We all know what is happening on top of the big websites, the part that is visible to the public. It’s all about great content and user interaction. But did you ever wonder what is under the hood? What are the tools and technologies that support big websites and make the magic come together?
In this article, I will introduce you to five of the most influential technologies used to power websites today. I have to admit up front that this list will vary, depending on what type of websites you look at. For my list I deliberately ignored some obvious and rather well known tools and technologies, including WordPress, Disqus, or some coding languages (HTML, PHP, CSS). What is left over, is the real ‘magic’, i.e. the kind of stuff that few of us ever have to deal with.
Apache HTTP Server (short: Apache) is a public-domain open source web server software. It’s available for Unix, Windows, and other operating systems. Being a platform for web servers, Apache handles the distribution of website and related services. In fact, the majority of websites available online rely on Apache HTTP Server.
- FreeBSD Handbook: Apache HTTP Server
- Wikipedia: Apache HTTP Server
- The Best Linux Web Server Software (& Apache Alternatives
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Google Analytics analyzes website traffic and user demographics. It helps websites optimize their content, ads, and marketing. It’s a tool predominantly used to increase website revenue.
Open Graph enables websites to be integrated into the social graph. The social graph depicts relationships on the World Wide Web. Websites use Open Graph to analyze relationships between objects, such as photos or pages. Open Graph Protocol is a Facebook API and despite its name it is closed source.
Facebook Insights is yet another tool to analyze website traffic. It reveals how content is consumed, user demographics, and user growth. The service is provided free to all Facebook page owners and platform developers. Facebook Insights is used by websites who connect to their users through Facebook, allow them to share content, and provide services, such as downloads or contests via Facebook.
So how did I come by this list? First of all, I used a page that was recently profiled on the MakeUseOf Directory. Under the Site reveals the technologies hidden under the GUI of any website you throw at it. I analyzed the following ten pages: Digg, The Daily WTF, CNet, Wired, TechCrunch, CNN, BBC, CraigsList, Wikipedia, and IMDB. In the next step I picked the most common and/or most interesting technologies listed for those sites.
Image credits: photobank.kiev.ua