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Understanding Web File Extensions

Websites are built using many files and file types. A single website will not use all the extensions listed below, however, knowing the various file types by their extensions and their uses is helpful when deciding what type of website to build and how to build it. Scripting and programming languages are embedded into the html or xhtml coding. A scripting language can be combined with a programming language in a particular file, such as ASP and JavaScript. Two compiled languages, such as ASP and ColdFusion, typically cannot be combined because they require separate compilers.

Basic Web Page Coding Extensions

.html - Hypertext Markup Language: Basic web pages are coded in html, or more recently, xhtml (Extensible Hypertext Markup Language)

.htm - Adapted for the Windows/DOS Operating System  which required 3-character extensions

index.html / index.htm / default.asp / default.aspx - First page of a website

.xml - Extensible Markup Language: Used for data-interchange such as rss feeds

Graphic Extensions

.gif - CompuServer Image: Use for logos and other graphics that contain minimal colors

.jpg - JPEG: Use for photographs and other images that contain many colors

.png - Portable Network Graphic: Newer web graphic format. Better compression, color, and transparency, however, older browsers will not read .png files

.swf - Small Web Format: The (published) web file used for flash animation / flash movies

Scripting and Programming (Compiled) Extensions

.asp - Active Server Pages: Default.asp is used instead of index.html for the first page of the website. Runs on various Windows operating systems and connects to Microsoft Access, SQL, and MySQL databases.

.aspx - ASP.NET: Aspx is the successor to asp and runs on the newer Windows operating systems

.cfml / .cfm - ColdFusion Markup Language: Built using the ColdFusion server-side content management tool and connects to Microsoft Access, SQL, and MySQL databases

.cgi - Common Gateway Interface: Used to execute server side programs and can be written in Perl, C, Python, etc. and are typically found in the /cgi-bin directory

.js - JavaScript: JavaScript coding can be embedding directly into the html coding, or, it can be in a separate file that is referenced in the html

.pl - Practical Extraction and Report Language / Perl: A CGI programming language designed for processing text

.php / php3 - PHP: Web scripting program which runs on either Linux or Windows as long as the PHP compiler is installed

.shtml / .shtm - Server Side Includes / SSI: HTML pages built using include files which run on web server must have SSI turned on

As the web evolves, new products become available, so tomorrow you may find a new extension!

Posted on July 31, 2009 | Permalink | Join email list

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