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Server Components

The original concept of the World Wide Web was very simple. Web servers stored pages coded in HTML in their filesystems. These pages could be retrieved by browsers using HTTP. The URL of a page was simply the hostname of the server plus the filename of the document.[5] Later, it was realized that HTML Web pages could be produced by programs as well as stored as files. In this mode, the URL specifies the hostname of the server, the name of the program to be run, and possibly some arguments for that program. In the most general case, a Web server is free to attach any interpretation at all to a URL and to use any mechanism to create and return the page contents to the browser.

[5] Actually, Tim Berners-Lee's original concept of the Web included the ability to create, update, and annotate content from the desktop—capabilities that have only recently become common.

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI)

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) defines a standard interface between a Web server and an independent application program that is responsible for some portion of the URL namespace. These applications are sometimes called gateways because one of the first uses of CGI was to create gateways between the Web and a variety of existing applications. CGI has also served as the interface for entirely new applications designed for the Web but not integrated directly into a Web server.


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