URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) are the standardized means of addressing pages inthe Web.Technically, a URL (presumably pronounced like the name of the psychic known for bending spoons) is any short string leading to a resource that is acceptable for use on theWeb, while it also identifies a specific protocol for retrieving the resource. Though thismeaning is slightly different in case URI, URN, URP, URT & URVs.In the above acronyms, the "U" is sometimes construed as standing for "Universal" rather than "Uniform".URLs have the following form:
The first part, separated by a colon (:) from the rest of the URL, is the protocol, usuallyhttp for HyperText Transport Protocol, though other protocols such as ftp and gopher aresometimes used. For secure-server sites using an encrypted protocol, https is used as the protocol identifier. Next comes the hostname (domain name or IP address), preceded by a double slash (//). Itseems to be a common misconception that the colon and double slash are an inseparabledelimiter terminating the protocol -- for instance, the Mozilla team posted an onlinedocument regarding their implementation of irc:// URLs. Actually, the colon is theterminator of the protocol section, and the double slash is used to introduce a hostname or other site identifier (varying somewhat by protocol, with some less-common protocolstaking things other than domain names in this section) and is absent in URIs lacking ahostname like mailto: and news: URLs.After that is the directory path to the Web page you're accessing, with forward slashes (/)separating directory levels (not backslashes (\) like in DOS/Windows systems).So
also indicates that all the files of that web page are stored systematically indifferent folders of varied levels.
: Actually, as many purists will tell you, it's not true that the "path" portionof a URL is necessarily a directory path. Servers can be configured to interpret a URL path any way they like, which might not necessarily correspond to any actual subdirectory tree. Sites generated dynamically from databases may use URL paths that have nothing to do with directory structures. However, most Web servers do use URLscorresponding to the file structure, so that's what I'll assume for this document.
There are a few special protocols with URLs of differing syntax. mailto: is followed withan e-mail address to create a link allowing users to send mail to that address. news: isfollowed by the name of a newsgroup (e.g., comp.infosystems.www.authoring.html) tolet the user follow the link to see the newsgroup's messages (if the user's browser isconfigured to access a news server). Both of these URL types do not have slashes (singleor double) in them; the syntax looks like mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org, not