The World Wide Web ("Web" from here on ) is a networked information system consisting of many active components which interchange information. The Web's architecture consists of:

  1. A single specification of the way in which objects in the system are identified: the Uniform Resource Identifier.
  2. Specifications of a small and nonexclusive set of protocols for interchanging information between components: HTTP comes to mind first, but SMTP and others are also important. Several of these protocols share a reliance on the MIME metadata/packaging system.
  3. Specifications of a nonexclusive set of data formats designed for interchange between components of the system. This includes several hardwired formats with limited extensibility but rich semantics (e.g. HTML, PNG), as well as family of markup languages with high extensibility and a universal naming scheme (XML and Namespaces).
  4. A very limited set of specifications of the required operations of certain of the software components of the system: HTML renderers and XML processors are two examples. The architecture strives to specify the minimal amount of behavior, leaving the functionality the Web can deliver open to the imagination of its creators.