What is a Web Browser and how does it work? I Function, Types and Features

September 11, 2021

Uses of Web Browser? How does it work? Function, Types, and Features

A web browser, also known as a “browser,” is an application software that allows users to find, access, display, and view websites. Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari are all popular web browsers.

Web browsers are primarily used to display and access websites on the internet, as well as other content created with programming languages such as Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) and Extensible Markup Language (XML) (XML). Browsers convert Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) web pages and websites into human-readable content. They can also show other protocols and prefixes, such as secure HTTP (HTTPS), File Transfer Protocol (FTP), email handling (mailto:), and files (file:).

A web browser’s primary function is to render HTML, the code that is used to design or “mark up” web pages. When a browser loads a web page, it processes the HTML, which may contain text, links, and references to images and other items like CSS and JavaScript functions. The browser then renders these objects in the browser window after processing them.

Mosaic and Netscape Navigator were the first web browsers, and they were basic applications that rendered HTML, processed form input and supported bookmarks. Web browser standards have evolved in tandem with the evolution of websites. Browsers today are much more advanced, supporting various types of HTML (such as XHTML and HTML 5), dynamic JavaScript, and secure website encryption.

Web developers can create highly interactive websites thanks to the capabilities of modern web browsers. Ajax, for example, allows a browser to dynamically update information on a webpage without requiring the page to be reloaded. CSS advancements enable browsers to display responsive website layouts as well as a wide range of visual effects. Browsers use cookies to recall your preferences for specific websites.

While web browser technology has progressed since Netscape, browser compatibility issues continue to be an issue. Because different browsers use different rendering engines, websites may not look the same in different browsers. In other cases, a website may function properly in one browser but not in another. As a result, it’s a good idea to instal different browsers on your computer so that you can switch to another one if necessary.

A web browser (also known as a browser) is a software application that allows you to access information on the World Wide Web. When a user requests a web page from a specific website, the web browser requests the content from a web server and shows it on the user’s device.

A web browser is not the same as a search engine, despite the fact that the two are often confused. A search engine is simply a website that provides links to other websites to a user. A user must, however, have a web browser installed in order to connect to a website’s server and view its web pages.

Web browsers are used on desktops, notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, among other devices.

The function of Web Browsers and how they are useful:

Web browser function starts with a user entering the desired URL(Uniform Resource Locator) into the address bar of the browser. For example https://www.googledotcom. Depending on the URL prefix, the web browser interprets the URL and displays the content to the user. The URL prefix provides the protocol used to access the location. HTTP:// and HTTPS:// are the most commonly used URL prefixes.

Other commonly used prefixes include ftp: for File Transfer Protocol to download file or files from an FTP server, file: for files stored in a storage device locally, and mailto: which redirects to the user’s email application such as Gmail. mailto:someone@gmail.com is an example of a mailto:.

Once the resource has been located and interpreted the browser will display the content to the user. The browser application converts content such as HTML, CSS, and images to an interactive file in a process called rendering. Browsers can interpret and display content such as video, images, text, hyperlinks, and XML files.

Below are some of the main functions of web browsers

  • The main task is to collect information from the Internet and make it accessible to users.
  • A web browser can be used to visit any website. When we type a URL into a browser, the web server redirects us to that website.
  • Plugins are available on the web browser to run Java applets and flash content.
  • It simplifies Internet surfing because once we arrive at a website, we can quickly check the hyperlinks and access a wealth of information.
  • Internal cache is used by browsers and is saved so that the user can open the same webpage multiple times without losing any data.
  • A web browser can open multiple web pages at the same time.
  • Back, forward, reload, stop reload, home, and other options are available on these web browsers, making them simple and convenient to use.

Features of Web Browsers

The features of available web browsers range from minimal, text-based user interfaces with plain HTML support to rich user interfaces that support a wide range of file formats and protocols.

All major web browsers allow users to access multiple websites at the same time, either in separate browser windows or in different tabs of the same window. Pop-up blockers are also included in major browsers to prevent unwanted windows from springing up without the user’s permission.

Most web browsers can display a list of bookmarked web pages so that the user can quickly return to them. In Internet Explorer, bookmarks are also known as “Favorites.” Furthermore, all major web browsers include some form of web feed aggregator. Web feeds are formatted as “live bookmarks” in Firefox and acts like a folder of bookmarks corresponding to recent feed entries.

Furthermore, most browsers can be extended with plug-ins, which are downloadable components that add new functionalities.

The user interface

The following user interface elements are shared by the majority of major web browsers:

  1. Back and forward buttons are used to navigate to the previous URL and to move forward.
  2. A refresh or reload button that allows you to reload the updated version of the URI.
  3. A stop button to prevent the website from being loaded.
  4. A home button that takes the user back to his or her home page.
  5. An address bar for entering and displaying the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) of the desired resource.
  6. A search bar for entering keywords into a search engine. In some browsers, the search bar and the address bar are combined.
  7. A status bar that displays the progress of the resource loading as well as the URI links.
  8. The viewport is the space of the webpage that is visible within the browser window.
  9. The ability to access a page’s HTML source by viewing the source code.

Major browsers also have incremental find features that allow you to search within a web page.

The Evolution of Web Browsers

Web browsers are now widely available and can be used on a variety of devices, including computers, laptops, and mobile phones, but the process of making browsers more affordable took many years.

The following are some key points to be aware of when it comes to the history of web browsers:

Web Browsers Types

All web browsers perform the same functions. As a result, in addition to the various types, there are various web browsers that have been used over time.

The following are some examples of web browsers and their unique features:

  • The World Wide Web

The very first web browser, In 1990, the company was founded.  To avoid any confusion with the World Wide Web, it was later renamed “Nexus”. Had very simple features and a graphical interface that was less interactive. The bookmark feature was not available.

  • Mosaic 

It was first introduced in 1993 and was the second web browser to be released. It had a more appealing graphical user interface. The use of images, text, and graphics could all be combined.  It was developed at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (National Center for Supercomputing Applications). Marc Andreessen was the man in charge of the Mosaic development team. It was dubbed “the world’s first widely used browser.

  • Netscape Navigator

It came out in 1994. In terms of usage share in the 1990s, it was the most popular browser. Netscape released new versions of this browser. It had a sophisticated licencing scheme that allowed for unrestricted non-commercial use.

  • Internet Explorer

Microsoft introduced it in 1995. By 2003, it had surpassed Internet Explorer as the most widely used browser, with nearly 95% of all users using it. Microsoft released nearly ten versions of Internet Explorer, each of which was gradually upgraded. It came pre-installed on Microsoft’s Windows operating system. It was replaced by “Microsoft Edge” in 2015, when Windows 10 5 made it the default browser.

  • Firefox 

It was first released in 2002, and it was developed by the Mozilla Foundation. During 2003-04, Firefox overtook Internet Explorer as the most popular browser and became the dominant browser. With Firefox, location-aware browsing became possible. This browser is also available for mobile phones, laptops, and other mobile devices.

  • Google Chrome 

Google introduced it in 2008. It’s a web browser that works on all platforms. Multiple features from previous browsers were combined to create better and more modern features. Google created the ad-blocking feature to protect computers from malware and keep user data safe and secure. Private searching is available in Incognito mode, which means no cookies or history are saved. It has the best user interface to date.

Web Browser Cookies

A cookie is a file that websites use to store information about you when you visit a website. When you return, the website code will check to see whether you have returned, and if you have, it will then read the file and verify your identity. For example, whenever you visit a website, the page stores your username and password so that you do not have to retype it every time. This is made possible by a cookie.

It is also possible to personalize cookies by recording additional information about yourself. Your preferences, history, search terms used, web browsing behaviors and the like could perhaps identify you. This indicates that a site is capable of delivering you more relevant content in the form of advertisements. Some cookies, referred to as third-party cookies, are placed on websites, which helps third parties (businesses) gather information about you across different websites.

Privacy for web browsers

Many web browsers, such as Google Chrome, provide a private surfing option. These are designed to conceal other people’s browsing history on the same machine. Many people believe that private browsing and incognito mode shield users’ identities and web histories from ISPs, governments, and advertisers. This is not always true. Private browsing only clears the history on your system, which is particularly handy if you are using a shared or public computer and need to deal with sensitive personal information.

Browser Extensions

The majority of popular online browsers give users the ability to enhance their browser experience by installing extensions or add-ons. Extensions are additional pieces of software that you can use to personalize your browser according to your requirements or to provide additional features. An extension can perform things like enabling added functionalities like taking a screengrab or doing a grammar check, add-ons, or different language translations.

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