What is the World Wide Web and HTTP Protocol?

We are living in the modern era of the internet. We now have access to services like WhatsApp, Facebook and Gmail to share images, videos, and other information. But back in 1975, the time when the internet started growing, communication was just text based and it is pretty boring to look at. It stayed like that until the mid-1980s. 

In 1980, CERN, A European organization started working on Nuclear Research Project where Physicists are trying to figure out what our universe is made of.

As scientists started working on experiments, they needed an easy way to connect with each other and share their work to achieve progress. 

To solve this problem, Timothy Berners-Lee built a Browser for scientists to write and submit their digital research papers. He invented Uniform Resource Locator (URL) to locate and access individual research papers. He invented HTML to improve the readability of research papers. 

He named his browser “World Wide Web”. He named individual research paper as a web page and finally he called the collection of research papers as a Website. 

So, technically, a website is nothing but a collection of related web pages stored in a single folder. And this single folder( Website ) is kept on a publicly accessible computer called “Web Server”. You will learn more web servers in the next lesson.

The word web has a special meaning. Just like a spider web, the HTML has the ability to link one research paper to many others. 

Once the Telephone companies heard about the World Wide Web, they saw a huge commercial potential and brought it to the common people. By following the huge success of the World Wide Web, HTML evolved to support media like audio, video, and presentations.    

World Wide Web is no longer a simple browser. As the time evolved, the World Wide Web is now defined as “Collection of all the Web pages in the World”. 

Let me make this very clear. The Internet and The World Wide Web are two entirely different things. World Wide Web is just one of many things that depend on the Internet to exchange information. It is a part of the Internet. For example, having a video chat with your friend on Skype has nothing to do with the World Wide Web. 

Alright that a bit vague. Maybe an introduction to protocols of the internet can give you a better idea.

For starters, A protocol is nothing but a set of rules. These rules define the way we exchange information between two computers. 

According to MDN, computers that are exchanging the information must agree on the format of the information. The set of rules that defines a format is called a protocol.

And, at the core level, TCP/IP Protocol is the base communication language of the Internet. TCP /IP protocol defines how two internet connected computers should exchange information. 

Now that you understand the role of a protocol, Let’s take a look at some protocols that we might have to deal with from now on!

World Wide Web – HTTP Protocol

World Wide Web runs on HTTP protocol. The web browser uses HTTP protocol to send messages to the Web server so that it can fetch resources like web pages, video, audio from the Web Server. 

HTTPS Protocol

If a browser is communicating with a web server on HTTP protocol, the information being exchanged is not safe. Any hacker with decent experience could easily read all the information that is being exchanged. 

However, With HTTP Secure Protocol ( HTTPS ), the information being exchanged between the browser and the web server is encrypted so that no middleman like hackers cannot read the information. 

If you notice, whenever you visit an online shopping website like Amazon, you will see HTTPS instead of HTTP in the URL. Since shopping websites take your credit card and financial information, they take help HTTPS to send that payment information to the Web Server for processing your payment. 

HTTPS is a combination of HTTP and Secure Socket Layer(SSL) working together. SSL is a technology that is responsible for encrypting the information that is being exchanged between the browser and the server.  Since HTTPS means trust, Search engines like Google trust your website and boost your web page rank in search results if your web page has SSL certificate installed. 

In the future chapters, you’ll also learn how to install an SSL certificate for your website.

Simple Mail Transfer Protocol aka SMTP

SMTP is responsible for sending and receiving emails. You’ll learn more about Email Servers and SMTP while setting up email functionality to your website.

File Transfer Protocol aka FTP

As you start dealing with a website on a daily basis, you might have to upload files to your web server. Tools like FileZilla are made just for that purpose, and They use File Transfer Protocol for transferring files to or from your computer.    

In the next lesson, You’ll learn about the web server.

Peer-to-Peer Internet telephony protocol

Similarly, Skype uses peer-to-peer Internet telephony protocol to send your voice over to your best friend forever ๐Ÿ˜›