World Wide Web System Concepts and Components
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Web Hardware and Software
These three main components are supplemented by a number of other elements that play supporting roles in rounding out the system as a whole. Chief among these are the hardware and software used to implement client/server communication that makes the Web work: Web servers and Web browsers.
Web servers are computers that run special server software to allow them to provide hypertext documents and other files to clients who request them. Millions of such machines around the world now serve as a virtual, distributed repository of the enormous wealth of information that the Web represents.
Web browsers are HTTP client software programs that run on TCP/IP client computers to access Web documents on Web servers. These browser programs retrieve hypertext documents and display them, and also implement many of the Web's advanced features, such as caching. Today's browsers support a wide variety of media, allowing the Web to implement many different functions aside from simply hypertext document transfer. Examples include displaying images, playing sounds and implementing interactive programs.
Last but certainly not least, it is the users of the Web that are perhaps its most important component. This is sort of cheating, as this is in some ways like defining the Internet as being part of the Web. At the same time, I feel that user involvement has had more of a role in shaping the development of Web technology than any other networking application. The Web began as a simple means of exchanging documents; today it has grown to encompass thousands of different applications and services, largely as a result of the creativity of users. Content providers have pushed the boundaries of what the Web can do by creating new ideas for information and services, to satisfy the insatiable demands of the end user community.
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Version 3.0 - Version Date: September 20, 2005
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