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What is a URL? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 What Is a URL?
  • 0:48 What Is a Web Browser?
  • 1:30 Parts of a URL
  • 2:46 Security and URLs
  • 3:41 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kent Beckert

Kent is an adjunct faculty member for the College of Business at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and has a Master's degree in Technical Management.

In this lesson, you'll learn about the uniform resource locator (URL) and how it can be used to identify the difference between a secured and an unsecured website. You'll also find out how to construct and deconstruct a URL.

What is a URL?

Choosing a destination for our next vacation often includes scouting out a location. At its most sophisticated, the process could involve using latitude and longitude values on a map to pinpoint the vacation locale, or a mapping service, such as Google Maps. Instead of latitude and longitude, or even a street address, websites on the World Wide Web rely on an Internet Protocol address or a uniform resource locator, which can help us locate a particular destination on the Internet. A uniform resource locator (URL) is a type of uniform resource identifier (URI). Entry of the URL and accessing a Web page is accomplished using a Web browser.

What is a Web Browser?

A web browser is a software application used to display the contents of online Web pages. Regardless of the browser we're using, we can enter the URL that corresponds to our desired website in the address bar or window. Address bars can typically be found at the top of a Web browser's window. Address bars are different from search boxes in that the latter does not require the exact Internet address of a website. Some sites may allow us to access a second web page by way of an embedded hyperlink. Such an action will direct the browser to access the hyperlinked URL, and at the same time, update the URL inside the browser's address window and reflect the new page.

Parts of a URL

In 1994, Tim Berners-Lee, in partnership with members of an Internet Engineering Task Force working group, combined several pre-existing protocol formats to develop the structure of today's URLs. Let's look at a representation of a standard URL, along with an explanation of each reference.

Full URL: http://www.cnn.com/world

The 'http' stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol. The 'www' refers to the World Wide Web, an information system of computer programs, or servers, that provide access to audio, document-based, graphic, and video files. The 'cnn' is the name of the domain, or the location of a website. In this case, the name of the domain is the Cable News Network (CNN). The 'com' indicates that the website has some kind of commercial purpose. Other URLs with an educational or governmental intent might use 'edu' or 'gov' at the end of their Web address. The 'world' found at the end of a URL refer to the subdirectory, or a directory within a directory, in a website.

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