How Does a Web Browser Work

How does a Web browser work? A Web browser is basically a graphical interface for the Web, allowing you to read pages and use interactive content, such as games, music and videos.

What Is a Web Browser?
Web browsers are software programs that read and interpret the code written on Web pages to create a nice visual display. The Web itself is a bunch of data, including raw HTML, CSS and other types of code. Without a Web browser, you'd be hard-pressed to find the specific information you're seeking on the Web. Even if you found it, it would look like a bunch of gobbledygook.

But that's only the most basic description of what a Web browser is. For a detailed look at how a Web browser works, you have to understand the Web and how your computer connects to remote locations.

What's in a Name?
To view pages on the Web, you typically type a Web address into your browser, also known as a Uniform Resource Locator, or URL. The Web address is made up of a couple of different components: the protocol, and the server address. The http that comes at the beginning of most Web addresses actually denotes a protocol; it's a way to tell your browser that you're looking for a Web site. With some browsers, you can also type an ftp address or a mailto address in your browser. When learning how does a Web browser work, you'll learn that the Web browser understands the difference in protocol and interprets the following characters properly.

After the protocol comes the server address. In most cases, the server address is a name that you type into your Web browser, which the destination server knows to convert to an IP address. Every Web server has a distinctive IP address, and that's how your Web browser locates the content you're seeking. This process is formally titled the Domain Name System, and DNS servers tell your computer what IP address to use when you type in a specific Web address. The DNS/IP resolution system is the reason that it may take up to 72 hours for a new domain to point to a Web site correctly; the IP information must filter through the DNS servers.

How Does a Web Browser Work Converting Code to Pages
After you've typed in an address and your Web browser has found the correct IP and connected with your data, the Web browser reads the site code. HTML, CSS, Flash and Java are all different types of code that your Web page browser interprets to give you a specific display. If you're ever curious what a Web page actually looks like, go to the View menu on your Web browser and select the Page Source option. Your Web browser interprets all that code to show you the page that you see.

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