Files and Directories

Files are used to store arbitrary data on a filesystem which is organized as a hierarchy of directories. A directory is a container for files as well as subdirectories and may also contain certain other types of files such as symbolic links or device special files, but this depends on the operating system and/or filesystem. The path to a particular file or directory starts from the root directory, denoted by /, and is composed of path components that are the names of intervening directories along the way down, separated by /. The final component is denoted as the basename of the desired file or directory.

Within this documentation, the path to a file or directory is often denoted as the name of a file or directory, and the path to a file is simply called to be its filename.

Syntax of Filenames

One consequence of the platform independent design of w3browse is that path components of filenames and directories must always be separated by forward slashes (/), e.g.


Backslashes (\), as used on MS-Windows, are not recognized as path separators and may cause unexpected behavior. The ubiquitous drive letters can be used on that platform and should be specified as the first path component of a filename or directory, e.g.


The "/" in the last line of the example demonstrates the emulation of a virtual root directory that contains all known logical drives as subdirectories.

It is best pratice to end a directory name with a slash (/). This avoids some confusions that may arise on platforms where symbolic links are supported.

Shortcuts to Directories

There are certain directory shortcuts available that denote special locations. Using them makes references independent of the concrete location of files and directories. These shortcuts are only recognized when they are used at the start of a file or directory name.

The home directory of the current user.
The directory where the executables of the application are located.
The directory that contains the data files of the application, this is usually the installation directory. It has the same value as ~bin/ in the current installation mode.

All shortcuts end in a slash (/) before and after expansion, e.g. ~/ may expand to /home/Alex/ or /c:/documents and settings/alex/, depending on the system and its configuration.