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Exploring the WEB

 Using A WEB Browser


Using A Web Browser

In order to explore the web you will need a special piece of software known as a web browser. The two most commonly used web browsers are Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer. They both operate in a similar manner using menus and buttons to help you navigate around the web.

You can try these Webhints for some specific help with using your browser or see What To Expect for an explanation of the major functions of the browser. If you are using Netscape try this Tutorial


Some Tips Before You Start Surfing

Don't be overwhelmed by Cyberspace! Feeling lost is normal and should be anticipated. Much like journeying to a foreign country you know there are many things to see and do, but everything at first will seem so--well, foreign. When you first arrive, you'll have trouble reading the street signs. You'll get lost. And don't be timid! As you travel the Net, your computer may freeze, your screen may erupt into a mass of gibberish. The Net and your computer are hardier than you think, so relax. You can't break the Net! If something goes wrong, try again. If nothing else, you can always restart your computer.

Finally, a warning---this territory is addictive and there is so much to see and do. It can become a fantastic time-sink. Hours can slip by, people can come and go, and you'll be locked into the Internet. Happy Surfing!


What To Expect

On any web page you'll normally find text, images and hyperlinks.

Hyperlinks allow you to move from page to page just by clicking on them with your mouse. Effectively a hyperlink can take you to pages on the same computer or other computers all around the world. Text hyperlinks will normally be differentiated from the rest of the document by a different color or underlined. Images can also be hyper-linked but are sometimes a little more difficult to tell immediately if they are hyper-linked, except that for any hyperlinks, whether it be from text or an image, when your mouse is over the hyperlink it will change from an arrow to a hand, letting you know if you click then, you will move to a new web page or a new part of the current web page, or even to audio and video files that you click on in the same way to hear or see them. When you have visited a link and return to the page you accessed it from, most times the link will change color allowing you to see which links you have already visited on that page which is helpful when you are looking through a long list of links.

The operation of the web relies mainly on these hyperlinks as its means of linking resources from a range of locations.

A web page can have many hyperlinks to other web pages sitting on web servers all around the world. When you select an item on a web page by clicking on it with your mouse, a copy of that item will be retrieved by your browser. You don't actually see this movement, only the document or image appearing on your screen.

Sometimes images and programs can take some time to travel down the telephone to your computer. This is one of the greatest bug bears of the WWW. All we can do though in the interim is be patient, and wait for internet connections to be made faster.

Now you can simply browse the web going from link to link but you may not find the information you want. The search button on your web browser will take you to a site that has a collection of search engines which compile databases of web pages. You select the search engine and then type in keywords, you can be very specific about the resources you're after.

Directories are another way to find what you want on the WWW. They are collections of resources organized into categories. They can focus on one subject area and some may collect and organize resources in a number of areas like the SOFWeb Resource Centre. Through your web browser you can also gain access to Electronic Mail and Newsgroups.

If you like a page you have visited and would like to revisit it at a later date you can save it's location by clicking on the favorites button in Explorer or the bookmarks menu in Netscape. You select add to , then the next time you open the menu this page has been added to the list. You are also able to sort your favorite pages into directories.

You can use your back button on your browser for moving back through web pages you have previously viewed, this helps when you are viewing several links from one web page. You can also move forward through that same selection.

You could also use Go on the Menu Bar which contains a history list of all the pages you have visited. You can select a particular page without having to move through all the pages in-between.

If a web page is taking too long to load up you can use the stop button and try an alternate site. This sometimes happens if there are a lot of graphics on the page.

The refresh or reload button gets you a new copy of the page from the WWW. You can use this for pages that update regularly.

The home button will take you back to a page you have pre-selected to be your start up page. Don't confuse this with an actual home page which is the introductory page of a website that normally has a master menu of documents on that site. You can also send and receive email through your browser but it is not as sophisticated as the specialised electronic mail packages. As the range of materials on the web gets more complex and exciting it sometimes is necessary to add special add-on programs to the browser or your computer. There are two basic types, plugins and players. Plugins add new features to your browser and players to your computer or outside of your browser.

With the latest versions of Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator you will have much of what you'll need to enjoy multimedia formats on the web like sound and video but occasionally you will across a file that won't work unless you get the appropriate plugin or player.

Interactive Multimedia

Besides the obvious Sounds and Movies available for viewing on the web there are other types of interactive multimedia involving java, shockwave and cgi programs all written for the web for you to interact with.

You can try this list of interactive shockwave games to see how shockwave works. Make sure you try this mudball game - it's excellent.

Visit Magnet's 1000 Questions About Australia This project, which was developed and is coordinated by Magnet, aims to develop student skills in the use of e-mail, World Wide Web publishing techniques and multimedia authoring. Students construct multiple choice questions on the web and also provide clues to assist in choosing the correct response. This is done through the use of a web page, audio and online video using video streaming technology.

Uniform Resource Locators

All of the documents that you will find on the Internet are differentiated by a unique address which is technically referred to as a URL which stands for Uniform Resource Locator. Think of it as a networked extension of the standard filename concept: not only can you point to a file in a directory, but that file and that directory can exist on any machine on the network, and can be served via a several different methods.

They can look complicated but are easier to understand when you divide it into its component parts. Understanding how URL's are composed will enable you to locate and remember document locations with greater ease.

A URL is always a single unbroken line with no spaces. For Example:


The first part http:// indicates that you wish to retrieve a document via the world wide web and stands for HypterText Transfer Protocol.

Most resources that you will access are located on World Wide Web servers and are thus named www at the beginning of the address. Each world wide web server will have a domain name. This is the domain name for SOFWeb - sofweb.vic.edu.au. Web pages can be organized into directories. This web page sits in a directory called internet. Lastly each web page has its own file name - this document is called intro.htm. All web pages end in .htm or html because they are documents prepared for viewing on the web through a web browser.

To access a URL you only need to click on the Open Location button on your browser and type in the URL and press enter. All URL's or Web pages that you visit can be saved into your bookmarks file in your browser so that you don't have to remember them all. For more information on saving bookmarks.

Sometimes you may come across a url that starts with ftp:// instead of http:// this means that the file is located on an FTP server instead of a WWW server. FTP servers are sometimes used for downloading files as they are a lot quicker than the standard WWW server.

When you are accessing Newsgroups the urls will always start with news. eg. news:rec.gardening.

These are the most common type of URL's you will come across. You can find more information on URLs here.

İ State of Victoria (Department of Education, Employment & Training)
Initiative of the SOFWeb Project

Contact: SOFWeb

Last Updated: August 11, 2000


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Last modified: June 04, 2008