Web Browser

A web browser, or simply "browser," is an application used to access and view websites. Common web browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari.

The primary function of a web browser is to render HTML, the code used to design or "mark up" webpages. Each time a browser loads a web page, it processes the HTML, which may include text, links, and references to images and other items, such as cascading style sheets and JavaScript functions. The browser processes these items, then renders them in the browser window.

Early web browsers, such as Mosaic and Netscape Navigator, were simple applications that rendered HTML, processed form input, and supported bookmarks. As websites have evolved, so have web browser requirements. Today's browsers are far more advanced, supporting multiple types of HTML (such as XHTML and HTML 5), dynamic JavaScript, and encryption used by secure websites.

The capabilities of modern web browsers allow web developers to create highly interactive websites. For example, Ajax enables a browser to dynamically update information on a webpage without the need to reload the page. Advances in CSS allow browsers to display responsive website layouts and a wide array of visual effects. Cookies allow browsers to remember your settings for specific websites.

While web browser technology has come a long way since Netscape, browser compatibility issues remain a problem. Since browsers use different rendering engines, websites may not appear the same across multiple browsers. In some cases, a website may work fine in one browser, but not function properly in another. Therefore, it is smart to install multiple browsers on your computer so you can use an alternate browser if necessary.

Updated February 28, 2014

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