Your browser and the files it handlesΒΆ

Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari - you’ve likely used one or more of these applications to get around on the web. They’re different from most of the other applications on your computer, in that most other applications are used to view and edit files that exist somewhere on your machine’s hard drive. Web browsers are used connect to other computers over a network and display the files from the remote computer’s drive.


You’ll often see the terms remote and local when talking about computers connected by a network. Local refers to the machine you’re operating, usually the laptop or desktop you’re sitting next to. Any computer that you can communicate with over the network can be referred to as remote.

The three main file types you’ll be concerned with as a budding web developer are HTML, CSS and JavaScript. Working with these files is termed “front-end” web development, because it deals with the “front” part of the web site; the part your visitors actually see.

All three of these types can be created and edited using nothing more than the text editor built into your computer (like Notepad). There are many text editors that make the job of editing these files easier by providing special highlighting. If you’re interested in using something with a few more features than your computer’s built-in editor, Notepad++ is an excellent free program for Windows and TextWrangler does a similar job for the Mac. You should avoid creating these files in a word processor, (like Microsoft Word) because they have a tendency to include all kinds of superfluous markup that can make maintaining your website more work that it needs to be.

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