The Internet is a collection of different types of computer hardware talking to each other. The challenge is to get those different types of hardware to speak to each other. Protocols are sets of rules about how IT equipment should talk to each other. To develop Web pages you do not need to understand the protocols which get the pages to the user but some idea of what happens might come in useful. For example:

The three protocols in this example work together to get Web pages from Web servers to Web browsers:

  1. The browser follows the HTTP rules to create a request for a specific page
  2. That request is processed by client networking software (following TCP rules) to create packets ready to travel over the Internet
  3. Source and destinations addresses are added to each packet by software following the IP rules
  4. Each packet is guided around the Internet by routers which understand the IP rules (packets may travel by many different routes and get there at different times
  5. Each packet is received by networking software at the destination (IP)
  6. The packets are collected back together and when they are all there the data is passed to the Web server
  7. The HTTP software (e.g. Apache or IIS) receives and understands the request for a page and sends it to the computer which requested it following the HTTP rules
  8. TCP and IP are used to get the page to the system which requested it where the browser then receives the pageWeb page download as graphic

There are many other protocols in use on the Internet. Ignoring hardware protocols the most common are probably: