A Web Browser is a software application which helps us to explore any website on the internet. Any website is made up of various web pages and different kinds of files. A browser, such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc., help in putting together these web files and presenting nicely in front of us, so that we understand everything.
It is your one-stop solution for viewing any content on the internet. You cannot imagine the internet without a web browser.
To be more precise, web pages are made up of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML).
A browser converts the coded content on the web pages into human-readable content, primarily by using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
Moving ahead in this article we will understand how a web browser works, its history, most popular browsers, etc.
History of web browser
Internet was booming with the beginning of the early 1990s. WorldWideWeb was the first web browser which was invented in the year 1990 by Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Later in the year 1993, a more graphical oriented web browser called Mosaic launched. This browser soon became one of the most popular browsers of that time.
Soon, Netscape Navigator, a popular browser was developed in 1994 by Marc Andreessen, who was also the core developer of Mosaic. This browser belonged to a company Netscape.
Microsoft too joined the bandwagon and released a web browser named Internet Explorer in the year 1995. Internet Explorer surpassed Netscape Navigator quickly since it was built for one of the most popular operating system i.e. Windows and moreover, it was a freeware.
Internet Explorer enjoyed the dominance for almost a decade before Mozilla Firefox launched in the year 2004. In between, Apple Inc. released Safari in 2003. But the browser was more focused on Apple platforms.
I would say the major breakthrough in the browser war came in 2008 when Google Chrome was launched. It was a milestone in the race of different browsers. To this date, Chrome is the most popular browser used across the world.
How does a Web Browser work?
Whenever you put the URL (Uniform Resource Locator) of a website in the web browser and hit enter, a two-way process happens. The URL is nothing but a domain name of the web server which also contains its address.
The web browser reaches out the web server with the request and fetches the code which is generally written in the HTML Language. It interprets the code and then converts it into a web page for you.
The first part of the URL could be either http:// or https://. HTTP is a benchmark protocol and additional ‘s’ stands for security, which denotes the encryption of the network or channel.
Since the browser now has understood the protocol, it can easily infer about the information present on the right of the forward slash, which is the domain name.
Now, suppose the site is www.stemjar.com. This is the domain name which informs the web browser about the location of the web server.
From this web server, the file is collected in the form of web pages or files. Nowadays, most browsers can work without a need for the HTTP protocol.
Once the browser locates the web server, it can easily access it, convert it and display it for you to view. All of the above happens in an instant, generally in a few seconds.
What are the different components of a web browser?
A web browser has different components and each of them serves a unique purpose.
Web Address (URL)
As mentioned above, the Web address, in a nutshell, is the location of the server which hosts the website. For visiting a site, you merely have to enter its web address in the address bar of the browser.
On most of the websites, you will see text links which are underlined or which look different from the rest of the text. These are hyperlinks.
They usually take you either to a separate webpage or a different section on the same webpage. You can tell if a particular link is an active link or not by dragging your cursor over to the link. If your cursor changes its appearance in some shape or form, the link is an active one.
Back, Forward and Reload
There are three hugely useful buttons on the top left of your browser window. The arrow which is pointing left will take you back to the previous web page.
Similarly, if you click on the right arrow, it will take you to the forward web page. If you want to reload the current web page entirely, then you click on the circular arrow.
Favorites or Bookmark
When you visit a specific web page many times, you wish that you wouldn’t need to enter the web address every single time. The favorite or the bookmark options in the web browser provide the perfect solution.
When you bookmark a webpage, the web browser automatically stores the web address of the page. So, the next time you want to visit the web page, all you need to do is open the bookmarks library and click on the web address of the web page.
The web browser also allows you to select your homepage. A homepage is the first page that is displayed when you open a Web Browser.
Moreover, your web browser records every web page you visit in its History section. This is particularly useful if you want to revisit a web page you visited several days ago.
Which web browsers are popular today?
Popular web browsers known around the world are –