What is the Internet and what is the World Wide Web? Don't know? Then click here before reading this page. A web browser is a piece of software designed to help us experience the world wide web in a user-friendly graphical way. The following are some of the functions a web browser performs ...
Popular web browsers include ...
Web browser software continues to develop with each new version offering added functionality and support for new web technologies and file formats. Web designers need to predict average end-user target systems by attempting to profile or determine their hardware (screen size, CPU etc) installed browser version and installed plug-ins.
Web browsers can handle relatively few types of data/file types on their own, therefore they utilise a system of additional program elements called plug-ins. These plug-ins are loaded (or integrate) with the core browser program when it is launched.
|Dosen't need plug-in||Needs plug-in|
|all flavours of html, all tags
.png (not fully supported)
Shockwave (.dcr, .dxr)
Adobe Acrobat (.pdf)
Video (all types)
Audio (including .wav, .aif & MP3)
Plug-ins are sometimes called File Helpers. Some plug-ins handle only one file type (eg Adobe Reader, Flash). Because some file types can be handled by a variety of plug-ins, Internet Explorer allows you to determine which files are handled by which plug-ins.
If a new plug-in/file format become popular enough they may be integrated within the source code of future browser versions.
Many plug-ins will be pre-installed on your machine, but if you're browser encounters a new file type it doesn't have a plug-in for, it may prompt you to download it.