HTML and CSS Reference
Chances are that you've used the Web, perhaps even a lot. However, you might not have
done a lot of thinking about how it works under the covers. In this first section, I
describe the Web at a more theoretical level so that you can understand how it works as a
I have a friend who likes to describe things using many meaningful words strung
together in a chain so that it takes several minutes to sort out what he's just said.
If I were he, I'd describe the World Wide Web as a global, interactive, dynamic, cross-
platform, distributed, graphical hypertext information system that runs over the Internet.
Whew! Unless you understand all these words and how they fit together, this description
isn't going to make much sense. (My friend often doesn't make much sense, either.)
So, let's look at all these words and see what they mean in the context of how you use
the Web as a publishing medium.
The Web Is a Hypertext Information System
The idea behind hypertext is that instead of reading text in a rigid, linear structure (such
as a topic), you can skip easily from one point to another. You can get more information,
go back, jump to other topics, and navigate through the text based on what interests you
at the time.
Hypertext enables you to read and navigate text and visual information in a nonlinear
way, based on what you want to know next.
When you hear the term hypertext , think links . (In fact, some people still refer to links as
hyperlinks.) Whenever you visit a web page, you're almost certain to see links through-
out the page. Some of the links might point to locations within that same page, others to
pages on the same site, and still others might point to pages on other sites. Hypertext was
an old concept when the Web was invented—it was found in applications such as
HyperCard and various help systems. However, the World Wide Web redefined how
large a hypertext system could be. Even large websites were hypertext systems of a scale
not before seen, and when you take into account that it's no more difficult to link to a
document on a server in Australia from a server in the United States than it is to link to a
document stored in the same directory, the scope of the Web becomes truly staggering.