World Wide Web

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World Wide Web
The historic World Wide Web logo, designed by Robert Cailliau. Currently, there is no widely accepted logo in use for the WWW.
Year started1989; 35 years ago (1989)  by Tim Berners-Lee
A web page from Wikipedia displayed in Google Chrome

The World Wide Web (WWW or simply the Web) is an

content sharing over the Internet through user-friendly ways meant to appeal to users beyond IT specialists and hobbyists.[1] It allows documents and other web resources to be accessed over the Internet according to specific rules of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).[2]

The Web was invented by English computer scientist

uniform resource locators

The original and still very common document type is a

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This markup language supports plain text, images, embedded video and audio contents, and scripts (short programs) that implement complex user interaction. The HTML language also supports hyperlinks (embedded URLs) which provide immediate access to other web resources. Web navigation, or web surfing, is the common practice of following such hyperlinks across multiple websites. Web applications are web pages that function as application software. The information in the Web is transferred across the Internet using HTTP. Multiple web resources with a common theme and usually a common domain name make up a website. A single web server may provide multiple websites, while some websites, especially the most popular ones, may be provided by multiple servers. Website content is provided by a myriad of companies, organizations, government agencies, and individual users
; and comprises an enormous amount of educational, entertainment, commercial, and government information.

The Web has become the world's dominant information systems platform.[5][6][7][8] It is the primary tool that billions of people worldwide use to interact with the Internet.[2]


Sir Tim Berners-Lee at CERN and became the world's first Web server

The Web was invented by English computer scientist

tree structure approach, used for instance in the existing CERNDOC documentation system and in the Unix filesystem, as well as approaches that relied in tagging files with keywords, as in the VAX/NOTES system. Instead he adopted concepts he had put into practice with his private ENQUIRE system (1980) built at CERN. When he became aware of Ted Nelson's hypertext model (1965), in which documents can be linked in unconstrained ways through hyperlinks associated with "hot spots" embedded in the text, it helped to confirm the validity of his concept.[11][12]

The model was later popularized by

Apple's HyperCard system. Unlike Hypercard, Berners-Lee's new system from the outset was meant to support links between multiple databases on independent computers, and to allow simultaneous access by many users from any computer on the Internet. He also specified that the system should eventually handle other media besides text, such as graphics, speech, and video. Links could refer to mutable data files, or even fire up programs on their server computer. He also conceived "gateways" that would allow access through the new system to documents organized in other ways (such as traditional computer file systems or the Usenet). Finally, he insisted that the system should be decentralized, without any central control or coordination over the creation of links.[3][13][9][10]

Berners-Lee submitted a proposal to CERN in May 1989, without giving the system a name.[3] He got a working system implemented by the end of 1990, including a browser called WorldWideWeb (which became the name of the project and of the network) and an HTTP server running at CERN. As part of that development he defined the first version of the HTTP protocol, the basic URL syntax, and implicitly made HTML the primary document format.[14] The technology was released outside CERN to other research institutions starting in January 1991, and then to the whole Internet on 23 August 1991. The Web was a success at CERN, and began to spread to other scientific and academic institutions. Within the next two years, there were 50 websites created.[15][16]

CERN made the Web protocol and code available royalty free in 1993, enabling its widespread use.

forms that were processed by the HTTPd server.[21][22] Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark founded Netscape the following year and released the Navigator browser, which introduced Java and JavaScript to the Web. It quickly became the dominant browser. Netscape became a public company in 1995 which triggered a frenzy for the Web and started the dot-com bubble.[23] Microsoft responded by developing its own browser, Internet Explorer, starting the browser wars. By bundling it with Windows, it became the dominant browser for 14 years.[24]

Berners-Lee founded the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) which created XML in 1996 and recommended replacing HTML with stricter XHTML.[25] In the meantime, developers began exploiting an IE feature called XMLHttpRequest to make Ajax applications and launched the Web 2.0 revolution. Mozilla, Opera, and Apple rejected XHTML and created the WHATWG which developed HTML5.[26] In 2009, the W3C conceded and abandoned XHTML.[27] In 2019, it ceded control of the HTML specification to the WHATWG.[28]

The World Wide Web has been central to the development of the Information Age and is the primary tool billions of people use to interact on the Internet.[29][30][31][8]


Tim Berners-Lee states that World Wide Web is officially spelled as three separate words, each capitalised, with no intervening hyphens.[32] Nonetheless, it is often called simply the Web, and also often the web; see Capitalization of Internet for details. In Mandarin Chinese, World Wide Web is commonly translated via a phono-semantic matching to wàn wéi wǎng (万维网), which satisfies www and literally means "10,000-dimensional net", a translation that reflects the design concept and proliferation of the World Wide Web.

Use of the www prefix has been declining, especially when

mobile Web grew in popularity,[citation needed] services like,,, and are most often mentioned without adding "www." (or, indeed, ".com") to the domain.[33]

In English, www is usually read as double-u double-u double-u.[34] Some users pronounce it dub-dub-dub, particularly in New Zealand.[35] Stephen Fry, in his "Podgrams" series of podcasts, pronounces it wuh wuh wuh.[36] The English writer Douglas Adams once quipped in The Independent on Sunday (1999): "The World Wide Web is the only thing I know of whose shortened form takes three times longer to say than what it's short for".[37]


Mosaic web browser helped to make the web much more usable, to include the display of images and moving images (GIFs

The terms Internet and World Wide Web are often used without much distinction. However, the two terms do not mean the same thing. The Internet is a global system of computer networks interconnected through telecommunications and optical networking. In contrast, the World Wide Web is a global collection of documents and other resources, linked by hyperlinks and URIs. Web resources are accessed using HTTP or HTTPS, which are application-level Internet protocols that use the Internet's transport protocols.[2]

Viewing a

URL of the page into a web browser or by following a hyperlink to that page or resource. The web browser then initiates a series of background communication messages to fetch and display the requested page. In the 1990s, using a browser to view web pages—and to move from one web page to another through hyperlinks—came to be known as 'browsing,' 'web surfing' (after channel surfing), or 'navigating the Web'. Early studies of this new behaviour investigated user patterns in using web browsers. One study, for example, found five user patterns: exploratory surfing, window surfing, evolved surfing, bounded navigation and targeted navigation.[38]

The following example demonstrates the functioning of a web browser when accessing a page at the URL The browser resolves the server name of the URL ( into an

HTTP request across the Internet to the computer at that address. It requests service from a specific TCP port number that is well known for the HTTP service so that the receiving host can distinguish an HTTP request from other network protocols it may be servicing. HTTP normally uses port number 80 and for HTTPS it normally uses port number 443
. The content of the HTTP request can be as simple as two lines of text:

GET /home.html HTTP/1.1

The computer receiving the HTTP request delivers it to web server software listening for requests on port 80. If the webserver can fulfil the request it sends an HTTP response back to the browser indicating success:

HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

followed by the content of the requested page. Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) for a basic web page might look like this:

    <title> – The World Wide Web</title>
    <p>The World Wide Web, abbreviated as WWW and commonly known ...</p>

The web browser

Internet media types. As it receives their content from the web server, the browser progressively renders
the page onto the screen as specified by its HTML and these additional resources.


Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is the standard

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) and JavaScript, it forms a triad of cornerstone technologies for the World Wide Web.[39]

Web browsers receive HTML documents from a web server or from local storage and render the documents into multimedia web pages. HTML describes the structure of a web page semantically and originally included cues for the appearance of the document.

interactive forms may be embedded into the rendered page. HTML provides a means to create structured documents by denoting structural semantics for text such as headings, paragraphs, lists, links, quotes and other items. HTML elements are delineated by tags, written using angle brackets
. Tags such as <img /> and <input /> directly introduce content into the page. Other tags such as <p> surround and provide information about document text and may include other tags as sub-elements. Browsers do not display the HTML tags, but use them to interpret the content of the page.

HTML can embed programs written in a scripting language such as JavaScript, which affects the behaviour and content of web pages. Inclusion of CSS defines the look and layout of content. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), maintainer of both the HTML and the CSS standards, has encouraged the use of CSS over explicit presentational HTML since 1997.[40]


Most web pages contain hyperlinks to other related pages and perhaps to downloadable files, source documents, definitions and other web resources. In the underlying HTML, a hyperlink looks like this: <a href=""> Homepage</a>.

Graphic representation of a minute fraction of the WWW, demonstrating hyperlinks

Such a collection of useful, related resources, interconnected via hypertext links is dubbed a web of information. Publication on the Internet created what Tim Berners-Lee first called the WorldWideWeb (in its original

CamelCase, which was subsequently discarded) in November 1990.[41]

The hyperlink structure of the web is described by the webgraph: the nodes of the web graph correspond to the web pages (or URLs) the directed edges between them to the hyperlinks. Over time, many web resources pointed to by hyperlinks disappear, relocate, or are replaced with different content. This makes hyperlinks obsolete, a phenomenon referred to in some circles as link rot, and the hyperlinks affected by it are often called "dead" links. The ephemeral nature of the Web has prompted many efforts to archive websites. The Internet Archive, active since 1996, is the best known of such efforts.

WWW prefix

Many hostnames used for the World Wide Web begin with www because of the long-standing practice of naming

better source needed] Many established websites still use the prefix, or they employ other subdomain names such as www2, secure or en for special purposes. Many such web servers are set up so that both the main domain name (e.g., and the www subdomain (e.g., refer to the same site; others require one form or the other, or they may map to different web sites. The use of a subdomain name is useful for load balancing incoming web traffic by creating a CNAME record that points to a cluster of web servers. Since, currently[as of?], only a subdomain can be used in a CNAME, the same result cannot be achieved by using the bare domain root.[44][dubiousdiscuss

When a user submits an incomplete domain name to a web browser in its address bar input field, some web browsers automatically try adding the prefix "www" to the beginning of it and possibly ".com", ".org" and ".net" at the end, depending on what might be missing. For example, entering "microsoft" may be transformed to and "openoffice" to This feature started appearing in early versions of Firefox, when it still had the working title 'Firebird' in early 2003, from an earlier practice in browsers such as Lynx.[45] [unreliable source?] It is reported that Microsoft was granted a US patent for the same idea in 2008, but only for mobile devices.[46]

Scheme specifiers

The scheme specifiers http:// and https:// at the start of a web

HTTP Secure
, respectively. They specify the communication protocol to use for the request and response. The HTTP protocol is fundamental to the operation of the World Wide Web, and the added encryption layer in HTTPS is essential when browsers send or retrieve confidential data, such as passwords or banking information. Web browsers usually automatically prepend http:// to user-entered URIs, if omitted.


A screenshot of the home page of Wikimedia Commons

A web page (also written as webpage) is a document that is suitable for the World Wide Web and

monitor or mobile device

The term web page usually refers to what is visible, but may also refer to the contents of the

, and images, while presenting each web page.

On a network, a web browser can retrieve a web page from a remote

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) to make such requests to the web server

A static web page is delivered exactly as stored, as web content in the web server's file system. In contrast, a dynamic web page is generated by a web application, usually driven by server-side software. Dynamic web pages are used when each user may require completely different information, for example, bank websites, web email etc.

Static page

A static web page (sometimes called a flat page/stationary page) is a web page that is delivered to the user exactly as stored, in contrast to dynamic web pages which are generated by a web application.

Consequently, a static web page displays the same information for all users, from all contexts, subject to modern capabilities of a

or language of the document where such versions are available and the server is configured to do so.

Dynamic pages

Dynamic web page: example of server-side scripting (PHP and MySQL)

A server-side dynamic web page is a web page whose construction is controlled by an application server processing server-side scripts. In server-side scripting, parameters determine how the assembly of every new web page proceeds, including the setting up of more client-side processing.

A client-side dynamic web page processes the web page using JavaScript running in the browser. JavaScript programs can interact with the document via Document Object Model, or DOM, to query page state and alter it. The same client-side techniques can then dynamically update or change the DOM in the same way.

A dynamic web page is then reloaded by the user or by a computer program to change some variable content. The updating information could come from the server, or from changes made to that page's DOM. This may or may not truncate the browsing history or create a saved version to go back to, but a dynamic web page update using Ajax technologies will neither create a page to go back to nor truncate the web browsing history forward of the displayed page. Using Ajax technologies the end user gets one dynamic page managed as a single page in the web browser while the actual web content rendered on that page can vary. The Ajax engine sits only on the browser requesting parts of its DOM, the DOM, for its client, from an application server.

Dynamic HTML, or DHTML, is the umbrella term for technologies and methods used to create web pages that are not static web pages, though it has fallen out of common use since the popularization of AJAX, a term which is now itself rarely used.[citation needed] Client-side-scripting, server-side scripting, or a combination of these make for the dynamic web experience in a browser.

Client-side script is delivered with the page that can make additional HTTP requests to the server, either in response to user actions such as mouse movements or clicks, or based on elapsed time. The server's responses are used to modify the current page rather than creating a new page with each response, so the server needs only to provide limited, incremental information. Multiple Ajax requests can be handled at the same time, and users can interact with the page while data is retrieved. Web pages may also regularly poll the server to check whether new information is available.[48]


The website

A website[49] is a collection of related web resources including web pages, multimedia content, typically identified with a common domain name, and published on at least one web server. Notable examples are,, and

A website may be accessible via a public Internet Protocol (IP) network, such as the Internet, or a private local area network (LAN), by referencing a uniform resource locator (URL) that identifies the site.

Websites can have many functions and can be used in various fashions; a website can be a

social networking to providing news and education. All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web, while private websites, such as a company's website for its employees, are typically a part of an intranet

Web pages, which are the building blocks of websites, are

HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user. The user's application, often a web browser, renders the page content according to its HTML markup instructions onto a display terminal

social networking websites, websites providing real-time price quotations for different types of markets, as well as sites providing various other services. End users can access websites on a range of devices, including desktop and laptop computers, tablet computers, smartphones and smart TVs


A web browser (commonly referred to as a browser) is a

software user agent for accessing information on the World Wide Web. To connect to a website's server
and display its pages, a user needs to have a web browser program. This is the program that the user runs to download, format, and display a web page on the user's computer.

In addition to allowing users to find, display, and move between web pages, a web browser will usually have features like keeping bookmarks, recording history, managing cookies (see below), and home pages and may have facilities for recording passwords for logging into web sites.

The most popular browsers are Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Edge.


rack mounting

A Web server is

and several other related protocols.

The primary function of a web server is to store, process and deliver

Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Pages delivered are most frequently HTML documents, which may include images, style sheets and scripts
in addition to the text content.

Multiple web servers may be used for a high traffic website; here, Dell servers are installed together to be used for the Wikimedia Foundation.


secondary storage, but this is not necessarily the case and depends on how the webserver is implemented

While the primary function is to serve content, full implementation of HTTP also includes ways of receiving content from clients. This feature is used for submitting

web forms, including uploading
of files.

Many generic web servers also support

dynamic content

Web servers can also frequently be found embedded in devices such as printers, routers, webcams and serving only a local network. The web server may then be used as a part of a system for monitoring or administering the device in question. This usually means that no additional software has to be installed on the client computer since only a web browser is required (which now is included with most operating systems).


An HTTP cookie (also called web cookie, Internet cookie, browser cookie, or simply cookie) is a small piece of data sent from a website and stored on the user's computer by the user's

stateful information (such as items added in the shopping cart in an online store) or to record the user's browsing activity (including clicking particular buttons, logging in
, or recording which pages were visited in the past). They can also be used to remember arbitrary pieces of information that the user previously entered into form fields such as names, addresses, passwords, and credit card numbers.

Cookies perform essential functions in the modern web. Perhaps most importantly, authentication cookies are the most common method used by web servers to know whether the user is logged in or not, and which account they are logged in with. Without such a mechanism, the site would not know whether to send a page containing sensitive information or require the user to authenticate themselves by logging in. The security of an authentication cookie generally depends on the security of the issuing website and the user's

hacker, used to gain access to user data, or used to gain access (with the user's credentials) to the website to which the cookie belongs (see cross-site scripting and cross-site request forgery for examples).[51]

Tracking cookies, and especially third-party tracking cookies, are commonly used as ways to compile long-term records of individuals' browsing histories – a potential privacy concern that prompted European[52] and U.S. lawmakers to take action in 2011.[53][54] European law requires that all websites targeting European Union member states gain "informed consent" from users before storing non-essential cookies on their device.


Incognito mode in Google Chrome).[55]

Search engine

image search

A web search engine or Internet search engine is a

web directories, which are maintained only by human editors, search engines also maintain real-time information by running an algorithm on a web crawler. Internet content that is not capable of being searched by a web search engine is generally described as the deep web

Deep web

Deep web diagram
Deep web vs surface web
Surface Web & Deep Web

The deep web,

web search engines. The opposite term to the deep web is the surface web, which is accessible to anyone using the Internet.[59] Computer scientist Michael K. Bergman is credited with coining the term deep web in 2001 as a search indexing term.[60]

The content of the deep web is hidden behind

web mail, online banking, and services that users must pay for, and which is protected by a paywall, such as video on demand
, some online magazines and newspapers, among others.

The content of the deep web can be located and accessed by a direct URL or IP address and may require a password or other security access past the public website page.



search engines
store cached content of frequently accessed websites.



threats is SQL injection attacks against websites.[68] Through HTML and URIs, the Web was vulnerable to attacks like cross-site scripting (XSS) that came with the introduction of JavaScript[69] and were exacerbated to some degree by Web 2.0 and Ajax web design that favours the use of scripts.[70] Today[as of?] by one estimate, 70% of all websites are open to XSS attacks on their users.[71] Phishing is another common threat to the Web. In February 2013, RSA (the security division of EMC) estimated the global losses from phishing at $1.5 billion in 2012.[72]
Two of the well-known phishing methods are Covert Redirect and Open Redirect.

Proposed solutions vary. Large security companies like

Finjan have recommended active real-time inspection of programming code and all content regardless of its source.[63] Some have argued that for enterprises to see Web security as a business opportunity rather than a cost centre,[74] while others call for "ubiquitous, always-on digital rights management" enforced in the infrastructure to replace the hundreds of companies that secure data and networks.[75] Jonathan Zittrain has said users sharing responsibility for computing safety is far preferable to locking down the Internet.[76]


Every time a client requests a web page, the server can identify the request's

personally identifiable information is by using a virtual private network. A VPN encrypts
online traffic and masks the original IP address lowering the chance of user identification.

When a web page asks for, and the user supplies, personally identifiable information—such as their real name, address, e-mail address, etc. web-based entities can associate current web traffic with that individual. If the website uses

terms and conditions
and the local laws that apply information from these profiles may be sold, shared, or passed to other organizations without the user being informed. For many ordinary people, this means little more than some unexpected e-mails in their in-box or some uncannily relevant advertising on a future web page. For others, it can mean that time spent indulging an unusual interest can result in a deluge of further targeted marketing that may be unwelcome. Law enforcement, counterterrorism, and espionage agencies can also identify, target, and track individuals based on their interests or proclivities on the Web.

Social networking sites usually try to get users to use their real names, interests, and locations, rather than pseudonyms, as their executives believe that this makes the social networking experience more engaging for users. On the other hand, uploaded photographs or unguarded statements can be identified to an individual, who may regret this exposure. Employers, schools, parents, and other relatives may be influenced by aspects of social networking profiles, such as text posts or digital photos, that the posting individual did not intend for these audiences. Online bullies may make use of personal information to harass or stalk users. Modern social networking websites allow fine-grained control of the privacy settings for each posting, but these can be complex and not easy to find or use, especially for beginners.[77] Photographs and videos posted onto websites have caused particular problems, as they can add a person's face to an online profile. With modern and potential facial recognition technology
, it may then be possible to relate that face with other, previously anonymous, images, events, and scenarios that have been imaged elsewhere. Due to image caching, mirroring, and copying, it is difficult to remove an image from the World Wide Web.


Web standards include many interdependent standards and specifications, some of which govern aspects of the Internet, not just the World Wide Web. Even when not web-focused, such standards directly or indirectly affect the development and administration of websites and web services. Considerations include the interoperability, accessibility and usability of web pages and web sites.

Web standards, in the broader sense, consist of the following:

Web standards are not fixed sets of rules but are constantly evolving sets of finalized technical specifications of web technologies.

specifications, the highest maturity level).


There are methods for accessing the Web in alternative mediums and formats to facilitate use by individuals with disabilities. These disabilities may be visual, auditory, physical, speech-related, cognitive, neurological, or some combination. Accessibility features also help people with temporary disabilities, like a broken arm, or ageing users as their abilities change.[85] The Web is receiving information as well as providing information and interacting with society. The World Wide Web Consortium claims that it is essential that the Web be accessible, so it can provide equal access and equal opportunity to people with disabilities.[86] Tim Berners-Lee once noted, "The power of the Web is in its universality. Access by everyone regardless of disability is an essential aspect."[85] Many countries regulate web accessibility as a requirement for websites.[87] International co-operation in the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative led to simple guidelines that web content authors as well as software developers can use to make the Web accessible to persons who may or may not be using assistive technology.[85][88]


A global map of the Web Index for countries in 2014

The W3C

Universal Character Set—and now a resource can be identified by IRI in any language.[91]

See also


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Further reading

  • Berners-Lee, Tim; Bray, Tim; Connolly, Dan; Cotton, Paul; Fielding, Roy; Jeckle, Mario; Lilley, Chris; Mendelsohn, Noah; Orchard, David; Walsh, Norman; Williams, Stuart (15 December 2004). "Architecture of the World Wide Web, Volume One". W3C. Version 20041215.
  • Berners-Lee, Tim (August 1996). "The World Wide Web: Past, Present and Future". W3C.
  • Brügger, Niels, ed, Web25: Histories from the first 25 years of the World Wide Web (Peter Lang, 2017).
  • Fielding, R.; Gettys, J.; Mogul, J.; Frystyk, H.; Masinter, L.; Leach, P.; Berners-Lee, T. (June 1999). "Hypertext Transfer Protocol – HTTP/1.1". Request For Comments 2616. Information Sciences Institute.
  • Niels Brügger, ed. Web History (2010) 362 pages; Historical perspective on the World Wide Web, including issues of culture, content, and preservation.
  • Polo, Luciano (2003). "World Wide Web Technology Architecture: A Conceptual Analysis". New Devices.
  • Skau, H.O. (March 1990). "The World Wide Web and Health Information". New Devices.

External links