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Despite the prevelance of Internet usage these days, confusion still abounds about Web Browsers, what they do and why we need them.

"Probably the very first website anyone should visit!"

What is a Web Browser?

A web browser is a computer program that allows you to access and "browse" the world wide web.

You are using a web browser to access and read this webpage right now. You see the website address at the top of your screen? Is will say "http://whatisabrowser.info" or maybe just "whatisabrowser.info", this is the address bar.

This address indicates a specific address on the world wide web in just the same way that your home or work address indicates your home or work location.

By simply typing an address and either clicking "Go" or hitting enter you can visit that location (website address) and read and interact with the website at that address.

The technical term for this address is a URI which stands for Universal Resource Indentifier, sometimes you will also hear the term URL (Universal Resource Location), which is subtley different but for day to day use you don't need to worry about the differences.

When someone talks about a "web address", "website address", "website location", "URI" or "URL" you can safely assume that they mean this address. If someone says to you "Please visit www.heresalink.com" then they mean; Please type "www.heresalink.com" into the address bar at the top of your browser and hit enter to visit that webpage.

Why do I need a Web Browser?

Technically you don't; there are many ways to retrieve data (such as webpages) from the internet, however a web browser is specifically designed to fetch and display webpages in a simple and convienient way.

This means that a web browser is the ideal tool for browsing the world wide web, for reading information, looking at pictures, videos or downloading documents quickly and easily.

We should be clear about a definition here: The World Wide Web (WWW or sometimes W3) is a specific part of the Internet as a whole. The WWW is organised by means of linked webpages, images and documents. The Internet is the infrastructure on which the WWW runs.

Your web browser understands the web addresses and how to fetch the correct webpage that is related to that address.

When you click a link on a webpage, your browser looks up the new address and fetches the new page.

How does it all work?

The way this works is very simple at it's heart. Simply put; whoever creates a website will create it in such a way that your web browser can understand the layout (the colours, where to put the graphics and images and text), and so your web browser can show you the website in the way that the creater of that website intended.

Lets put is another way: A web browser is your window onto the WWW.

Your browser will look up the address that you type in the address bar, it will fetch the associated webpage and it will display it to you by following a set of predefined instructions.

These instructions are written using HTML.

HTML?

HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. HTML is what is used to construct webpages.

HTML consists of tags, these tags can be considered to be the building blocks of web pages.

A webpage creator may put a "title" tag in his webpage design, when your web browser sees this "title" tag, your web browser will react by placing a title at the top of the page.

Likewise the webpage creator (or designer) may use an "image" tag, which will tell your web browser to display an image, the designer may also use tags top place that image in a specific location on the webpage. In this way a complete webpage or website can be built up.

Summary

Not so confusing is it? :)