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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Quick Tip: URLs - Uniform Resource Locator

URLs, or Uniform Resource Locators, are the method by which documents or data are addressed in the World Wide Web. The URL contains the following information:

- the protocol.
- the DNS name of the machine on which the page is located.
- the local name uniquely indicating the specific page.
- the location of the resource in the directory structure of the server.

To make a piece of text clickable, the page writer must provide two items of information : the clickable text to be displayed and the URL of the page to go to if the text is selected. Once the text is selected, the browser looks up the host name using DNS. Now armed with the host's IP address, the browser establish TCP connection to host. Over that connection, it sends the file name using the specified protocol.
The URL scheme is open to have protocols other than HTTP also. In short, URL's have been designed to not only allow users to navigate the Web, but to deal with FTP, news, Gopher, email, and telnet as well, making all the specialized user interface programs for those other services unnecessary, and thus integrating nearly all Internet access into a single program, the Web Browser.
The growing use of the Web has turned up an weakness in URL scheme. A URL points to one specific host. For pages that are heavily referenced, it is desirable to have multiple copies far apart, to reduce network traffic. The advent of systems such as Akami are meant to meet that need, distributing content over multiple servers on a global level.

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