Internet - Software Trends

rends in browser software

Browser technology has changed over the years. Originally, browser software could only display simple text, which could be broken up by using paragraphs and headings; today, browser software supports style sheets, graphics, multimedia, live streaming and now Flash animation.

The original WWW was only designed to display text. The early years of the Internet saw users downloading and displaying simple text documents.

In 1993, a new type of browser was created, called Mosaic, which set the future trends in browser technology. Mosaic could handle graphics, but even more importantly, it could also handle other Internet services, such as e-mail and newsgroups, features that we now take for granted.

Mosaic also introduced a means of opening multiple Internet connections, which reduced download time, giving faster Internet access.

Netscape Navigator 2 arrived in 1995, incorporating new HTML features, such as frames and client-side image maps. [Image maps allow the author to set up hyperlinks from inside an image.]

More importantly, Navigator 2 had Java support. Java is a computer language used to create computer programs, which can be run on the Internet. These computer programs are run on the client’s browser and often need extra software, which has to be downloaded and plugged in (plug ins). Navigator 2 also contained a method of sending secure information, such as credit card numbers, over the Internet. This is called the Secure Socket Layer. Navigator 2 also contained authoring software, which allowed users to edit and create HTML scripts.

The third generation of browser saw many improvements in the technology. The trend was toward style sheets, which allowed web authors to break free from the design limitations that were inherent in previous versions. With style sheets, web pages could display a number of different fonts and styles.

Internet Explorer 3 introduced Jscript and ActiveX. Jscript was Microsoft’s version of JavaScript, while Microsoft ActiveX allowed web pages to contain embedded Windows-based applications.

The next major development was the incorporation of broadcasting media. This changed the way that the Internet worked. Previously, the Internet required the user to pull web pages from the server. The introduction of broadcasting media required the server to push media to the user. Fourth-generation browsers supported such media subscription channels. At regular intervals, these download information to the clients’ computer systems.

Cascading style sheets (CSS) and Dynamic HTML (DHML) led to the development of Netscape Communicator and Internet Explorer 4. Internet Explorer 4 was integrated with Windows Explorer, creating Active Desktop, which could make the desktop appear and act as a browser.

[Cascading style sheets are an HTML facility that enable a standard visual identity for multiple web pages. They now form a core part of most web-authoring applications. DHTML is a combination of HTML, JavaScript and CSS that enables dynamic behaviour on a web page.]

Browser families

There are four main families:

•   Gecko
•   Microsoft
•   Netscape.

Gecko - Gecko-based Browsers include AOL.

KHTML - KHTML-based Browsers include Safari.

Microsoft - Microsoft Internet Explorer currently has about 85% of the browser market. Internet Explorer 5 and 6 are currently the most popular of the browsers.

Netscape - Netscape Navigator 4.5 makes up about 2% of the browser market. Originally, Navigator was the most popular of all browsers, but the introduction of a free browser on Windows 98 sparked a dramatic (and legally contested) change in the market


Originally, browsers supported only text documents. First-generation browsers supported:

•   graphics
•   different Internet services.

Second-generation browsers supported:

•   HTML 3
•   frames
•   image mapping
•   Java
•   plug-ins
•   SSL encryption.

Third-generation browsers supported:

•  style sheets
•  metadata
•  JavaScript and Microsoft JScript
•  ActiveX.

Fourth-generation browsers supported:

•  data pushing (subscription services)
•  offline browsing
•  channels
•  Active Desktop
•  cross-browser scripting (which allows programs to be run in different types of browser).

Fifth-generation browsers supported:

•  communications
•  WAP.

Current trends in security software

•  Encryption.
•  Secure Socket Layer (SSL).



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