Practical Guides for Beginners

1 Starting and closing Firefox

Mozilla Firefox, or Firefox, is a modern web browser. The generic term 'web browser' simply means a program that is made for a particular purpose, e.g. surfing the Web.

This chapter demonstrates the difference between opening and closing

a) the web browser named Firefox, and

b) a new web page in Firefox.

You'll also become acquainted with the representation style of the chapters in this guide.

1     Start Firefox.

       After a while the window in Figure 1-1 will appear:

As the program starts a so-called default page will normally open as well. Here the default page is the home page of Mozilla Corporation. Your computer may display a different page depending on its default page settings.

      Now the default page shown when starting a web browser is a thing that can be changed. In doing so you can also choose the alternative in which only a blank page is shown. This is often advisable because if there's some problem with a page used as default, the web browser will not open a problematic page without success and waste your time in doing so.

       Now let's look at how to change the default page.

2     Choose Tools > Options... as shown in Figure 1-3 below:

The Options window appears.

3     Choose the option General in the list on the left.

4     Click the button Use Blank Page.

5     Click OK button.

6    Click the Home Page button on the Navigation Bar as shown in
Figure 1-5 above.

      Now only a blank page is shown in the browser. 

Next we want to close the browser. Figure 1-7 below shows two ways to close the browser.

7     Close the browser.

8     Start Firefox again.

      We can now see that a blank page is used as the default page.

We'll now try to get another home page to be displayed in the browser. It's well known that the home page of the New York Public Library can be achieved using the following string:

(For example, it may be printed on a magazine or a brochure perhaps.) So let's try that for an exercise.

9    Type the string '' into the Location Box as shown in
Figure 1-9 below and press Enter.

        A new page is displayed in the browser window:

Here we see the home page of the New York Public Library (they change the content of the page now and then, so the page you see may be a little different from the one shown above).

When you pressed Enter, the browser sent a request to the web server of NYPL. This web server is a program running on a computer somewhere, maybe in the City of New York. Also stored on that computer is the home page of NYPL.

The web server constantly listens to the traffic on the Net, and when it receives your browser's request, it studies it and performs the service required.  Here it fetched the home page and sent a response back to the web browser. That response partly included sending the home page. The browser took the home page out of the response and displayed it on your screen.


You may have noticed that the Location Box currently shows the string

In other words the beginning 'http://' and the slash '/' was added to the originally typed string. These additions are made by the browser because it knows what needs to be done and the additional parts are needed for a successful request.

The string '' is the web address of the home page of NYPL. It is also called the URL( Uniform Resource Locator) of the home page of NYPL.

Now every web page (i.e. every home page and other kinds of web pages) on the Net has its own and unique URL. The URL enables a web browser to obtain and a web server return the desired page.

So the web browser corrected the string typed originally to a proper URL, although it doesn't hurt to type the URL without the beginning 'http://' and the slash '/' at the end. However, by adding the slash yourself you can get the response from the server a little quicker as there is then less work involved for the browser and server in finding the requested page.

The slash at the end actually denotes the root folder of the web server. When no other web page is given in the request, the web server returns the home page stored in the root folder as default.

The part 'http://' at the beginning of the URL indicates which protocol is to be used in the communication between the web browser and the web server. The two slashes are needed when trying to contact a server.

So with the help of a web browser you can view web pages which are available 'on the Net'. In order to get a page to your browser you can use the so-called URLs. We saw two such URLs, namely:        (Mozilla Corporation)                         (The New York Public Library)

It is often sufficient merely to type a piece of the actual URL as we did above when typing '' instead of ''. The browser knows what is needed and adds the missing parts.      

Sometimes the browser will show the 'www.' immediately after the colon and two slashes, sometimes not. It depends on how the web server is configured. You can also type the string 'www.' yourself, it makes no difference. Try for example the string ''.

Note: Often it's needed to type the 'www.' at the beginning for a successful request. 

There's more about URLs in the chapter 'Some basic terms'. Here in this chapter we'll concentrate on getting a page into a browser.

10  Try other URLs if you like. There are many web addresses to be found in newspapers and magazines for example.



To open and close Firefox is fairly simple. You'll get more accustomed to it in the chapters to come.

       Firefox is one of the programs generally called web browsers.

       With a web browser you can view web pages stored on the Net.

       This chapter gave you an illustration of the representation style in this guide. Things are explained by doing the exercises.



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