Web standards and browsers

There are two elements that have been crucial to explaining the way Internet has reached the current level of popularity: browsers and web standards.

It was in 1991 when Tim Berners Lee created the first web page, in order to explain how WWW (World Wide Web) works. Thus, the (few) visitors of this webpage could know features as common today as hypertext or the process of creating new pages.

As we known, We need a web browser to visit web pages downloaded through the Internet network, allowing users to read the files they want . Early browsers were used in very small university environment and were not subject to a standard that would allow the extension of these technologies massively.

The main web browsers

The main web browsers

The first browser was Mosaic (1992), initially focused on Unix operating system. A year later a Windows version was developed. But Netscape Navigator was the first browser to achieve high levels of popularity, significantly improving the performance of Mosaic.

Internet Explorer was created in 1995 to become, in a short time, the most popular browser using its hegemonic position in the market of operating systems (this practice has been systematically (denounced as unfair competition).

In the following years will appear new versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator. The latter ceased to be updated in 2008, releasing its source code and providing the basis for a popular ans open source code new browser: Mozilla Firefox.

Over the last twenty years appeared other browsers like Safari, Opera or Google Chrome. All of them created new versions oriented to new devices and different trademarks.

Internet Explorer is no longer the most popular browser. Instead of it, and its place has been taken by Google Chrome browser. In this graph we can get an idea of ​​the current state of this (competitive) market:

Comparative statistical about web browser popularity

Comparative statistical about web browser popularity

It is noteworthy that the revolution introduced by devices such as smartphones or tablets. This has forced the developers of web browsers or (especially) web sites to adapt to this new reality. The main browsers have created versions adapted to new devices and growing number of websites have mobile versions. In other cases, the companies choose responsive web design: adapting the layout depending on the viewport device.

Responsive web design

Responsive web design

But if we must emphasize a modernizer agent over the years, this would be the W3C consortium. This is the W3C presentation:

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international community that develops open standards to ensure the long-term growth of the Web

W3C’s role is crucial and has been responsible for defining a set of rules and good practise to creating websites. Thanks to the W3C standards, developers around the world have a pattern when they’re enconding a website. These websites can be viewed on equal terms by any user, regardless of operating system or browser used.

World Wide Web Consortium

World Wide Web Consortium

Here are some of the main web standards recommended by W3C:

HTML: Hypertext Markup Language. It is a markup language (with semantic load)  that can be interpret by all browsers in the market. It also has a great importance in areas such as organic search engine optimization (SEO) and web accessibility (allowing, for example, access to Web content to people with disabilities). Today websites are often developed in the HTML5 specification.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. Allow us to define the appearance of the contents of a website (design). In recent years we can also generate codes oriented to tablets or smartphones. The current specification of the stylesheets is CSS3.

DOM: Document Object Model. This standard allows access and manipulation of various elements of a web page to, among other things, facilitate user interaction with the website.

There are other related standards that are not directly dependent W3C, as the Javascript language, which allows us to control the behavior of the web site upon certain events or user interactions. In this case, standardization is provided by Ecma International.

In summary, we can say that web standards are the best tool to create web content and apps apart from the platform (operating system) and the device, ensuring access to most Internet users and proper communication between different applications . For example, today it’s possible to “embed” a Youtube video on a blog thanks to HTML5.

The W3C Spanish Office is located in the Technology Park of Gijón.


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