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Hour 12. Designing Forms for User Feedback > Understanding How Forms Work

Understanding How Forms Work

Although you probably fill out forms on the Web all the time, it's unlikely that you've given serious consideration to how the information gets from a form on a Web page to an e-mail address. There are many different ways to get your Web page to e-mail you the contents of a form, but they all work in a similar manner. After a visitor completes your form, he clicks a Submit button at the bottom of the page that sends the information from the completed form to a CGI on the Web server. CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface and is a standard protocol used by programs to handle form data. That's why CGIs are referred to as server-side programming. After the CGI receives the information from the form, it processes that data and e-mails it to you. You could also use a CGI to add the information to a database or complete an e-commerce purchase, but sending the results to an e-mail address is the most common option. This process is illustrated in Figure 12.1.

Figure 12.1. Data moving from a Web page to a CGI on a Web server to an e-mail address.



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