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Introduction to the Web

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Internet, also known as the "World Wide Web", is a network comprised of a global collection of networks that are interconnected for the purposes of sharing and transferring data. Computers on this vast network can communicate with one another using a standard language, or technically known as "protocols". The most common protocol used on the internet is Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). No single organization owns or is responsible for the Web.

How Do People Connect to the Web?

In the earlier days of the Web, people would connect their computers to the Internet by connecting a modem to their phone line. Today, there are many options for various types of devices that can easily connect to the Web. To connect, all you need is a device that runs the TCP/IP protocol, a connection (wired or wireless) that taps into an internet provider. Making a connection with an provider can be accomplished via modem, DSL, 3G, etc... As technology improves, more and more options are available.

How Does it Work?

When you get on the Internet, the general idea is to get information, or share resources. Where is this information stored? Well, information is stored on web pages. These web pages are stored and serviced by Web Servers. Web Browsers, such as Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, etc.., are used to connect to web servers and retrieve data. Microsoft Windows is pre-loaded with Internet Explorer, but you can install another web browser as well. Other operating systems may have other types of browsers installed by default. At the moment, Internet Explorer is the most popular browser used, but other browsers are quickly taking market share. Of course, web browsing is not the only activity you can do on the Web. Sending and reading email is also another example.

Displaying Content

When a user is interesting in fetching content on the web, the web browser is used to connect to the target web server using a standard protocol. The browser will fetch the web page by sending an HTTP Request. This request will contain information, including the web page address. To fetch the page, the user will need to specify the page address including protocol and optionally the port number. If the port number is not specified, the default port of '80" is used. This is because, by default HTTP uses port 80. Web servers are generally configured by default to listen on port 80. For example, to access a web page you may specify the URL of http://www.domain.com, or https://www.domain.com:8080. Once the page is retrieved, your browser interprets the Hyptertext Markup Language (HTML) code that was sent to the client by the server. HTML uses tags to instruct the browser on how to display the information on the screen. Since HTML version 4.01 is the current standard, most modern browsers should be able to display the data presented correctly. Older browsers that are not fully compatible with version 4.01 may have difficulty displaying some data because they do not have support for all of the tags included in version 4.01.

Web Standards

The World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, is an international community where member organizations, a full-time staff, and the public work together to develop Web standards. Led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe, W3C's mission is to lead the Web to its full potential. Visit W3C's web page for more information, http://www.w3.org

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