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Chapter 22. Cookies and State Maintenance > The Trouble with Stateless HTTP

The Trouble with Stateless HTTP

Most Web servers have very short memories. When you request a page, the server usually doesn't really know who you are, what you entered on a form three pages ago, or whether this is your first visit to the site or your 75th. One of the challenges of using the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is that it doesn't track the state of your interactions with the server. State refers to any information about you or your visit to a Web site. It is maintained as you move from page to page within the site, and it can be used by the Web server or a JavaScript program (or both) to customize your experience at the site. But if HTTP doesn't maintain the state, what does?

This chapter shows you how to get around HTTP's limitations by using cookies, URL query string parameters, and hidden form variables. Although the bulk of this chapter deals with cookies, time is spent investigating other techniques, as well as where and how they can best be used.


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