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About Sessions

If you've read Chapter 21, “Instant Web Publishing,” you've already read some discussion of the concept of sessions. To recap briefly: The connection between a Web browser and the Web Publishing Engine is very much unlike the connection between a client copy of FileMaker and the FileMaker Server. FileMaker Server can at any time reach out and “push” data to any connected client. It knows at all times what its connected clients are, where they are in the system, and at what network address they can be found. A Web server, by contrast, retains no memory of a client from one connection to the next.

This is not a good thing for database work! I need my Web site to remember the contents of my shopping cart as I shop around the site. This is possible only with session management. Session management is generally a middleware feature. Web programming languages such as PHP and JSP offer the programmer different means of managing sessions. In general, under session management, each incoming Web request is associated with a key of some kind. The key may be passed in the URL (if you've ever seen a long ugly string like ?jsession=A9238Ajasdj9mAEd in a Web URL, odds are you're looking at a session key), or it may be passed behind the scenes in an HTTP cookie. (FileMaker's Custom Web Publishing session implementation lets you choose between these two methods.)


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