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Website last up-dated 2019-11-11

Tim Cliffe - Blog

How to Make the Web Run Faster

Yes, you can help to make the web faster, for everyone, simply by knowing a basic fact about how the web works. It's all in the oblique, i.e., / (aka forward-slash).

 

If everyone, who uses the web, made one simple and quick change to the way they use URLs (web site addresses), the web would work faster, for everyone.

URLs and the Oblique

Image of a globe with network connections and a speed controller.

 

Have you noticed, if you copy a URL, such as http://www.timcliffe.uk and then paste it into your browser, when the web site is displayed, the URL becomes http://www.timcliffe.uk/ (note the / at the end of .uk)?

 

The same works if you copy the URL http://www.timcliffe.uk/blog and then paste that into your browser, you get http://www.timcliffe.uk/blog/

Why, and What Difference Does It Make?

The simple answer is... web directories.

 

http://www.timcliffe.uk/ and http://www.timcliffe.uk/blog/ are web directories, and web servers work faster if a web directory's URL ends with /.

How is that Possible?

When you enter, www.timcliffe.uk/blog into your browser the first thing the server does is look for a file with the same URL, in this example, that would be blog.html. When it doesn't find one, it then looks for a directory. When it finds a directory with the same URL, the server effectively executes, what is called, a redirect and adds / to the end of the URL and then goes to the directory and returns the index document.

So, How Will That Make The Web Faster?

In the above example, the server needs to look for the URL twice, if you omit the trailing /.

 

If you include the trailing / for domains and directory URLs, you are reducing the number of look-ups by 50%. If everyone, who uses the web, includes the trailing / every time they should, hundreds of millions of look-ups will not be necessary, every single day.

 

That's how you can make the web faster, for everyone.

Genesis of the World Wide Web

Tim Berners-Lee, then at CERN, submitted a proposal (Access the W3C website Tim Berners-Lee proposal page (External link, opens in a new tab/window)), dated March 1989, that would be the genesis of the World Wide Web.

 

The original WorldWideWeb browser (Access the CERN website CERN 2019 WorldWideWeb Rebuild page (External link, opens in a new tab/window)) has been re-created at CERN, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the web.

What is the Difference Between the Internet and the World Wide Web?

Firstly, the Internet was created before the World Wide Web.

 

The Internet is a global network of connected computers.

 

The World Wide Web uses the Internet to make information available via hyperlinks using a system called HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP), or HTTPS, which is the secure (encrypted) version used in e-commerce.

 

A more detailed description is available here (Access the Techopedia website Difference Between the Internet and the World Wide Web page (External link, opens in a new tab/window)).
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