The World Wide Web
The World Wide Web is the preferred medium for distributing information and services electronically. At Penn, the supported software packages for browsing the Web are Firefox, Internet Explorer (IE), and Safari.
How you view information on the Web is a function of your browser's capabalities, a particular server's capabilities, and your preferences. Graphical browsers such as Firefox, Internet Explorer, and Safari, offer a very wide array of functionality for viewing the Web. They support graphics, backgrounds, and tables, and allow for the display of separate sections, or frames, within the browser window. They can also download and run Java applets and perform file transfers via built-in FTP. These browsers enable secure financial and other transactions across the Web.
Graphical browsers normally come configured to point automatically to their corporate parent's home pages. To keep up to date with what's happening at Penn, you should modify your graphical browser to point to Penn's home page, www.upenn.edu, at startup. You do this in Firefox's "Options" and IE's "Internet Options" window. Locate these windows by selecting "Tools" --> "Options" --> "General" in Firefox and "Tools" --> "Internet Options" in IE.
Graphical browsers use three different methods to access resources they are not inherently capable of accessing: helper applications, plug-ins, and Java applets.
Helper applications are separate applications installed on your computer that a browser invokes to perform tasks it cannot do on its own. Browsers must be configured to recognize each helper application they use.
Plug-ins are small programs installed on your computer that actually run within a browser's window (i.e., the mini-program's functionality is "plugged in" to the browser). The recommended plug-ins and helper applications include QuickTime, RealPlayer, Flash Player, Windows Media Player, and Adobe Reader -- see the product specifications, available from the Supported Products page, for details.
Java applets are programs written in the Java programming language that Web page developers can place on their pages to extend their functionality. When you view a Web page that contains an applet using a Java-compatible browser such as IE or Firefox, the applet automatically downloads and runs on your computer.
Because Web browsers can access several different types of Internet resources, a standardized addressing scheme is necessary to allow browsers to identify the type and location of information on the Internet. A URL, short for Uniform Resource Locator, is the unique address on the Internet of any item (home page, document, graphic, etc.). A URL always specifies the Internet protocol to be used and a host name. (A protocol is a set of rules that specifies how information in a given location is to be accessed and used). A path to a specific menu or file may also be included. For example, you can download an archived copy of Shakespeare's Tempest on UUNet's FTP server by typing the URL ftp://ftp.uu.net/doc/literary/shakespeare/comedies/tempest.Z into the "Location:" or "Address:" field at the top of your browser window. The URL http://www.upenn.edu/computing/help/doc/browser/www.html takes you to this document. Both of these addresses conform to following format:
Penn's home page is your entry to the Penn Web -- a rich and varied collection of documents, resources, and services contributed by academic and administrative departments, student groups, and individual students, faculty, and staff. The Penn Web now comprises several hundred thousand pages stored on more than 300 servers. Information on how to participate in the Penn Web and links to Web standards and guidelines, Penn logos, and other resources can be found at www.upenn.edu/computing/web/.
Like any useful resource, the Penn Web continues to evolve, spurred on by rapid changes in Web technology, heightened expectations for information-on-demand, and heightened awareness of what's possible, on the part of both users and information providers. The Penn Web Team would appreciate your suggestions for making the Penn Web more responsive to your needs. Please send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- About the Penn Web
- The Penn Web-SIG is open to Penn faculty, staff, and students with an interest in the support of web systems, sites, and services on campus