In this era of the internet it is hardly possible if someone has not heard the term- ‘web browser’. As a user or a web developer or any other frequent user knowing the functioning of the internet is a must. Therefore, in this article, we will read about the term web browser in detail. So, let’s get started.
What is a Web Browser?
A web browser is a software application that is used to access the world wide web(www) or as known by everyone on the Internet. It is an interface between us and the information available on the web.
This information might be pictures, audio, videos, or some other files that are shown on our screens through a web page.
The web browser can be called a client program as it requests the webserver for the information demanded by the user. Some of the common browsers are Google, Mozilla Firefox, Safari, internet explorer, Netscape Navigator, etc.
Let us dive deeper into the article to know more about the web browser.
How does a browser work?
The whole process of gathering information begins with the user when it enters the URL of the desired website in the address bar. The browser is a part of the client-server model where it plays the part of the client.
It sends requested information to the web server through HTTP- hypertext transfer protocol. Once the request is received, the server gathers the related information it forwards it through web pages.
When a URL is entered, supposedly artoftesting.com the web browser first requests the DNS (Domain name server) the IP address of the artoftesting.com. The DNS is a phonebook of the internet and therefore, it stores the system names and their corresponding IP addresses.
Next, once the IP address is found the address is used to request the servers of ‘artOfTesting’ website for the content. This is then fulfilled and displayed on the client’s screen.
Element of a Web Browser
The web browser is made of 7 main components that work in sync to make the web browser function-able. These are-
1. User Interface
The user interface is the first page that you see when you open the web browser. This page has the address bar, forward/ backward button, menu, bookmarking option, and a few more options.
2. Browser Engine
The browser engine acts as an interface between the rendering engine and the UI of the browser. Based on the input, it manipulated the rendering engine to provide output.
3. Rendering engine
The rendering engine is responsible for producing requested content to the browser and displaying it on the screen. It parses the HTML documents and then converts them to readable form. All the browsers we know have their own rendering engines.
- The safari uses WebKit.
- Chrome and Opera use Blink ( fork of WebKit).
- Internet explored use Trident.
- Firefox uses Gecko.
The WebKit is an open-source rendering engine and was made for Linux. It has been modified the Apple to support mac and windows too.
The network layer is responsible for security and communication on the internet. It is also used for HTTP requests and to cache the documents retrieved in order to reduce network traffic.
5. UI Backend
It is for drawing basic boxes and windows/ widgets. This is for a generic interface and independent of any specific platform. Behind all this, it uses an Operating system for UI methods.
7. Data persistence
Data persistence or storage is for saving the data locally, like cookies. The browsers support storage mechanisms like IndexedDB, WebSQL, File System, etc. to store databases locally on your computer. This way user data is handled like cache, bookmarks, cookies, etc.
Features of a Web Browser
Some of the features of the web browser include-
- Home button – Clicking the ‘Home’ button brings the user directly back to the home page of the browser. We can set any webpage as the home page. Usually people prefer to have search engines like – Google.com as their home page.
- Address bar – The address bar is where the URL of the desired website is entered. This bar helps us to navigate to the desired website of our choice.
- Refresh button – The refresh button is to reload the page. In some cases, the page locally stores and saves the information. This prevents users from seeing the updated information. Therefore, the refresh button is helpful in such cases.
- Bookmarks – This option is to save a particular website for reference later in the future. It is used to mark pages that might be important or prove to be useful in the future.
- Tabbed browsing – This feature helps to open new screens on the same browser for multiple browsing at the same time.
Popular Web Browsers
Google Chrome is the most popular and used web browser. There is a high chance you are using it yourself right now. The reason behind its popularity is its speed. It is one of the fastest browsers – opens and loads quickly, the search results are retrieved within seconds. Another reason might be its simple and easy-to-use UI.
Although safari is specially created for apple users it can be used on PCs as well. However, its uniqueness can only be seen on Mac or Apple devices. It is a cross-compatible software and can integrate your data on multiple platforms. Another fascinating feature is iCloud keychain that lets you access your passwords saved on your apple device.
This one is another popular choice among users. Although people have always preferred this one as an option due to its speed. It takes much more time than chrome or safari.
The opera is also one of the commonly used browsers. It has its own range of add-on extensions that you might need to check out. It also can be synced among multiple devices. So do not miss out on this one.
This one comes pre-installed on Windows 10 devices. This was developed to replace internet explorer and thus acts as a default browser. It is gaining popularity because of its new rendering feature, easy-to-use UI, freestyle writing over webpage displays, and much more.
Kingpin – The reason this software is gaining popularity is because of its security feature. This browser always works in incognito mode, and thus no worries of browsing getting exposed. Fascinating, isn’t it?
Now that you have read enough about web browsers, which will you choose?
There are several web browsers available in the market and you can choose either one or all of them. It all depends on what are your needs. For example, if you are looking for a private network, choose Kingpin or Iridium. So, you can give try to all of them and then stick to the ones you want.
Kuldeep is the founder and lead author of ArtOfTesting. He is skilled in test automation, performance testing, big data, and CI-CD. He brings his decade of experience to his current role where he is dedicated to educating the QA professionals. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.