Perl, CGI, SSI
Dynamic Web Page Content
Whether you need features like a blog, a
contact form, banner ad rotation, or a way to manage your
site content because your site's grown too large to manage
the static pages, you can probably find a relatively easy
way to take care of things with Perl or Server-Side-Includes.
The availability of free scripts combined with a massive support
community and simplicity of code makes Perl an especially
appealing option for adding some dynamic features to your
site without becoming a programmer.
Server Side Includes (SSI)
We're touching on these first, because they're
so thoroughly overlooked. SSI's allow you (if your server
is configured to do so) to do an amazing variety of things
very simply. You can rotate content, show the time, control
actions based on time and date, detect browsers, all sorts
of useful stuff. There's amazingly little out there about
SSI's, however, so you'll have to take what you can find and
SSI's make it possible to do things like
display the information below:
The Page You Came From:
Your IP Address:
The Date And Time You Came Here:
But the real power lies in choosing what
to do with that information. You can also use an "include"
statement to include files based on different variables like
time/date, browser, etc. Check out the links to BigNoseBird's
SSI pages. They remain the user-friendliest intro to this
we've come across.
What is CGI?
The NCSA puts it very well: "The Common
Gateway Interface (CGI) is a standard for interfacing external
applications with information servers, such as HTTP or Web
servers. A plain HTML document that the Web daemon retrieves
is static, which means it exists in a constant state: a text
file that doesn't change. A CGI program, on the other hand,
is executed in real-time, so that it can output dynamic information."
In simpler terms, it lets you take that
attractive but static page you've created, and give it some
It's a high-level programming language,
according to perl.org.
Some codeheads deny it this status, insisting that it's a
"glue language" or "scripting language".
The fact is, you can use Perl for just about anything you
want, but all we're concerned with is how we can use it for
web applications. Most commonly you'll see it used for things
like e-mail management, database interaction, bulletin boards,
and counters. The possibilities are endless. Check out the
recommended links to learn more.