Dynamic HTML -- a definition

Subject: Dynamic HTML -- a definition
From: Kris Olberg <kjolberg -at- IX -dot- NETCOM -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 6 Dec 1996 10:18:26 -0800

At 11:19 AM 12/5/96 +0200, a fellow TECHWHIRLER wrote:
>Could you please tell me in plain, simple terms what Dynamic HTML is?

It is HTML that has been tailored according to a user's response on a form,
information stored in a database, etc.

Here's a common example of dynamic HTML: I am viewing a site and elect to
provide feedback using the feedback form provided by the site. I enter my
first name, last name, and some comments in the input fields on the form.
When I click the "Submit" button to send your comments, I receive an
acknowledgement saying, "Kris, thank you for providing feedback." In this
case, the HTML sent to the browser was tailored according to the first name
input field on the form.

Behind the scenes, here's what happens:

1. I enter information into the form. Here's an example of the form (the
lines represent input boxes) with a Submit button at the bottom:

First name ______________
Last name ______________
Comments ______________

| Submit |

2. When I click "Submit," my responses are packaged into one long string and
sent to the action specified in the HTML. Generally, this is some type of
CGI program (written in C++, Perl, etc.) that accepts the string as input.
Here's an example of the output from the browser for a simple form. (I split
the string into two lines manually for the purpose of this post.)


3. When the CGI program receives this, it manipulates the string. If the CGI
could talk, it might be overheard to say the following as it works: "First,
I'll replace the plus (+) signs with spaces. Next, I'll separate the string
into chunks according to the ampersands. Oh, now I can see that first_name
is equal to 'Kris,' and last_name is 'Olberg.' Her comments are 'These are
the comments I typed in the form.' Now I'll send an e-mail to the support
desk at my company containing Kris's name and her comments. I'll also create
some HTML to send to the browser so Kris knows I received her comments. And
because I'm so nice, I'll even personalize the HTML so it contains her name."

4. The browser receives the HTML from the CGI and displays it.

This is only one very simple example of dynamic HTML. At the site I am
creating, we are implementing dynamic HTML slightly differently, but the
concept is the same: often the HTML output is tailored according to some
response or database field.

kjolberg -at- ix -dot- netcom -dot- com (preferred)
kolberg -at- actamed -dot- com

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