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CGI Beginners

Home : Knowledge Base : CGI Beginners : Files

Why Use CGI Scripts?

An ideal site should be attractive, should interact with your vistors, and should be clean. (Clean meaning: easy to read, easy to follow, and most importantly easy to navigate.) Those few things can be the difference between visitors coming back again and again or never coming back at all. CGI Scripts can change a very simple web site to a site that is valuable to it's visitors. A Web site that visitors can interact with by posting onto a discussion forum, give reviews, or try product demos, make sites favorable and benefit the visitor.

Dynamic pages interact with the visitor. This can be as simple as a guest book which enables visitors to comment on your site or could also include such things as a shopping cart to purchase products or a membership management script to provide access to particular information. The best way to produce results like these is with CGI scripts.

Scripts come in many different formats such as JavaScript, VBScript, ActiveX, Active Server Pages (ASP), Java Applets, JavaBeans, CGI and others. JavaScripts can do some things, however they have limitations and can only work on the client-side. In other words, the scripts are interpreted and run in the browser of the user. CGI scripts, on the other hand, will directly interact with the server, where your whole web site resides, simply they are server-side. Since it works from your server you can take control over the scripts which are running by using other server files (for example the sendmail program of Unix). JavaScripts don't access any of your other files, (for example you cannot access a database which is in your server). JavaScripts are simply inserted into your HTML pages, which can be run by the browser.

Netscape browsers don't support VBScripts and ActiveX, so are not usually used by the typical web user. Another technology like ASP can be used instead of CGI but only in a Windows-NT server as UNIX servers do not support them. Java applets can also be used, however speed can be a problem so many users prefer CGI scripts.
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