|Grant delivered the "Writing and Editing for the Web" course as part of Simon Fraser University's Writing and Publishing Program.|
Internet Basics: A Server is Like a Chef
By Grant Pasay
Ever watch the chefs in a restaurant kitchen? They have all the ingredients just sitting there waiting to be combined and sent out in one nice presentation on a plate to your table.
Thats what a server is like.
A server is really just a computer thats been set up to deliver its contents over the Internet to the people that come its way. For example, if you want to go to the website mywebsite.com, the individual webpages that make up that website are saved as files on a computer somewhere. That computer is a server. So you type mywebsite.com into your browser, and what happens? The mywebsite.com website appears!
True, but some other stuff happened first.
First, when you typed in mywebsite.com, your browser sent out a request over the Internet that found its way to the server where the mywebsite.com files are saved (the unique domain name, mywebsite.com, is what found the server).
Then, just like a chef, the server receives the order and starts putting together everything required to fill that particular order. If the file you requested is just a good old webpage, not too much has to be done.
But if thats a database-driven webpage, then the server has to get a bunch of information from a database on the server first, then stick it into the webpage in all the right places, and then its ready to go. Just like in a restaurant, each request is different and the server has to combine everything into one package, then send it out to you.
In this case, the server sends all the information back to your browser, which makes sure you see the webpage as its supposed to look.
The same holds true for email. If you use software like Eudora or Outlook Express to open your email, youve actually sent a request to an email server where all your incoming messages have been waiting for you. The server sees your request for your new emails, and it sends those files to your email software, and voila!, there they are.
And thats why a server is like a chef.
Copyright © Grant Pasay 2005. All rights reserved. You may forward this article in its entirety (including author bio/links) to anyone you wish.
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