World Wide Web Vocabulary

By Deborah Healey

Here's a handy list of useful vocabulary for the World Wide Web.

Uniform/Universal Resource Locator -- this is the web address that you use, and looks something like or telnet://
A program that you use to look at information on the World Wide Web. Because the information is in a special format, you need a special program - a 'web browser' - to see the information.
A company that makes one of the most popular web browsers, Netscape Navigator. Navigator is free to people in education (teachers, students, administrators, etc.). Many people refer to the browser simply as "Netscape."
To go looking at various websites, not necessarily with a goal in mind, but seeing lots of interesting places.
HyperText Markup Language - the way text files are coded on the web so that they aren't completely ugly. All text on the web starts out as very plain text, then has HTML codes like <B> for boldface, <I> for italics, <P> for new paragraph, etc. added to make it look nicer.
HyperText Transport Protocol - the underlying instructions used by the web browser to send and receive information. HTTP is like the rules rather than the content.
File Transfer Protocol - this is a way to send programs, not just text, between computers. There are many computers around the world that are set up as "anonymous FTP servers," which means that they make the files they have available to anyone who wants them. They're called 'anonymous' because you type "Anonymous" as your login name, with your regular email name as your password. You can use an ftp server over the web, which can make getting files pretty easy. FTP server URLs start with ftp:// rather than http://
Telnet is a program that lets you log into another computer, perhaps one that is thousands of miles away, and run programs there. You can use Telnet to go places like SchMOOze, though it's not the easiest way to communicate there. Telnet is not easy to use, because most telnet servers run Unix - not a very 'friendly' operating system.
This is an earlier way to share information on the Internet, and it has only text files. There is a network of gopher servers around the world, still, with lots of files. You can get to gopher through the Web, too. A gopher URL starts with gopher://
Open Location
This lets you type a URL to go to a web page. In the later versions of the browsers, you don't need to type the http:// part of the address; the browser will guess that it's what you want. If the address is in the form, you can just type NAME and it will put in the rest.
Open File
You don't need to be on the web to look at web pages. You can choose Save As... from the File menu when you're in Netscape and save a page to your disk in "Source" format. Once it's on your disk, you can choose Open File from the File menu in Netscape to see the web page without being connected to the Internet. See my tech tip about this at
These are links to websites that you want to find more easily. When you find a website you like that you want to keep, in Netscape, you choose Add Bookmarks from the Bookmarks menu; in Internet Explorer, you'll Add a Favorite.
Search Engine
The power of the web is in its information, but there's too much there for anyone to read through it all. You need to use a "search engine" to find what you're looking for. There are many search engines, but the most popular ones are Alta Vista, Infoseek, Excite, Yahoo, and Magellan. They all index a lot of the same places, but they also each have sites that the others don't. You'll need to try several to see which is best for you. One way to get a good comparison of the search engines is with a "meta-search engine" (see below).

A special note is needed for -- this is a search engine that looks for programs that you can download from the Internet. These programs are not commercial ones like Microsoft Word, but rather smaller programs that often do useful and interesting things. The MOO and Chat clients I've asked you to download you can find by using and searching for "MOO" or "Chat."

Meta-search engine
Metacrawler ( and Dogpile ( are two common examples. A meta-search engine searches a whole series of search engines for you and presents the results. It's an easy way to see if one of the search engines works better for what you need than others.

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Updated 11/9/97 by D.Healey,