configuration of a custom URL.

Integration Analyst - Terra Dotta employee responsible for overseeing and managing the technical integration

IP address - Internet Protocol address, a number that provides the location of a computer or other device in a network. An IP can be public or private, and be assigned by the user's Internet Service Provider or by a local network administrator

ISSS - International Student (and Scholar) Services, the office in the institution that provides services to non-US citizens and maintains institutional compliance with US Government immigration regulations

IT - Information Technology. Person or office in the client institution who will be responsible for working with Terra Dotta to complete the technical integration and/or other technical projects


J-1 - A type of visa for a student or scholar to travel to the US, indicating that the traveler is sponsored by an institution. Visitors with this visa type are frequently called "Js" or "J-1s"

J-2 - The visa type for a dependent of someone with a J-1 visa


Live site - A site that is in everyday use by applicants/students or administrators, and containing real data (as opposed to only test data)

LDAP(S) - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (over SSL),


Mapping - The process of matching data elements from one system or data type to another system or data type. For example: matching each column in a SIS data file to the place in TDS where that data will be displayed and stored.

Metadata - A document that provides explanatory information and descriptions of a dataset or the data contained in a system.


Primary Administrator - The person in the client institution who is or will be principally responsible for overseeing both the daily use and overall maintenance of the Terra Dotta Software

Production site - The instance of TDS that is the client's primary site in use everyday, for all real users. The production site is opposed to the Sandbox site (the Sandbox site is primarily used for testing).

Push File: Terra Dotta generated file that includes applicant/student information that will be consumed by a client's campus SIS. The client uses this Push File to create/activate applicant/student records in their Campus SIS.


RTI - Real-Time Interface,

RTI Connect - A feature of Terra Dotta's ISSS solution that allows admins to directly access SEVIS RTI from an interface within TDS.


SAML - Security Assertion Markup Language, a way of formatting text to facilitate communication between applications over the internet. Often used by Shibboleth or ADFS authentication systems

Sandbox site -

SEVIS - Student and Exchange Visitor Information System. The US Government requires US institutions to use this online system to provide detailed and up-to-date information on non-US citizens who are students or scholars on their campus

SEVIS beta -

SEVIS module -

Server - A computer or computer program that stores and provides the information available on a webpage or over the internet

SFTP - Secure File Transfer Protocol/Process, a way to securely send private information over the internet

Shibboleth/Shibboleth InCommon -

SIS - Student Information System, centralized institutional database system such as Banner, PeopleSoft, Colleague/Datatel, or Jenzabar

SIS Feed- A nightly extract that is used to refresh applicant information pulled into Terra Dotta software from an institution’s Student Information System.

SIS database -

SIS refresh -

SSH folder - Secure Shell folder, a folder that receives information transferred over the internet. Access is strictly controlled so that only authorized users can update or view the information

SSL certificate - A digital document installed on a server that allows a user to access an internet site securely. This document certifies the site's owner and encrypts communications between the site and the user's browser

SSO - Single Sign On, a method where institutional users can enter a single username/password combination to access a number of different university applications. This information only needs to be entered once per browser session

SOP - Statement of Process, a document that lists the steps required to complete a standard procedure

SOW - Statement of Work, an agreement between Terra Dotta and the client that provides a description of the project to be undertaken and the estimated cost

SP - Service Provider,

Static IP - An IP address that will not change over time

Subdomain -

System of Record- When an applicant/student submits an application in TDS for the very first time, TDS is the system of record. Once the applicant's/student's TDS user record is converted, the Campus SIS becomes the system of record.


Task -

TDS - Terra Dotta Software


URL - Uniform Resource Locator, the address of an internet site that appears in the browser's address bar

User - Anyone who uses a site or software

UUUID - Unique, Universal, Unchanging Identifier, a institutionally-assigned ID (such as a student/employee number). This ID must be:

  1. Unique, in that no two people have the same UUUID
  2. Universal, in that everyone on the campus has one, whether they are faculty, staff or a student
  3. Unchanging, so that even if the person changes their name, withdraws and then returns, or graduates and is hired as staff, they will keep the same UUUID.


XML - eXtensible Markup Language, a particular way of formatting text in order to facilitate communication between applications over the internet. Often used by CAS authentication systems