• Introduction to Web Technology

  • There are literally hundreds of difficult technologies available

    to the webmaster. Making proper use of these technologies allows

    the creation of maintainable, efficient and useful web sites. For

    example, using SSI (server side includes) or CSS (cascading style

    sheets) a webmaster can change every page on his web site by

    editing one file.

    A few of the more common technologies are listed below.

    ASP - Active Server Pages are used to perform server-side

    scripting. This is a way to get things done on the web server, as

    opposed to, say, JavaScript, which lets you get things one on the

    client (browser). Although there is a Unix and Linux version of

    ASP, it is primarily intended for use on Microsoft web server

    based systems.

    ASP is useful for tasks such as maintaining a database, creating

    dynamic pages and respond to user queries (and many other things

    as well).

    CGI - Common Gateway Interface is one of the older standards on

    the internet for moving data between a web page and a web server.

    CGI is by far and away the most commonly used method of handling

    things like guestbooks, email forms, message boards and so on.

    CGI is actually a standard for passing data back and forth and

    not a scripting language at all. In fact, CGI routines are

    commonly written in interpreted languages such as PERL or

    compiled languages like C.

    CSS - You use Cascading Style Sheets to format your web pages

    anyway that you want. CSS is complicated, but the complication

    pays off by being able to create web pages that look much better

    than otherwise. One very nice feature is the ability to define

    formatting commands in a single file, which is then included in

    all of your web pages. This let's you make one change to modify

    the look of your entire site.

    HTACCESS - The.htaccess file allows you to set parameters for

    your web site and folders (directories). The most common use is

    to protect directories by defining usernames and passwords.

    Htaccess can be used for many other things as well, including

    denying access to specific addresses, keeping out hostile spiders

    and redirecting traffic transparently to the user. The downside

    of htaccess is the language used is often extremely obscure,

    difficult to understand and extraordinarily precise. A small

    error in your htaccess file can disable your entire web site

    until the error is fixed.

    Java - Java is a client-side (meaning it's executed by the

    browser not the server) language. It is efficient and very

    powerful. The primary advantage of Java over ActiveX is Java has

    a sane security model (called the Sandbox Model), while the

    ActiveX model is so imbecilic as to defy imagination. Java is

    also much less likely to crash systems. On the other hand, Java

    is substantially slower than ActiveX, and there are many tasks

    that simply cannot be performed in Java because it is denied

    access to the operating system and disk itself.Introduction to Web Technology

    JavaScript - This is a scripting language which is interpreted

    and executed by the browser. It is very useful for getting tasks

    done on the client, such as moving pictures around the screen,

    creating very dynamic navigation systems and even games.

    JavaScript is generally preferable on internet sites because it

    is supported on more browsers than VBScript, which is the chief


    Office - The Microsoft Office suite includes a number of

    tools, including Word, Excel, Access and Powerpoint. Each of

    these tools has the ability to save in HTML format and has

    special commands for the internet. This is especially useful,

    for example, if you work in an office where people are trained

    in Excel and you don't want to retrain them to create web pages.

    On the other hand, if you are creating internet web sites (as

    opposed to intranet sites) you probably would be better off

    using web specific products to edit your web pages.

    Perl - A great scripting language which makes use of the CGI

    standard to allow work to be done on the web server. PERL is

    very easy to learn (as programming languages go) and

    straightforward to use. It is most useful for guestbooks, email

    forms and other similar, simply tasks. PERL's primary

    disadvantage is the overhead on the server is very high, as one

    process is created each time a routine is called, and the

    language is interpreted, which means the code is recompiled each

    time it is run. For complex tasks, a server-side scripting

    language such as PHP or ASP is much preferred.

    PHP - This language is, like ASP, used to get work done on the

    server. PHP is similar in concept to ASP and can be used in

    similar circumstances. PHP is very efficient, allows access to

    databases using products such as MySQL, and can be used to

    create very dynamic web pages.

    SSI - If your site is hosted on a typical Apache server, then

    you probably can use something called Server Side Includes. This

    is a way to get the web server to perform tasks before displaying

    a web page. One of the most common uses us to, well, include

    common text. This is great when you have, for example, a

    navigation system which is common to all of your pages. You can

    make one change in an SSI file and thus change your entire web


    SSI is very common but has really been superceded by languages

    such as PHP. The overhead of SSI on the server is high as each

    page is scanned for SSI directives before passing it to the


    VBScript - Visual Basic Scripting was Microsoft's answer to

    JavaScript. VBScript is a good tool for any site which is

    intended to be only displayed by the Internet Explorer browser.

    In my opinion, VBScript should never be used on a web site -

    JavaScript is preferable due to a wider acceptance among browsers.

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