A Web server is responsible for managing and delivering the content that an organization wishes to make available over the WWW. The Web server takes a large repository of information and makes it easily available to whomever wants to view it. This information can be in an almost endless number of different shapes, forms, and sizes. The most popular of which include HTML, text, images, audios, and movies.
The administrator is responsible for installing the Web server, doing initial configuration, performing on-going configuration, monitoring the accesses to the server, monitoring errors, organizing at a high level where the content is stored, answering questions from end-users, and ensuring that the security and integrity of the machine is not compromised. These tasks are in addition to normal service tasks like backing up data, ensuring the machine is operating correctly, and ensuring that it is accessible.
Generally, this task is handled by many different people. Content creators may be from the company's marketing department, graphic arts department, technical staff, project management, or individual employees. Many times, talents from all of these areas need to be combined in order to create the best content.
Content creators are responsible for deciding what goes on the Web server, creating the artwork, creating the HTML documents, organizing the information, making the content homogenous, keeping the content up-to-date, integrating existing or outside data with the Web server, and writing programs (scripts) that interact with browsers.
Notice that the descriptions of the administrators and content creators are quite different. It may not be easy to find one individual (or a set of individuals) that is well suited for both tasks.
On the WWW, a browser always initiates a conversation with a Web server. This happens every time someone clicks on a hyperlink in an HTML document or opens a new Uniform Resource Locator (URL). From the URL, the browser can determine which Web server to talk to. This is where the conversation begins. The browser asks that server for the document the user requested and also supplies some additional attributes about the request. This is the request. The most important part of the request is the document that is being requested. This takes the form of a URL-path.
The Web server accepts the conversation from the browser. Part of this, is receiving the URL-path. The server then decides what is being requested and how to handle the request. If everything is okay, the server sends back to the browser some attributes about what is being served, and then the server sends back the content of the document. Both sides then end the conversation.
It is important to note that there is no login process with HTTP nor is there an on-going conversation between browser and server. Unlike other Internet protocols such as FTP and Telnet, a user does not, in normal operation, provide a userid and password, or start a user-specific job on the server machine. Also, each browser request is treated as a single entity. So, if a browser needed to get several documents from the same server, the browser would initiate a separate request for each document.