Technology Simplified

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Useful for:

  • People who have no idea how their browser manages to deliver the web content they are exploring

Not relevant for:

  • People familiar with how HTML works

More technical help:

Use the tags along the bottom of this article to explore other related posts.

Browsing the web is feels in so many way like reading a book or watching the television but below the surface it couldn’t be more different. In fact the browser is working to a set of instructions called HTML. Once you type in a URL the browser requests the instructions from the relevant server. If you want to find out how it knows where to get them from have quick look at our “How Does:” article here.

These instructions then tell the browser how to draw the page you are looking at. It will have instructions like “Write the text here”, “put this image here”, “make a link to this other page” or “embed this video clip here”  etc. The objects it embeds such as images and video clips don’t necessarily need to come from the same server. In the instructions will also be details of where each item can be found. Complex pages such as will be the result of many thousands of lines of instructions and resources possibly using objects from all over the internet.

In order to speed things up your browser will store or “cache” images and other objects it collects to create the page on your local computer. Then if it needs the item again it can load it from disk rather than take the time and use up broadband activity in getting it again form the internet. A word of warming here, this caching means that anyone wanting to see what you have been browsing can check this cache and see what you have been doing. This may or may not be a problem if you friends and family can see. However many viruses and other programs called malware can read this cache too and it could be that a confidential document, you had to log on to a website to read, suddenly pops up in the public arena. I would recommend clearing your cache after every browsing session. Most browsers allow you to set this to happen automatically. Also make sure you are using an up to date virus security package irrespective of whether you are using Windows. Linux or Apple. Were all at risk.

Try your hand a writing HTML. The site is a wonderful place to learn with tutorials and has great reference pages too. The HTML reference pages are particularly good as they allow you to try stuff out in real time. Have a look at the page for the ol tag, click the  try it yourself button form w3schools button and try various settings.

Another word of warning. If  you do decide to experiment with website design avoid Microsoft Word like the plague. It does allow you to convert documents in HTML. However it produces the most awful sprawling code that has problems with a number of browsers.

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436 · December 11, 2009 · Everyday, Guides · Tags: , , , , , , · [Print]

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