Primer

diagram

If any of the following terms are confusing, please check ahead to the glossary here or check with your RazorVolt coach.

The internet is a terribly complicated global machine, but don’t worry, all you really need to know for websites can be boiled down to the 3 main interactions pictured here.

  1. Uploading to/ Downloading from your Web host’s server

    Website owners typically pay web hosts to serve their websites for them. They can upload and download their files to their hosts using an FTP program. However, before accessing their files, they will have to provide a username and password to prove they are allowed to make changes to their site.  Once the site owner is happy with the files on the server, they’re free to log off and the host will take care of the rest.
    Note: FTP is simply a transfer method, so it allows you to move, rename, or even delete your files.  FTP does NOT allow you to edit your files on the server. To do that, you must upload a new file to replace the old version. So, it helps to keep a copy of your files on your home computer which you can adjust, then upload when necessary.

  2. Domain Name Translation

    When you  put a domain name like Google.com into your web browser and click Go!  Your browser often takes a few microseconds to detour to the local Domain Name Server (DNS). The DNS is like a yellow pages that tells your browser where to find your server on the internet. For instance,  the address of Google.com’s server is actually at 74.125.45.100 , which your browser can then contact. Amazingly, if you plug that IP address into your browser (or click here), you’ll reach google.com just as easily.
    This is important to understand just what an IP address is and how you can start working on a site even before you have registered a domain name. Additionally, it shows how easy it would be to transfer a website to a different host (such as RazorVolt.com ;) )  All you would need to do is let your domain name registrar know that you’ll be hosting your site elsewhere and they’ll gladly change your entry in the “phone book”

  3. Serving webpages

    This is the majority of what happens on the net.  Once your browser is directed to a new URL, it resolves the domain name’s IP address, then contacts the webserver and requests the page via HTTP. The page arrives, then the browser makes a second pass and starts retrieving all the images and scripts specified in the HTML. Once everything arrives, it then uses the HTML layout instructions to arrange all the pieces into the web page you see before you. This all happens EVERY TIME you click a link. Amazing, eh?
    Since browsers use HTTP instead of FTP, web surfers can’t make any changes to the files on your server; they can only view the files that you placed there. There is no way for them to manipulate files on the web server unless you have installed a specially written script that will allow them to (and which would be quite dangerous). In fact, using HTTP, there’s no way for them to even see which files are available on the server.

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