Working with the Web:
Browser Basics

Title: Jan's Illustrated Computer Literacy 101
españolIcon: Change web
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Project Objectives

  • Describe the Internet & the World Wide Web
  • Know what a browser does
  • Know what HTML code is
  • Know the parts of a web address
  • Know what you need to work with the Web
  • Know the parts of the IE interface
  • Set the Options for IE
  • Use all types of links: address, text, graphic, image map
  • Navigate around a page, between pages, in frames
  • Use a form
  • Use Back and Forward buttons
  • Use the History list
  • Create and manage Favorites
  • Use the address bar
  • Save a page, an image, a selection
  • Configure page for printing
  • Print a page, a selection
  • Use a search engine and a web directory and know what each is best for

Where you are:
JegsWorks > Lessons > Web

Before you start...

Project 1: Browser Basics Arrow - Subtopic open
    ConnectingTo subtopics
    IE InterfaceTo subtopics
    NavigatingTo subtopics
    PrintingTo subtopics
    SavingTo subtopics
    SearchingTo subtopics
    ExercisesTo subtopics

Project 2: HTML BasicsTo subtopics


What is the Web?

The World Wide Web (or WWW or Web for short) and the Internet are terms that are often used as though they mean the same thing. Actually, the Web is only a portion of the Internet. So let's start with finding out what the Internet is.

The Internet

The World connected through the InternetThe Internet is simply a network of computer networks. But there is nothing simple about this network. Unlike most networks, the Internet is not under a central control. From the beginning, this network, which was started by the US Department of Defense, has been designed to be very hard to shut down. The idea was to have a network that could have big chunks blown up without losing the whole network. It has many, many connections between the member networks and no one place controls the whole network. In fact, there is no one "in charge" of anything about the Internet except the assigning of addresses! It is amazing that thousands of people working all over the world can manage to create such a huge system that actually works.

The original purpose of the Internet was to enable people in different locations to share text-only documents. Now there is much more you can do using the Internet. You can send and receive email messages; you can search the world for particular files or for files that contain particular words; you can have a live conversation using typed text or voice or even video; you can read electronic magazines and newspapers; you can check on the weather forecast or the score of a ball game; you can play computer games with several people at once; you can post messages to newsgroups on a common topic; you can buy books, CDs, software, pizza, wine, or just about anything.

The Web

The Web is that part of the Internet that uses hypertext documents, also called Web documents or Web pages. Words in hypertext are generally underlined and in a special color, like this. They have an address attached to them so that clicking on the hypertext accesses the file at that address. The file can be one that is on the viewer's own computer (like C:\My Documents\letters\5-10-98 to mother.doc) or halfway around the world (like Such text is called a hypertext link, hyperlink, or just a link. Web pages have come a long way from the original plain text documents. Now they can show movies, play songs, and react to what the user clicks on in many imaginative ways.

It was only in 1989 that development began by CERN (the European Laboratory for Particle Physics) on the beginnings of what became the World Wide Web. The physicists wanted the ability to handle all Internet work though a single interface, to simplify the sharing of documents between their widely scattered sites. By 1992 the system was functioning well enough to publicize and invite others to move to the new approach. Very quickly numerous browsers were developed for a variety of operating systems. The Web soon became the most popular way to access the resources on the Internet.


Hypertext documents are written in HTML (HyperText Markup Language), a coding language that does much more than just create hyperlinks. HTML code puts special marks in a text document to tell browser software how to display the text. For example <FONT FACE="ARIAL" COLOR="#FF0000"> means to use the font Arial and the color red when displaying the text. The language's instructions are based on English. Each new version of the HTML standards adds more formatting choices and the ability to do other things like playing sounds and running animations.

HTML source code
HTML source code for a web page

One of the unique features of HTML documents is that the text wraps to the size of the window. In a word processor the text will wrap to the size of the paper page. So a web page can fit in a wide variety of window sizes, monitor sizes, and resolutions without making you scroll sideways across the page.

Most people like to point and click on a hyperlink better than to type long addresses. They like pictures better than plain text. This explains why the Web has rapidly become so popular.

Address of a Web page

Each web page has a unique address called a URL, or Universal Resource Locator, which tells where a file is located among all the computers that are part of the Internet. A URL usually has three parts: protocol://domain/path


Protocol:  The kind of coding to expect.
For web pages the address always starts with http:// which stands for hypertext transfer protocol. For a site that just downloads files you might use ftp:// which stands for file transfer protocol. There are other protocols that you are less likely to use.

Domain:  The unique name for the computer to which you are connecting.
All domain names have a 4-part number address like but most have a name using letters, too, like (which is much easier to remember!). A dot character always separates the parts of a name. The www stands for World Wide Web and is used for most web pages as the first part of the domain name. The com part stands for "commercial" and is one of several extensions allowed for the top level domain. Others include gov for government, edu for educational institution, org for organization, mil for military, and net for network. It is common in many countries to include the country identifier in the domain, such as .us for the United States, .fr for France, or .ar for Argentina. List of top level domainsIcon: link leads to another web site

Path: The list of folders on the computer, down to the actual file, like /windows/downloads/default.aspx  If no file name is listed at the end of the path, the browser will look for the default file, usually named index.html . If no such file is found, the browser will try to show a list of the files in the last folder in the path. It may need special permission or a password to show the list of files.

You can expect to see htm or html as the extension for most web pages. The extension asp or aspx (Active Server Page) is used for a page that uses special codes from Microsoft in addition to HTML. The extension shtml ( Secure HTML) is for pages that are encrypted because they involve sensitive information like credit card numbers.

WarningType carefully! The spelling and punctuation of an Internet address must be exactly right, including the use of upper case letters. Many servers that handle web pages use the operating system UNIX, for which myfile.htm, MyFile.htm, myfile.HTM are all different names. A forward slash / is not the same as a back slash \. A colon : and a semicolon ; are not the same. A comma , is not the same as . the dot character.

The Language of the Web

Did you notice that the address extensions are based on English, and the HTML code uses English terms? Many English terms and phrases have been adopted as the standard names for things having to do with the Internet, especially in HTML and in coding languages like JavaScript. It is another special area of learning. In ballet the terms are French. In music the terms are Italian. In computing most of the terms are English.

You can find more materials on the Web in English than in any other language. Major sites are rapidly building versions in the major languages of the world. But the primary language of the Internet is English and many sites are available only in English. The more English at your command, the more resources there will be that are available to you.