CGI Programming on the World Wide Web

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Input to the Common Gateway Interface

2.6 Other Languages Under Microsoft Windows

On Microsoft Windows, your mileage varies according to which Web server you use. The freely available 16-bit server for Windows 3.1, Bob Denny's winhttpd, supports a CGI interface for Perl programs, but it also supports a Windows CGI interface that allows you to write CGI programs in languages like Visual Basic, Delphi, and Visual C++.

Under Windows NT and Windows 95, available servers are WebSite by O'Reilly & Associates, Inc. (developed by Denny as a 32-bit commercial product), NetSite by Netscape, Purveyor by Process Software, and the Internet Server Solution from Microsoft (not yet released as of this writing, but imminent and not easily ignored). There is also another freely available server ( EMWACS), although it is not considered as robust as the commercial products.

All platforms support CGI development in Perl. In addition, WebSite, Netscape, and Microsoft all include Windows CGI interfaces. However, the CGI implementations are all slightly different.

Visual Basic

Visual Basic is perfect for developing CGI applications because it supports numerous features for accessing data in the Windows environment. This includes OLE, DDE, Sockets, and ODBC. ODBC, or Open Database Connectivity, allows you to access a variety of relational and non-relational databases. The actual implementation of the Windows CGI interface determines how CGI variables are read from a Visual Basic program. This simple example uses the WebSite 1.0 server, which depends on a CGI.BAS module that sets up some global variables representing the CGI variables.

Sub CGI_Main ()
      Send ("Content-type: text/plain")
      Send ("")
      Send ("Server Name")
      Send ("")
      Send ("The server name is: " & CGI_ServerName)
End Sub

The module function Main in CGI.BAS calls the user-written CGI_Main function when executing the CGI program. The CGI_ServerName variable contains the name of the server. As we said, your mileage will vary according to which Windows-based server you use.

Perl for Windows NT

As I mentioned earlier, Perl has been ported to Windows NT as well as to many other platforms, including DOS and Windows 3.1. This makes CGI programming much easier on these platforms, because we have access to the powerful pattern-matching abilities and to various extensions to such utilities as databases and graphics packages.

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