In this topic, we explore technology of 1990s to now and into the future. We look at HTTP, HTML, URI, and Moore’s Law.
World Web Web
The ability to network computers and computer systems led to major advancements in our ability to communicate, share, and work. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee, a software engineer and British researcher at the CERN physics lab in Geneva, Switzerland, changed our world when he invented the global network he called the World Wide Web (WWW). In his proposal, he outlined his vision which included a specific set of technical rules or specifications for the distribution of documents. He hoped it would be a global internet document center.
In 1990, he developed HyperText Markup Language (HTML), which specifies the markup formatting standards for web pages across the Internet. His markup language specified a format and structure for documents. Along with HTML, he created a rudimentary text-only browser, a software program used to access and read the Web documents. In order for a user to access a remote document somewhere in the world, the following protocols would need to be developed to locate and access the document:
- an identification or addressing scheme
- a communication protocol to define how machines would handle the request
He also created the Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) and HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Imagine you need to travel to a remote location to meet a business associate. You need to know the specific physical location in order to attend the meeting. The URI (also sometimes called the Uniform Resource Locator, or URL) provides a unique address of the location to access the specific information you want to see. Think of it like a physical address. In order to retrieve a specific web page on a website that you build, the viewer needs a link to the specific and unique Web address. This is the URI.
Now you have an address of the web page. How do you access it? How does your computer’s browser know how to head out onto this thing called the Web (or Internet) to find this address? There has to be a specific and unified set of rules for how these communications messages circulate around the world. HTTP is this set of rules, as it provides the protocol.
You will learn about HTML and how the Internet actually works in later courses.
Today, our computers are powerful. They enable us to run multiple programs, fetch and view documents all over the world, and communicate with one another in written, video, and audio formats over the Internet. These programs, whether as a standalone application or a web-based product, bring new challenges and opportunities for Software Professionals. Our role today is interactive, fast-paced, and ever-evolving. New technologies and improved toolsets all help us to do our jobs and provide more robust and versatile solutions for our customers.
Software powers the world. Our ability to master it, maximize its features and demand more from it can help advance our careers, capabilities, proficiency, and our world.
The core of our role, our purpose, is essentially the same as it has been from the beginning. We solve problems. Today, we use modern programming techniques and processes coupled with proven software principles to solve these problems.
Our programming roots began with instructions on punch cards. Imagine how hard it would be to write a program, hand it off to someone for conversion into the punch cards, and then wait for the computer operator to load it into the machine. Then, you would get a report stating whether or not your program worked. If the program did not work, you would go back, alter your code and repeat the process.
Incrementally, but also rapidly, the way we wrote programs and interacted with the machines evolved from punch cards to binary codes at the machine level, through various language constructs, and finally to the modern day.
What is the central theme of this walk through history?
Technology rapidly changes and software powers the world. Computers, systems, and languages grow at an amazing pace. The power of the computer doubles roughly every 18 months (Moore’s Law).
Your ability to master this field of software engineering and development opens the future to you, even beyond WordPress. Your role as a Software Professional empowers and entitles you to build software; that software may power a website or an application, it may be programmed in PHP or Ruby, and it may be for a content management system (CMS) like WordPress or for a specific framework like Rails, Laravel, or Symfony.
Hands off the keyboard. Web development starts by thinking first, then planning it out, and then coding it.
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