What Happens When You Access a Web Page on the Worldwide Web?

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    The Web Page

    • Millions of people use the Internet every day, but how many of us take the time to think about how it works? Even those who have their own web pages often have little concept of what happens when a person accesses that web page--not what happens on the surface, but what happens a little below the surface.

      A web page is essentially a text file. However, rather than just using simple text (as the World Wide Web did in its earliest days), HTML codes are used so the text is displayed a certain way on Web browsers. This universal code ensures that Web pages are--more or less--seen the same way regardless of your computer or platform. HTML is the "English" or "German" of the Web. It's the language of the Internet.

    What's Behind The Curtain

    • Anytime you look at a web page on the Internet, there are things going on behind the scenes, hidden from view. However, most browsers allow you to look behind the curtain. If you've seen "The Matrix," think of it in terms of how Neo could see the green numbers and codes making up the scenery. In order to see the web page like Neo sees the world, all you have to do is right-click on the page and click on "View Source." A new window will appear, and this is the Internet as it really looks--kind of like the blueprint of a home. This code you see is how the page was constructed and is essentially the information it's feeding your browser, determining how the page looks to you.

    What Happens?

    • When you go to a web page, the browser you're using--whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox or another--quickly reads the HTML on the web page and determines how the page should look. On the communication side of things, your IP asks the host server for information. The server (or host of servers) sends back information in packets. This information travels from server to server, finally to your host IP and then to your modem. When the information is received, it can then be displayed on your computer. Depending on the speed of your connection, this process can take as little as a second to complete.

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