What is the web

Web term explanation and definition

The term World Wide Web is also referred to as the Web for short and comes from the English vocabulary. In its translation it simply means worldwide network. This is a system that is set up with the help of the Internet and consists of electronic hypertext documents. These documents are linked to one another by hyperlinks and are transmitted using the HTTP or HTTPS protocols.
In order to be able to use the web, you need a so-called web browser. This has the task of fetching data from a web server and making it visible on a screen, for example. By linking the hyperlinks with one another, the user can follow them from document to document, regardless of whether these documents are stored on different servers or only on one. This linking ultimately results in a worldwide network of websites. Following these hyperlinks is known as surfing.
In common parlance, the World Wide Web is synonymous with the Internet, even though the Internet was available earlier. Furthermore, the World Wide Web is only part of what the Internet is. Services such as e-mail services are not integrated in the World Wide Web.


The web was first developed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee as part of a project by the Swiss research facility CERN. At that time he was working on a hypertext system. Robert Cailliau from Belgium was involved in this design. The aim of this project was to exchange research results between colleagues in a simple way. The interweaving of several articles for this purpose, i.e. the tensioning of a net, was a method envisaged for this.
This project was based on previous achievements such as Ted Nelson's Xanadu project.
However, today's World Wide Web differs from the hypertext systems of that time. The web only needs unidirectional links and no bidirectional links, which enables the system to store a specific link to a resource without the intervention of the owner of this resource being necessary for this action. Furthermore, the web was built to be based on free protocols. This structure made it possible to develop servers and clients in one framework without having to take into account licenses or restrictions. The first public mention of the web was made by Tim Berners-Lee in 1991 when he published a post and made it available to the world.
The first viewer was more of a browser-editor hybrid. Its inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, simply called it the World Wide Web. This program was developed by Berners-Lee in autumn 1990 on a NeXT computer (NeXT computers came from Steve Jobs, the former Apple founder and also NeXT founder). So that this program could not be confused with the later emerging World Wide Web, Berners-Lee renamed this program Nexus. Originally only texts could be displayed with this program. However, in the years that followed, several providers created the option of displaying graphics. The web owes its rapid development and popularity to the Mosaic for X browser, released in 1993. Modern browsers nowadays have additional features, including music, dynamic content, videos and animations, in order to be able to play them.


The first project draft by Berners-Lee from 1989 still refers to the web as mesh. but since this name was too similar to the word mess (disorder), this name was quickly abandoned. Further suggestions for names could not be convincing either. After a while, Berners-Lee set the World Wide Web or Web as the name. This happened despite the comments of his colleagues that the combination of three W in the two world languages ​​English and French could hardly be pronounced. Berners-Lee was convinced of the name, however, as this combination would form a network that could be used to connect to anyone and anything via knots.


The web is based on three standards. These standards are HTTP as the protocol, information can be retrieved from a web server with the help of the browser, HTML as the document description language, which determines how information is structured and how this information is linked to one another, and URLs, which provide a clear description of a specific resource used in the hyperlinks.
Over time, other standards were added such as CSS, HTTPS or DOM, to name just a few as examples.
On the other hand, the most widely used and well-known script and macro language of web browsers is not defined as a standard: JavaScript. This is a scripting language that gives instructions to a browser on how programs can be integrated into the respective browser. This embedding makes it possible to change websites dynamically. The standards used on the web usually come from the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) or from other organizations such as the ECMA, the Engineering Task Force or manufacturers such as Sun Microsystems.
In its previous history and also in the further development of the WWW, it has been and is constantly being supplemented by other technologies. Images were already used in the early stages of development to clarify illustrations. The predominant formats of this technology are JPEG, GIF and PNG.
There is also the option of displaying many other file types. This requires a browser extension, the so-called plugins. With these plugins you are able to display multimedia content and animations. But it can also be used to display entire applications.
Popular browser formats are also the Flash player, which can be used to display interactive content, and PDF for displaying PDF.

Dynamic websites and web applications

Dynamic websites offer the possibility of serving as a surface for distributed programs. The respective program is not started on the actual computer, but is executed by the web browser. The advantage of these programs is that administrative activities no longer have to be carried out individually on each computer but can be managed centrally. A dynamic web application is executed either directly in the browser or on the web server.
Execution of web applications on the web server: Here the content is generated by the script language or by compiled applications in applications for the web and sent to the browser electronically.
Clients on which dynamic websites are pending: Here the content is either created by the browser or changed with the help of JavaScript.
Mixed version: With the mixed version, the browser creates and transmits a query via JavaScript, the so-called request, which is processed by the web server and thus creates components of this HTML structure in a dynamic way.
However, it is a disadvantage here that WWW pages are limited in their ability to express themselves. Programs that are available in the form of Internet pages can generally not be operated as easily and uncomplicated as conventional programs. However, through Rich Internet Applications one tries to reconcile these two things.

Compatibility - Accessibility

In the past, browser manufacturers did not pay attention to standardization when introducing new products. In return, however, some parts of standards are still not implemented correctly. This results in incompatibilities between individual browsers and certain websites. This behavior can be observed again and again, especially with Microsoft and their new products.

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