Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

3.14. What is that strange notation used to indicate file location, or what's a URL?

Uniform resource locators (URLs) are notations for giving the location of objects on the Internet--files, Usenet newsgroups, Telnet sites, and other tools and resources. URL's provide simple, easy-to-read one-liners showing how you can access services on the Net.

URLs, besides being easy for us humans to read, are also simple for computers to understand. If you use World Wide Web (WWW) or other online hypertext tools, you'll often find buttons that do something when pressed--run a program, download a file, Telnet to a certain site, or whatever. Those buttons are linked to URLs: press the button, and the URL associated with it is involved. Use of URLs grew primarily out of the WWW project.

For instance, an online file can be indicated with a URL in the following ways:

Other resources may be indicated by URLs like this:

The part of the URL before the colon specifies the access method (such as via Telnet, FTP, or Gopher). The part of the URL after the colon tells what that access method should do, connect to, or display. In general, two slashes after the colon indicate a site name.

Table of Contents | Previous Section | Next Section