Definition

dynamic and static

Contributor(s): Sarah Lewis

In general, dynamic means energetic, capable of action and/or change, or forceful, while static means stationary or fixed. In computer terminology, dynamic usually means capable of action and/or change, while static means fixed.

Difference between static and dynamic

The terms dynamic and static can be used in a variety of different ways, therefore, their processes and differences are dependent on the system they are describing. However, in general, there are a few common characteristics.

Static systems are usually less intricate, take shorter time to develop and have faster loading times. The disadvantage to static components is that they are not interactive, meaning they cannot always perform required, complex functionality. Dynamic systems can handle more complex functionality and can perform customized returns based on user, channel or application. The disadvantage to dynamic components is that they require more time to load and develop.

One example of how systems can work dynamically or statically are websites. When a web page is requested by a user, the web server where the page is stored returns the HTML document to the user’s computer and the browser displays it. On a static web page, this is all that happens. The user may interact with the document, but it has no capacity to return information that is not pre-formatted. On a dynamic web page, the user can make requests for data contained in a database on the server that will be assembled on the fly according to what is requested. Static web pages are better suited for information that rarely changes while dynamic web pages are better suited for uses such as forms, search functions or comment sections.

Uses of the static and dynamic terminology

Both terms can be applied to a number of different types of things, examples include:

  • Websites- A dynamic website generates content automatically based on the user. An example of a dynamic website is Instagram, which tailors each feed based on the user and updates dynamically over time. A set of HTML capabilities are provided that help developers create dynamic websites, generally known as dynamic HTML. A static website does not utilize an external database, is written in HTML and displays the same information to every user.
  • IP addresses- Most IP addresses are considered a dynamic IP, or one that can change at any time, while a static IP reserves the same address every time. A static IP address can be purchased or requested by organizations that use dedicated services or host computer servers.
  • Programming languages- In a dynamic language, such as Perl or LISP, a developer can create variables without specifying their type. This creates more flexible programs and can simplify prototyping and some object-oriented coding. In a static programming language, such as C or Pascal, a developer must declare the type of each variable before the code is compiled, making the coding less flexible, but also less error-prone.
  • Marketing content- Dynamic content is copy that does not remain constant and can change depending on customer or channel. This type is usually generated from a backend system. Static content remains the same across all applications, such as a slogan, logo or terms and conditions.
  • Cloud computing subscriptions- When a subscriber chooses a cloud service, they can choose between a dynamic or static pricing model. A dynamic subscription is one that adjusts to how much or how little of a service the customer used while a static subscription is a fixed price that is independent of use.
  • Data hashing- Hashing is a method of indexing or retrieving items from a database that can be done dynamically or statically. Dynamic hashing occurs when the set of characters grows, shrinks or reorganizes based on how the data is being accessed. Static hashing occurs when the hash function length always remains the same.
This was last updated in August 2019

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When do you use the terms dynamic and static to describe something?
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I am studying for the CompTIA A+ exam and this explanation of dynamic has been extremely helpful! I wish you could rewrite this book! The author is confusing me. Thank you so much! :-)
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