The Common Gateway Interface is a standard way for a Web Server to pass a Web User requests to an application program and to receive data back to the user. When the user requests a Web page (for example, by clicking on a highlighted word), the Server sends back the requested page. However, when a user fills out a form on a web page and clicks "Send", it needs to be processed by an application or program. The Web Server typically passes the form information to a program that processes the data. This particulate method for passing data back and forth between the Server and the application is called the common gateway interface (CGI). It is part of the Web's Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
If you are creating a website and want to use or call a CGI program, you can specify the name of the application in the (URL) "Uniform Resource Locator" that you code in the HTML page. This URL can be specified as part of the FORM Tags if you are creating a form.
For example, you might code:
<FORM METHOD="POST" ACTION="https://rshweb.info/cgi-bin/formprog.pl">
The server at "rshweb.info" would pass control to the CGI application called "formprog.pl" to record the entered data and return a confirmation message. (The ".pl" indicates a program written in PERL, but other languages could have been used.)
The common gateway interface provides a consistent way for data to be passed from the user's request to the application program and back to the user. This means that the person who writes the application program can make sure it gets used no matter which operating system the server uses (PC, Macintosh, UNIX, and others). It is simply a basic way for information to be passed from the Web Server about your request to the application program and back again.
An alternative to a CGI application is Microsoft's Active Server Page (ASP), in which a script that is embedded in a Web page is executed at the server before the page is sent.
Perl or Practical Extraction and Report Language is a family of script programming languages that are similar in syntax to the C language, including Perl 5 and Perl 6. Perl is an open source, general-use, interpreted language. In general, Perl is easier to learn and faster to code than the more structured C and C++ languages.
Perl programs can, however, be quite sophisticated. It is often used for developing common gateway interface (CGI) programs because it has good text manipulation facilities, although it also handles binary files. Perl includes a number of popular UNIX facilities such as sed, awk, and tr. It can be compiled just before execution into either C code or cross-platform bytecode. When compiled, a Perl program is almost as fast as a fully pre-compiled C language program. A plug-in can be installed for some servers, such as Apache, so that Perl is loaded permanently in memory, thus reducing compile time and resulting in faster execution of CGI Perl scripts.
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PERL and CGI Tutorial - The Common Gateway Interface, or CGI, is a set of standards that define how information is exchanged between the web server and a custom script.
CGI is a set of standards that defines a standard way of passing information or web-user requests to an application program and getting data back.
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