W3C Library

Why Libwww?

Rough consensus and running code is the main idea behind libwww. As for all W3C OpenSource code, the purpose of libwww is to provide an environment for experimenting with extensions and new features. The focus of libwww is performance, modularity, and extensibility. It contains highly efficient code for HTTP and URIs but also for many other parts of the Web, primarily for client side applications like robots, browsers, GUI apps, and automated tools.

Libwww has been part of the World Wide Web almost from the beginning. Tim Berners-Lee designed and implemented the first version back in November 1992 as part of demonstrating the potential of the Web. Many people have picked up libwww and used it in a variety of contexts. Applications such as Lou Montulli's Lynx character based client, Mosaic Web browser by Marc Andreesen and Eric Bena, and the CERN server by Ari Luotonen were all using later versions of libwww. Later on, applications like the Arena browser by Dave Raggett and Håkon W. Lie have been added to the list.

Thanks to CERN, libwww was free from the very start and was released on a regular basis to the Web Community. When CERN stopped being the center of the Web in late 1994, libwww moved from CERN to W3C which continued its development. In May 1998, the code base was made even more available in that people now can check it out directly from our CVS codebase. Today, libwww is freely available under W3C Copyright for use by anyone and has a growing OpenSource community helping maintaining it.

Along with the core library comes set of sample applications that demonstrate how to use libwww but at the same time can perform useful tasks in their own right.

As all OpenSource software, the growth depends on you - it doesn't happen by itself. Check out what you can do in order to help moving libwww forward and making it stronger and more useful to everybody.

José Kahan,
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