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Chapter 28. Programming CGI Scripts > CGI and the World Wide Web

CGI and the World Wide Web

By providing a standard interface, the CGI specification enables developers to use a variety of programming tools. CGI programs work the magic behind processing forms, looking up records in a database, sending email, building on-the-fly pages—and page counters—and dozens of other activities. Without CGI and its other server-side cousins, such as Active Server Pages or Java servlets, your Web site can have no memory that spans multiple users and multiple hits. With server-side processing, all the functionality that depends on having such persistent data becomes possible.

The Common Gateway Interface (CGI) is a standard method for a Web browser and a CGI program running on a Web server to communicate. Strictly speaking, CGI defines a way for the Web server and the CGI program to "talk." The CGI program can be in any of quite a few programming languages; what makes it a CGI program is the way it receives information from the Web server and sends information back. The CGI program does not communicate with the browser directly. The browser talks with the server, the server talks with the CGI program, and the server talks back to the browser.


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