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he practice of serving static HTML pages is almost a thing of the past These days, most popular Web sites have a great deal of dynamic content People do not visit Web sites that do not change frequently Therefore, it is important to know how to enable dynamic contents using CGI scripts, Server Side Includes, FastCGI applications, PHP, mod_perl scripts, and Java servlets This part shows you how to use all of these technologies with Apache
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12 Running CGI Scripts 13 Server Side Includes (SSI) 14 Configuring Apache for FastCGI 15 PHP and Apache 16 Using Perl with Apache 17 Running Java Servlets and JSP Pages with Tomcat
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Running CGI Scripts
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ynamic contents drive the Web Without dynamic, personalizable contents the Web would be a been there, done that type of place After all, why would people come again and again to see and experience the same old contents over and over The dynamic contents moved from concept to reality with a lot of help from a specification called the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) The CGI specification tells a Web server how to interact with external application A Web server that runs CGI applications practically enables anyone to run a selected list of programs on the server on demand This chapter discusses the basics of CGI to give you a clear understanding of it, and the details of setting up Apache to support CGI executions
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Understanding the basics of the Common Gateway Interface Configuring Apache for CGI Providing cgi-bin access for individual users Running commonly used CGI applications Configuring Apache to debug CGI applications
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What Is CGI
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To provide dynamic, interactive contents on the Web, a lot of popular Web sites use CGI applications Chances are that you have already used one or more CGI applications on the Web For example, when you fill out a Web form it is likely to be processed by a CGI script written in Perl or some other language Of course, as more and more Web technologies emerge, new means of delivering dynamic contents over the Web are becoming available Most of these solutions are either language specific, or operating system or commercial software dependent CGI, on the other hand, is a languageindependent gateway interface specification that can be implemented using virtually any widely popular application development language, including C, C++, Perl, shell scripting languages, and Java This section gives you a look at how a CGI program works (see Figure 12-1) The basic idea is that the Web server gets a certain URL that magically at least for now tells the Web server that it must run an external application called
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Part III Running Web Applications
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GET /cgi-bin/helloworldpl
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helloworldpi
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Figure 12-1: How a CGI program works
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helloworldcgi The Web server launches the application, waits for it to
complete, and returns output Then, it transmits the application s output to the Web client on the other side What happens when you want the client to be capable of interacting with the application Well, input data from the client must be supplied to the application Similarly, when an application produces output, how does the server or client know what type of output to return A program can produce a text message, an HTML form for further inputs, an image, and so on As you can see, the output can vary a lot from application to application, so there must be a way for applications to inform the Web server and the client about the output type CGI defines a set of standard means for the server to pass client input to the external applications, and it also defines how an external application can return output Any application that adheres to these defined standards can be labeled as a CGI application/program/script For simplicity, I use the term CGI program to mean anything (such as a Perl script or a C program) that is CGI-specification compliant In the following section, I discuss how the CGI input/output process works