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View Source - The Webs Unsung Hero


John Norton - Expert Author

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Web Design

If you put your cursor here and click on your right mouse button, you’ll probably see amongst the list of items which appear, the words “View Source” or “View Page Source”. Click on them. Go on it won’t hurt. You should see a page of text in different colours which looks a bit like the picture below.

For most of you it will be almost all gobbledegook, but for some it will make complete sense. Those multi-coloured strange words and numbers are the code which causes this page to appear on your screens in this nice layout and easy to read script. So what? I hear you ask. We’ll the important thing is that you can see it and copy bits of it. You can’t do the same with Word or Angry Birds or any other piece of commonly used software, and that fact I believe is one of the keys to the World Wide Web’s massive success.

Back in the late nineties it’s how I learnt to create web pages, and along with one “for dummies” book, was able to create complex database driven web sites within a few weeks. Even today if I see something I’ve not seen before on a web site I’ll still have a look at how it’s been done. I’m sure a whole generation of web programmers have done the same thing right back to the first commercially available browsers.

This ability to look under the hood of the any web page and understand how it was created enabled interested people to very quickly learn how to create their own pages and underpinned the huge explosion of interest we see in “coding” today. Many of today’s App developers probably had their first taste of development by experimenting with web design, and copying and editing other pages would have been one of their primary learning tools.

Strictly speaking it’s a breach of copyright and I’m not advocating wholesale plagiarism, but whilst some were concerned about their work being copied, happily for all of us many more were happy to pass on their own knowledge, and although it’s been possible to make it much more difficult to view web page source code for many years, few people have ever bothered. The same open approach has now been adopted across many, probably most, software projects. WordPress, Linux and Android are all “Open Source” meaning that their code is freely available and can be modified by anyone for their own use.

So while the key reason for the success of the internet is probably that from the beginning many of it’s tools have been available for free, I think the fact that it has been so easy to view and re-use it’s basic building blocks has also had a major impact on it’s past growth and on the continuing success of the interconnected world which is developing today.

About the Author

John Norton, is a senior business and finance professional with a big four, blue chip, software and technology background, and board level leadership experience in finance, IT, operations, customer service and general management.

He is owner of No Worry Web, which creates and manages small business web sites and social media presence, for an all-inclusive monthly fee. For further details see or call 0845 5191 275.

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2013-10-04 14:10:20 in Computer Articles

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