Anatomy of the WWW

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The World Wide Web

The World Wide Web is a network of interconnected documents, accessed via the Internet. Although the terms ‘web’ and ‘Internet’ are often used interchangeably, the web is just one service that sits on top of the Internet, a global system of interconnected computer networks that also powers email, VoiP, peer-to-peer file-sharing and many other types of communication.

As a user, our point of access to this network is the web browser. Browsers can be created for almost any computer or connected device, making the web a truly open medium for communication. When we visit a particular address or follow a link, our web browser is sending a request to a web server. Web servers are just computers that host web content, and deliver it over the World Wide Web. If our request is successful, the web server will send back a collection of HTML, CSS and JavaScript code. Our web browser is able to understand these languages, and converts the code into a graphical interface.

Recent technical developments have extended the power of web technologies, introducing video, audio, and access to device hardware through its operating system (e.g. geolocation, camera, local storage). This has allowed for the creation of feature-rich web applications. These 'web apps' offer an alternative to the proprietary apps available in the disconnected app stores of individual smartphone manufacturers.

The difference between a website and a web app is not clear-cut: many people regard a web app as something that performs specific tasks or behaviours, while websites simply contain information. In any case, both are built with the same fundamental technologies and can be run on any device with a web browser.

Along with technological advances, the web has matured as a platform in recent years. Countless libraries and frameworks have made it simpler for web developers to tap into complex functionality, while there has been a move towards companies opening up their data and services via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces). All of this has made the web a vastly more powerful, exciting and dynamic place to have your voice heard.

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