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What are HTTP and HTML?

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As you probably know by now, the IT (Internet technology) world is full of acronyms and abbreviations that aren't easy to understand and still not common knowledge. I mean, most people know that ATM stands for automated teller machine and PIN means personal identification number to use an ATM.

And even if you don't know what those abbreviations really mean, you know what they are.

It's often not the same for the Internet. Abbreviations are usually for obscure technical topics. Let's go over abbreviations (actually, they're called "initialisms") that you've likely heard before—HTTP and HTML. They're common in a lot of talk about the Internet, especially if you've been reading some of our articles on our website.

HTTP

When you use Google Chrome, Firefox or some other browser to lookup a Web page, what you see on your monitor is a result of an interaction between your browser and a Web server—the computer that "hosts" the website. Your browser and the Web server talk to each other using a special language called Hypertext Transfer Protocol....HTTP.

What the Web server sends you (after you make your request) is a unique combination of images, text, addresses and special codes for formatting. They come as digital information, often in separate bits and pieces of data, but they manage to come together into a unified page or document.

How does that happen? Through another amazing and versatile formatting language known as Hypertext Markup Language...or HTML.

In its most basic context, HTML is something like a word processing program on steroids. Before fancy word processing (that allowed italics, bold, underline and different fonts) most messages (in understood languages like English or French) were sent in a plain text format. But over time word processing programs and advancements allowed fancier text development.

HTML, similarly, grew in sophistication over time according to a universal, non-vendor specific system. The HTML codes handled text and, not long afterword, pictures and layout information.

HTML

An HTML document contains a combination of the following:

  • Text
  • Graphics
  • Text formatting codes (font and layout information)
  • References to secondary files, such as graphics files
  • Links to other HTML documents, locations in the current document, or even a totally different part of the Web page...or different website.

HTML at Work

Okay, so you're at your computer, right this second.

  • Let's say you open your Web browser and key-in the URL of the website you want to visit, such as Amazon.com.
  • Your browser gets everything going by initiating a connection to the Web server for that website.
  • The Web server sends the Hypertext Markup Language data across the Internet, directly to your computer's browser.
  • The Web browser assembles the HTML data into the view of the Web page that you see on your monitor.

Of course, that's an explanation at its simplest. However, that's really all you need to know to understand how HTTP and HTML work together to make the Internet work for you.

So although this overview doesn't make you an IT expert, there's a good chance you'll know more than the every day, non-techies you work with or are in your group of friends and family.

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