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CGI Information and Assistance

CGI - Making Your Site Work

Yes it's harder to work with than Java. Yes it's at times difficult to understand. When something goes wrong it could be disastrous. You need all of the libraries and lots of other software running on the server. I'm sure there are also many more problems with it that can cause people to cringe when you mention it. Yes it's all true. What else is true is that when it's up and running, nothing and I mean nothing beats it. Forget about Java, Dynamic HTML and all the other add-ons, helpers and substitute nothing comes close to a web site with well written and installed Perl with CGI.

What flusters most webmasters is the installation. Everything has to be just so and in a strict adherence to semantics and syntax that CGI/Perl and sometimes only CGI/Perl understands, and that's true. You must be sure that everything is just so. That your server has the right Perl on it. That locations are right and a seemingly thousand other details are done right to make it work. However things have changed in the last couple of years. Most scripts have been improved and servers are no longer just the realm of UNIX gurus in wizard robes ruling the roost. This doesn't mean you can make mistakes, just that there is far less input needed from you to get the script installed and running.

All of the scripts here have clear instructions. As long as your server is properly set up (all require Perl 5) and you are aware of the correct paths and Url's you can have these up and running in a reasonable amount of time. Pay attention to the read me files (RTFM) and do things one step at a time. Make sure the Pete brothers (Pete and Repeat) are on hand. Check and double check your work and it will be a worthwhile and rewarding experience. Especially when you are complimented on having a well functioning web site. A artful and beautiful web site is like a broken Rolls Royce. Nothing is more saddening than looking at one broke down at the side of the road.

One key to remember and it should be the most important. All you are doing is implementing a script that is giving your computer directions. A good example is a macro. A good one written well will save you a lot of time and produce grade A work in say Word for Win. A poor one can ruin all of your work. A CGI script is really the same thing.

Give it a try.Most web site host have a sandbox around your site so you can't shut the entire server down. It may take some time but in the end well worth it.

CGI Basics:

Information You Need. Action to Take.
  • Find out where Perl is on your server.
  • Insure the correct path is on the very first line of the page with the script.
  • Find out the exact path for your site and paths to each directory.
  • Make sure when asked by the script for the path you use, the exact path.
  • Determine the appropriate Url's. It may be slightly different than you think.
  • Use them only when asked. Do not substitute for the path when asked for the path. Only the path will work.
  • Don't guess at anything. Everything the script asks will have a definite answer.
  • Determine the answers before hand. Don't wait until you are ready to install other things.
Be Patient, Perl is an Exacting Tool. Check and Recheck Your Work.

If CGI support is part of your service contract then your host will be able to provide you
all of the answers as regards your path, Url's, the location and the status of Perl. If not you should consider a different host even if it's a free service. If all they say is "look it up in the FAQ" tell them you checked your checkbook and contract already. That answer is not 24/7 support friendly! A good technical support technician should be able to give you that information immediately. Anything less is substandard support. Don't rely on "well sort of, I think, well maybe" kind of answers. There is no maybe in CGI.

Everything here is based on CGI using Perl 5 with UNIX or UNIX type (Linux, Free-Bsd etc.) servers. If what you have does not begin with the "hash bang - #!" and the location o f Perl, it is not Perl and we can't help you. If your server is a NT server again sorry we can't help. Since you are probably paying more for the privilege of supporting Mr. Gates, your host or the folks at Redmon will have all of the answers (pardon me while I have a good laugh:-) the only thing I have ever had to do with NT is help folks change to LINUX..

If you have followed all of the directions fully and have gotten all of the correct information from your host and they still don't work email us with the name of the script you are trying to install, the answers to the variables in the script and exactly what error messages you are getting from your server. We will try to assist you on a space available basis.
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