What Web Servers Do

* Return files located by Universal Resource Locators (URL's) using the Hypertext Transport Protocol (HTTP).
These files documents are usually formatted using the Hypertext Markup Language (HTML).
* Decide who can have files and who cannot (security).
Also in the topic of security is a draft specification for secure HTTP, and information from NCSA on using encryption in the HTTP protocol.
* Use the MIME standard for file types to determine how to transfer files. Here is the MIME specification.
* Execute programs and scripts using the CGI protocol.
CGI is generally accessed through forms, which can be used for email or gateways such as with WAIS, for example.
* Provide support for image mapping. Here is an imagemap tutorial from Caltech, and another
imagemap tutorial from NCSA.
* Act as a proxy for clients behind a firewall. Here's another firewall FAQ.
* The CERN server is capable is of caching when used as a proxy.

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