How the World Wide Web works on your computer.

Up until now we have talked about your "visiting" other pages & sites around the world. But what actually happens when you click on a hypertext link is this:

Your browser processes your instruction, and if the link is in the same document, jumps to the specified part of the document. If the link is to a different document, your Browser sends out a request to the Server that holds the requested document. You may see messages in the status bar at the bottom of the screen that can tell you what is going on.

Then your Browser will load that document, and any graphics that belong to it, and display them on your screen. Once the transfer is complete, even though that document might have come from Europe, the USA or our own server, it is now sitting in memory on your computer!

And it really doesn't matter what type of computer you have. One of the strengths of the Internet is that it is truly multi-platform. Web pages are written in a special language (called HTML) that is interpreted by the browser on your machine and displayed accordingly. Browsers have been written for virtually every computer currently available, although market share tends to determine the range of software available, and the rate of development of upgrades or new products. The PC, Macintosh and Unix Operating Systems are by far the most thoroughly supported by readily available internet software.

Because the browser you use determines how any document looks on your machine, you will find that the same document may look different on the Macintosh and the PC, or with the Mosaic browser compared to Netscape or Microsoft's Internet Explorer. Some Browser developers (particularly Netscape and Microsoft) are introducing their own extended (HTML) tags which will only work with their respective Browsers. This appears to be part of a browser war for market share.

There is also pressure being exerted by groups an individuals supporting the HTML "standards" for all browser developers to support those standards, and implement more of the HTML3 features, rather than head off in their own proprietary directions.

SUMMARY: Web pages are WWW documents generally written in a platform independent language (HTML) that is downloaded to your computer, along with any graphics or additional material required. How they look on your computer is up to the Web Browser you use.


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