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Temporary Customer Sessions

Sometimes Web servers remember customers for a short period of time, usually until the customer closes the Web browser. Temporary customer sessions are useful when a Web site needs to maintain only short-lived information about customers, such as what items are in the customers' SHOPPING CART (F3) or which part of the QUICK-FLOW CHECKOUT (F1) they're in.

There are two ways of implementing temporary customer sessions. Session IDs temporarily store the identity of a customer in Web addresses. The session ID is usually a long, nonsensical string, such as http://www.website.com?sessionid=$qoijlgsk185794q$. This string is passed along in every page the customer sees, but it is discarded when the customer leaves the site. Session cookies also temporarily store the identity of a person. When a customer closes his or her Web browser, however, the session cookie is deleted, making it impossible to track people over long periods of time. The chief difference between session IDs and session cookies is that session cookies are sent to Web servers through HTTP, instead of through the Web address. For all practical purposes, though, the two are equivalent when used to implement temporary customer sessions.


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