LEAP CMS - Website Operating System

Be Your Own Webmaster.

Chapter 1

What is the Internet?

LEAP™ is designed for the novice computer user. Consequently, we have included a quick overview of how the Web works to make sure we are all communicating on the same page.

Note that the “Internet” is not the same as “the Web.” The Internet refers to the entire structure of wires, switches, routers and machines which share digital traffic with other machines. The “World Wide Web” (aka the “Web”) is the visual component based on one protocol for transferring information across the Internet. The Web has, incidentally, become one of the most popular protocols; however, it could be argued that Email (a completely different system running on the Internet) is more popular.

Basically, the Web works like this: a server (a glorified computer, just like the one in your office only much more expensive) sits in a building somewhere, attached to the myriad of Internet wires by one of these wires and it is known by its “digital address.” Every computer attached to the Internet has a “digital address,” which is a group of numbers called an IP (e.g. “”), but this expensive machine has an expensive address which never changes (called a “static IP”). Cheaper addresses often change whenever they connect.

When you sit down at your computer, you type in an “easy to read” address (e.g. http://www.treefrog.ca, aka a “Domain Name”) into the “address bar” of your browser. Your computer checks its settings and goes out on the web looking for the numerical address equivalent to your “easy to read” address. This system is called DNS. In milliseconds (hopefully), the DNS system returns to your computer with the numerical equivalent of the address of the server which holds the website you are looking for. You may find that the first time you go to a new website, depending on how busy your network is, it will often take significantly more time to find the site than subsequent site visits. This is because your computer remembers (caches) this answer for 24 hours so it doesn’t have to do the numerical search again.

With this numerical address in hand, your computer requests a document from the appropriate server. This server then sends raw text back to your computer. (You can see this raw text any time in your browser by using the “View Source” on your browser). The program on your computer, called a “browser” or “client,” takes this text and uses it to render a website “page.” Each website usually contains multiple “pages.” Think of a “website” as a “folder” with hundreds of documents in it. By requesting one particular document by name, you get the page of that particular document from the website “folder.”

Now, there are many of these browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.) used to view these documents, and they all render this same text document differently. In the same way, if you sent the same architectural drawings of a house to 10 different construction contractors, you would get 10 similar – but still different – houses.

Every computer also has different settings, a different sized monitor, a different operating system, and different glitches or problems with it. They are being viewed at different times of day in different lighting environments, with different “added extras.” Every viewing experience is different, and trying to get a web document to appear “exactly the same on everyone’s browser” is just plain impossible.

What you should try and remember as we edit and maintain websites is that the goal is to provide the “best case scenario” for the largest percentage of people possible and we need to accept that those individuals living outside of the norm are sufficiently used to getting abnormal scenarios and that they accept them as the norm.

In other words, the “Web” is a dynamic place where we need to think in “ideals” rather than “absolutes.” Keep this in mind as we move forward…

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