W3 Protocols

The W3 project has deined a number of common practices which allow all the clients and servers to communicate.


When you are reading a document, behind every link there is the network-wide address of the document to which it refers. The design of these addresses (URLs) is as fundamental to W3 as hypertext itself. The addreses allow any object anywhere on the internet to be described, even though these objects are accesed using a variety of different protocols. This flexibility allows the web to envelop all the existing data in FTP archives, news arcticles, and WAIS and Gopher servers.


The web uses a number of protocols, then, but it also has its own Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). This protocol includes a number of facilities which we needed: it is fast, stateless and extensable. It also allows the web to surmount the problems of different data types using negotiation of the data represeentation as already described .

The other protocols which W3 clients can speak include FTP, WAIS, Gopher, and NNTP, the network news protocol.


Although W3 uses many different formats, this is one basic format which every W3 client understands. It is a simple SGML document type allowing structured text with links. The fact that HTML is valid SGML opens the door to interchange with other systems, but SGML was not chosen for any particular technical merit. HTML describes the logical structure of the document instead of its formatting. This allows it to be displayed optimally on different platforms using different fonts and conventions.

Part of the W3 seminar . On to W3 software

Tim BL