The abbreviation URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator (lay people may call it “address” or “web address”)
- In 1995, Tim Barnes-Lee, the father of World Wide Web, defined and implemented a scheme of addressing each resource on the WWW or Internet. Such a scheme was extremely important because WWW contained millions of items (like images, web pages, files etc.) and each needed to be uniquely identified for Internet to smoothly work. Barnes-Lee called these addresses as Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) –a name that was later changed to URL
- Today there are close to 70 billion web pages and each one of these has a unique address (i.e. URL). That’s the power and importance of URL scheme.
- A URL never contains any space.
- Mostly a URL is in lowercase –although the letter case does not matter in general.
- Most URLs begin with http://
Structure of a URL
Now let’s analyze the various parts of a URL. Let’s take URL of a YouTube video for the purpose of our study. This URL points to the viral “Why this Kolaveri Di” song
For the ease of our study, I am coloring various parts of this URL -so that you can recognize each part easily.
Every URL starts with the name of the language (geeks call it protocol) using which your computer and the server of this song should communicate. In our study case the language is “http”. There are other such purpose-specific languages or protocols available –so you might also see “ftp” and “https” … The language is followed by “://” symbols
World Wide Web
Then comes the famous “www” –in some URLs you will not find it but we will not go in those details. “www” simply means that the resource you are seeking by the means of this address resides in the World Wide Web (aka Internet).
Then the name of the resource owner comes; which is “youtube” in this case.
Owner’s name is followed by the type of domain in which the owner is registered. “.com” means that the website which is making this resource available to you is of commercial nature. There are other types of domains as well. For example, “.org” for organizational website, “.edu” for educational institutions, “.gov” for government websites, “.mil” for military websites, “.in” says that the website has a connection with India. There are scores of such domains.
Then comes the name of the resource that you need. Here “watch” is the webpage that you are seeking. If we see it in totality, “watch” is a webpage that is residing on a website called “youtube” in a domain “.com” on “www”
A question mark “?” signals the end of the entire domain name and beginning of the parameter list. Some webpages expect certain parameters to be passed on to them. This is necessary for the page to function properly.
The parameters are passed in a “key=value” format and parameters in the list are separated from each other by a character “&” (pronounced as “ampersand”)
So, in the above example, we are passing two parameters to the “watch” page. These parameters are:
[Notice that there is not a single space in the entire URL]
The first parameter is “v” whose value is “YR12Z8f1Dh8”
The second parameter is “feature” whose value is “relmfu”
Both the parameters are separated by “&”
This completes the URL. Although there are finer details associated with the structure of the URL –but I will stop here because I want this tutorial to be simple and bare minimum for the people who are not very tech-savvy.