Web browser

Definition of Web browser in The Network Encyclopedia.

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What is Web browser?

Web browser is an application that supports the client side of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), the Internet protocol for the World Wide Web (WWW). You can use a Web browser, also called a “browser,” to access (browse) content published on a Web server. This content can be static, meaning it consists of ASCII text files formatted using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), or the content can be dynamic, meaning it is generated on demand using client-side or server-side scripting in languages such as JavaScript or Microsoft Visual Basic, Scripting Edition (VBScript). Web browsers typically offer additional features to make browsing the Web easier and more profitable.

These features include the following:

  • Toolbar buttons for navigating forward and backward through the tree of previously displayed pages, for stopping the download process, and for manually refreshing a page that loaded incompletely.
  • Lists of favourites or bookmarks that store Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) of frequently accessed sites as well as tools for organizing and accessing those URLs.
  • Options for specifying a default home page from which to begin browsing, a default search engine for searching the Web, and other default browsing options.
  • Security options for handling such concerns as whether to allow scripts, ActiveX components, or Java applets to run on the browser.
  • Facilities for displaying the underlying source code or HTML of a page, and even for editing and publishing Web content.
  • Integration with other Internet software such as mail, news, or chat applications. Some Web browsers are packaged as stand-alone applications, while others are part of an overall suite of Internet tools that are integrated at various levels.

The first graphical Web browser was developed in 1993 by a group of students headed by Marc Andreessen at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). This browser was known as Mosaic and was distributed free. In 1994, Andreessen left NCSA to help found Netscape Communications, which developed the Netscape Navigator browser. The popularity of this browser helped foster the explosive growth of the Internet in the mid-1990s. Microsoft soon entered the arena with its Internet Explorer browser, which has become the most widely used browser on the market. Starting with Windows 95, Microsoft began closely integrating Internet Explorer into its Windows operating systems, with the result that users running Windows can access Internet resources as easily as files on their own hard drives.

Web References