Each lesson in this book contains a workshop to help you review the topics you learned. The first section of this workshop lists some common questions about the Web. Next, you'll answer some questions that I'll ask you about the Web. The answers to the quiz appear in the next section. At the end of each lesson, you'll find some exercises that will help you retain the information you learned about the Web.
Who runs the Web? Who controls all these protocols? Who's in charge of all this?
No single entity owns or controls the World Wide Web. Given the enormous number of independent sites that supply information to the Web, for any single organization to set rules or guidelines would be impossible. Two groups of organizations, however, have a great influence over the look and feel and direction of the Web itself.
The first is the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States and INRIA in Europe. The W3C is made up of individuals and organizations interested in supporting and defining the languages and protocols that make up the Web (HTTP, HTML, XHTML, and so on). It also provides products (browsers, servers, and so on) that are freely available to anyone who wants to use them. The W3 Consortium is the closest anyone gets to setting the standards for and enforcing rules about the World Wide Web. You can visit the Consortium's home page at http://www.w3.org/.
The second group of organizations that influences the Web is the browser developers themselves, most notably Microsoft and the Mozilla Foundation. The competition to be the most popular and technically advanced browser on the Web can be fierce. Although both organizations claim to support and adhere to the guidelines proposed by the W3C, both also include their own new features in new versions of their softwarefeatures that sometimes conflict with each other and with the work the W3C is doing.
Things still change pretty rapidly on the Web, although not as rapidly as they did in the height of the so-called browser wars. The popular browsers are finally converging to support many of the standards defined by the W3C, so writing to those standards will work most of the time. I'll talk about the exceptions throughout this book.
I've heard that the Web changes so fast that it's almost impossible to stay current. Is this book doomed to be out of date the day it's published?
What's a URL?
What's required to publish documents on the Web?
A URL, or uniform resource locator, is an address that points to a specific document or bit of information on the Internet.
You need access to a web server. Web servers, which are programs that serve up documents over the Web, reply to web browser requests for files and send the requested pages to many different types of browsers. They also manage form input and handle database integration.
Try navigating to each of the different types of URLs mentioned today (http:, ftp:, and news:). Some links you might want to try are http://www.tywebpub.com, ftp://ftp.cdrom.com, and news:comp.infosystems.www.
Download a different browser than the one you ordinarily use and try it out for a while. If you're using Internet Explorer, try out Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, or even a command-line browser such as Lynx or Links. To really see how things have changed and how some users who don't upgrade their browser experience the Web, download an old browser from http://browsers.evolt.org/ and try it out.