HTML and CSS Reference
A web browser, as mentioned earlier, is the application you use to view pages and navi-
gate the World Wide Web. A wide array of Web browsers is available for just about every
platform you can imagine. Microsoft Internet Explorer, for example, is included with
Windows, and Safari is included with Mac OS X. Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and
Opera are all available as free downloads. Currently, the most widely used is Microsoft
Internet Explorer (sometimes called just Internet Explorer or IE ), but competing
browsers are increasing their share of the market. These days, if you don't take all the
popular browsers into account when creating your Web pages, you'll limit your audience
Choosing to develop for a specific browser, such as Internet
Explorer, is suitable when you know a limited audience using the
targeted browser software will view your website. Developing this
way is a common practice in corporations implementing intranets.
In these situations, it's a fair assumption that all users in the
organization will use the browser supplied to them and, accord-
ingly, it's possible to design the web pages on an intranet to use
the specific capabilities of the browser in question.
What the Browser Does
The core purpose of a web browser is to connect to web servers, request documents, and
then properly format and display those documents. Web browsers can also display files
on your local computer, download files that are not meant to be displayed, and in some
cases even allow you to send and retrieve email. What the browser is best at, however, is
dealing with retrieving and displaying web documents. Each web page is a file written in
a language called the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) that includes the text of the
page, a description of its structure, and links to other documents, images, or other media.
The browser takes the information it gets from the web server and formats it for your
system. Different browsers might format and display the same file in diverse ways,
depending on the capabilities of that system and how the browser is configured.
Retrieving documents from the Web and formatting them for your system are the two tasks
that make up the core of a browser's functionality. Depending on the browser you use and
the features it includes, however, you can also play Flash animations, play multimedia
files, run Java applets, read your mail, or use other advanced features that a particular