How to Define and Understand What a URL Address Is

Each time we surf the internet, we see URLs. Anytime we need to go to a specific web page, we use URLs. Yet, we rarely ever stop to think what exactly a URL is.

Here’s a crash course to help define and understand what a URL address is –


A uniform resource locator or URL specifies where a resource is available on the web and how to retrieve it. By typing in a specific series of letters and numbers in the address bar of a browser, you immediately go to a website (address in a virtual world) to obtain information.

Every URL has the same naming convention:

* The protocol
* A colon
* A hostname or IP address
* A port number
* The path to be accessed
* An optional anchor (for HTML) or query string (for CGI)

The protocol indicates the namespace or purpose in addition to the syntax of the remaining part of the URL. For instance, http://example.com. The hostname or IP address specifies the destination location for the URL. For example, google.com is the domain name and 72.14.207.99 is the IP address. It’s easier to remember the domain name as opposed to the IP address.

The port number is optional and if omitted, default port of 80 is used. By stating a specific port, it tells the browser to connect to a certain port on that server. The path to be accessed is used to find the specific resource requested. Since this aspect is case sensitive, if entered in uppercase letters, an HTTP 404 error will occur.

Finally, the anchor for an HTML website refers to a location on the actual web page. On the other hand, the query string used to for CGI websites holds data that is to be passed along to specific web applications like CGI programs. Query strings are generally separated by ampersands while names and values are separated by an equal sign.

There you have it. You now know the syntax of a URL, which may be beneficial when working or using the internet. Each segment of a URL has a specific purpose that points to a location where information can be retrieved or specific applications can be accessed.

How to Define and Understand What a URL Address Is

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