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Common Internet Terms

Some Common Internet Terms

Most people have heard of the internet: most likely you are already accessing this site via the internet! However, before we dive down into the mechanics of using it, let us define a few terms you will come across that are in common usage. This will give us a common frame of reference and help you to better communicate with people out there on the net:

Note: experienced web users should feel free to skip this chapter!

BroadbandThis is colloquially used to mean any high speed, non-dial-up, internet connection
BrowserSoftware used to access and display data from the internet
DomainThis is a subcomponent of a URL which identifies the site of host of a page. For example, our domain is (-note, it is always of the form: <something>.<something else>)
Dynamic PageA webpage that is created (-or updated) by the webserver when it is requested (cf: static page)
ftpThe File Transfer Protocol: this is used when transferring (unencrypted) files point to point
HTMLThe HyperText Markup Language: this is a way of combining text and command tags in a text file, to define how a webpage will be displayed
httpThe HyperText Transfer Protocol: this is the most common protocol used on the Web and is used for normal web pages which do not require any authentification
httpsThe HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure: this is used for pages where authentification is required (-e.g. inputting passwords, credit card details, etc). Also referred to as SSL (-the Secure Socket Layer)
HyperlinkSome text or an image that, when clicked, takes you to a different page. Traditionally, textual hyperlinks are listed as blue, underline text like this, but this can be overidden by each website
ProtocolThe internet uses different protocols to talk to machines connected to the internet, depending on what's being requested; the main ones to look out for are http, https and ftp
Search EngineA site that allows you to quickly locate relevant pages across the Web
sftpThe SOXified File Transfer Protocol: this is used when transferring (encrypted) files point to point: in use, it looks identical to ftp
SurfingThe act of spending time on the internet - normally looking for something
Static PageA webpage that is stored as a text file on the webserver and just retrieved when requested (cf: dynamic page)
URIUniform Resource Indicator: this is the unique ID of a resource on the internet (-a URL is one type of URI)
URLUniform Resource Locator: this is the unique address of a page or file on the Web
WebShortened form of Worldwide Web: technically, the web refers to something different to the internet (-i.e. the HTML graphical layer on top of the internet), but these days most people use both terms interchangeably
Web BrowserSame as a Browser
WebserverThe computer that stores and serves up the webpage


Each page on the web has it's own, unique, address - known as it's URL (Uniform Resource Locator). To illustrate this, the URL is this page is (-currently at least) "" -and we will be using this as our example. Each URL is made up of several sub-components - the main ones are listed below:

ProtocolThe protocol used to talk to the webserver hosting this pagehttp:
DelimiterA string constant separating the protocol from the domain//
DomainThe dot separated address uniquely identifying the webserver hosting this
DelimiterA string constant separating the domain from the path/
PathThe path to the location on the webserver where this page resides. In our example, the page is called "webIntro.php" and it resides in a subdirectory called "Desktop", so just the path to the page (-relative to the top level "web root" directory)Desktop/webIntro.php

So, in theory, if you want to display a particular page on the web you need to know it's URL and type it directly into a Browser. However, normally people use a combination of Search Engines and Hyperlinks (-see below) to navigate between pages.

Using Hyperlinks

The HTML language that defines web pages, allows the page designer to designate some text or an image that, when clicked, automatically takes the user to a different page. Traditionally, textual hyperlinks are listed in blue, underline text like this, but this can be overridden by each website using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets).

If you hover your mouse over a hyperlink, the cursor will change (-normally to a "pointing finger" icon) and the URL that the hyperlink points to is normally displayed in the status line at the bottom of the browser. Here's what it looks like in the Firefox browser:

Hyperlink Example Panel

In this way the user can navigate to a new page without knowing or typing in it's URL (-effectively, the page supplies it on behalf of the user).

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