Observing the Protocols: HTTP, WWW, URL and HTML

Written By: Mark Meshulam

Many among us sail through our lives blissfully ignorant of the reason our web addresses start with the secret code “http//:” Increasingly we think it is superfluous because when we omit entering it into the address line of our browser, usually we arrive at our destination regardless.

I have even seen people dropping the “www.” part of the web address, and they sometimes connect anyway. What does it all mean?

Let’s start with http. It is an acronym for the tongue twister HyperText Transfer Protocol. When you type this into your web browser, you are telling it that you intend to interact with the internet according to a specific set of rules (protocols), and the internet will respond in return.

Your web browser, such as Internet Explorer(tm), is software which helps you communicate with the internet by sending your requests out and retrieving the files you are seeking. When you search the internet or type a URL (Uniform Resource Locator, or web address) into the address bar of your browser, you are in effect requesting to view files.

These files could be text and images. Your browser assembles and displays them according to more rules, this time the rules come from the language of the internet, HTML (“Hypertext Markup Language”).

When you navigate to a website, your browser looks for a file named index.htm. This file contains the basic structure of the overall site, and tells your browser what other files to look for and how to display them on your screen.

When you click on a link, your browser sends out another request, and either replaces the page you are viewing with a new page, or opens an entirely new page and displays the files.

The huge portion of the internet which uses http:// to find websites which in turn use HTML language for displaying files is called the World Wide Web. Thus the URL http://www.website.com is basically saying:

Ms. Browser, please use the HyperText Transfer Protocol to access the World Wide Web and obtain files from website.com. Then display them on my screen according to the rules written in the file index.htm, which is written in Hypertext Markup Language.

And the amazing thing is… it does!
About the Author

Mark Meshulam offers the Poingo Productivity Suite, a suite of simple software programs which make your work, easier and much more fun.

visit http://www.poingo.com

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