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CGI stands for Common Gateway Interface, and a CGI is a "script" containing instructions which a computer can follow. This script can be written in any programming language that can process user input and return some form of output. The programming language considered at the turn of the millenium to be most appropriate to this task in most cases is Perl.
Larry Davies and Markus Weininger gave a session on SchMOOze University to address issues such as "What are CGIs, what can they do?"; 2. "Why might I want to use them for my site?"; and 3. "How can I start?" In January 2000, the materials were still up at:
The current author of the site below didn't leave a calling card, but it's called "The cgimail home page" and it was originally authored by Bruce Lewis a MIT
A CGI Tutorial at http://www.wdvl.com/Authoring/CGI/ is provided by WDVL and takes you through the process of creating CGIs.
The lingua franca of CGI is Perl. The tutorial below explains Perl pretty well. It was written by Colin Ferm and is dated 25 Nov 1998 (I'm looking at it on January 24, 2000).
This is a very clear presentation of Perl, starting with a set of rules applicable in all cases (nice to have rules of thumb - first rule, always start your script this way - easy), if else statements, introducing variables and so on. You can also get here via http://www.webmonkey.com/ and select Programming - Perl/CGI in the "How-to Library." There are a lot of other interesting tutorials in that How-to Library, so it's worth checking out.
There's also an article linked from this page by Tim Ziegler (25 Jun 1999) on "borrowing" scripts created by others and adapting them to your own purposes. This article is at:
Directed particularly at educators, there are free cgi perl scripts available at
Have fun scripting! Or even if you really can't script (who on earth can?) --> 'borrowing' ...
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