CGI with Perl

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					CGI with Perl

              Darby Tien-Hao Chang (a.k.a. dirty)

    Department of Electrical Engineering, National
                           Cheng Kung University
A typical Perl CGI session goes something
like this:

   #!/usr/bin/perl
   print "Content-type: text/html\r\n\r\n";
   print "<HTML>\n";
   print "<HEAD><TITLE>Hello
   World!</TITLE></HEAD>\n";
   print "<BODY>\n";
   print "<H2>Hello World!</H2>\n";
   print "</BODY>\n";
   print "</HTML>\n";
   exit (0);
Anatomy of a CGI program

   A CGI program always has 3 basic parts:
       MIME type
       HTML document
       Return value
MIME type

   Content-type: text/html<CRLF><CRLF>
   The "\r\n\r\n" is required by the MIME standards (it
    stands for CRLF CRLF, for those that are curious)

   text/plain Plain text, not processed as HTML by the
   text/tab-separated-values Data that will be loaded
    into a spreadsheet-like program
   image/jpeg, image/png The data will be displayed as
    an image
   application/pdf The document should be viewed by
    a PDF reader
HTML document

   You know that
Return value

   After a CGI program ends, the web server collects
    the "return value" of the program so that it knows if
    there was an error or not
   This is sometimes useful for debugging purposes
    because the programmer is allowed to determine
    the meaning of non-zero return values
   In Perl, you can specify what the return value of the
    CGI program is with the exit keyword:
       exit (0); # normal exit code
       exit (1): # something bad happened
   Change the return value in your to a '1' and
    see if you can find the resulting error code in your
    web server's error log.
Let‟s see the log of your httpd with
   #!/usr/bin/perl
   # It's always a good idea to use the strict pragma while developing
   # Perl code, it makes Perl warn about dangerous code
   use strict;

   # We're also going to include the CGI module, so that we can take
   # advantage of other programmer's efforts (One of Larry Wall's basic
   # tennants is that programmers are fundamentally lazy -- he's probably
   # right, but I can't be bothered to prove it right now)
   use CGI;

   # instantiate a new CGI object
   my $cgi = new CGI;

   # perform a single print statement, with liberal use of the perl
   # string concatenator "." and some CGI methods
   print
       $cgi->header . $cgi->start_html('Hello World!') .
       $cgi->h1('Hello World!') . $cgi->end_html;

   # Tell the webserver everything is fine
   exit (0);
Where is my

   Hey, TA
About HTML forms
   An HTML <form> tag is the foundation of a user input section on a web page.
       <form method="get" action="/cgi-bin/">
   Everything following that tag through the corresponding </form> tag can contain
    elements such as these:
       A Text Input Box
       <input type="text" name="foo">
       A Radio Button
       <input type="radio" name="color" value="blue>
       A Check Box
       <input type="chekcbox" name="isMarried">
       A Hidden Varible
       <input type="hidden" name="StateVariable" value="1">
       A Submit Button
       <input type="submit" name="StateVariable">
   Where each element has a name and an associated value.
   The value may be included with the tag itself (see the radio and hidden
    examples above), and/or it can be supplied by the user.
   Variable names can be any legal HTML identifier and are almost
    always supplied via the name property of an HTML tag:
     <input name="foo" ... >

     <input name="bar" ... >

     <input name="Desired Hair Color" ... >

     <input name="Date" ... >
     <input name="First Name" ... >

   Once the form above is sent to the web server, the CGI program
    will be able to access these elements by those names:
     my $foo = $cgi->param('foo');

     my $bar = $cgi->param('bar');

     my $hair_index = $cgi->param('Desired Hair Color');
     my $date = new Date($cgi->param('Date'));

     my $name = $cgi->param('First Name');

   A value can either be a string (as shown
    above), or it can be an array of items
   How do you access the variables in the case
    that you have a series of checkboxes?
       my @values = $cgi->param('listOfStuff');

   Let's take a closer look at the <form> tag:
       <form method="post" action="/cgi-
   The action attribute is a path to your CGI
    program, but what does the method attribute
   There are two different ways that an HTTP
    request can send CGI variables to a server,
    GET and POST
   A GET request is encoded in the URL of an HTTP request by using the
    question-mark (?) delimiter:
       http://somserver/cgi-bin/
   Everything after the question mark is the query in the format of
   A typical CGI program for the above request:
       my $first_name = $cgi->param('fname');
       my $last_name = $cgi->param('lname');
       print "$first_name $last_name";
   And the result will be:
       Craig Kelley

   You can see the variables and their values in the location bar of most
    web browsers
   You should always keep GET requests under 1024 characters,
    otherwise you may run into problems with older browsers
   A POST request is sent along what is known as an out-of-band
    (OOB) channel that does not utilize the URL, but rather a special
    network pipe of its own
   The advantage of this method over the GET method is that a lot
    of data can be sent without cluttering up the URL
   A POST request will look like any other request:
     http://someserver/cgi-bin/

   But the browser will tell the web server that it has additional
    variable information, and it will be sent along the same
    connection that the URL is sent
   Many web applications that deal in a lot of data are well served
    with POST sessions
Which to Use?

   It is good practice to use the GET method
    whenever you are able to because the POST
    method is more difficult for a user to manage,
    and it doesn't function well with a browser's
    back or history button
   On the other side, it's a good idea to use the
    POST method when something secure or
    private is being sent such as a password or a
    credit card number
Sample HTML and CGI program

Using cookies
   What is a Cookie?
       A cookie is a text-only string that gets entered into the memory of your
       This value of a variable that a website sets
       If the lifetime of this value is set to be longer than the time you spend at that
        site, then this string is saved to file for future reference
   Why do sites use Cookies
       These range from the ability to personalize information (like on My Yahoo or
        Excite), or to help with on-line sales/services (like on Amazon Books or
        eBay), or simply for the purposes of collecting demographic information (like
       Cookies also provide programmers with a quick and convenient means of
        keeping site content fresh and relevant to the user's interests
       The newest servers use cookies to help with back-end interaction as well,
        which can improve the utility of a site by being able to securely store any
        personal data that the user has shared with a site (to help with quick logins
        on your favorite sites, for example)
Let‟s see how many cookies in your
Using cookies

   Set cookies
       $cgi->header(
           -cookie => new CGI::Cookie(
               -name => 'Monster',
               -value => $cgi->param('Monster'),
               -expires => '+3d',
               -domain => '„
           )
       )

   Get cookies
       $cgi->cookie('Monster')
Database CGI

   # setup database connection variables
   my $user = "some username goes here";
   my $password = "some password goes here";
   my $host = "the host you want to connect to";
   my $driver = "mysql";

   # connect to database
   my $dsn = "DBI:$driver:database=cis430;host=$host";
   my $dbh = DBI->connect($dsn, $user, $password);
Some notes about the program
   There is no HTML file for this program
   All of the necessary document data is contained within the CGI
    program, and a default page is displayed when there is no form
    data to show directly from the program
   Results are shown only when the submit button was pressed
     if ($cgi->param('Query'))

   +----------+--------------+
    | Field         | Type              |
    | filename | varchar(255) |
    | artist        | varchar(64) |
    | song          | varchar(64) |
    | album         | varchar(64) |
    | track         | int(11)           |
Basic Perl syntax guide - variables: scalars,
arrays, hashes
   The scalar can hold one specific piece of
    information at a time, such as a string, integer,
    or reference
   All variables, whether they be a scalar, array,
    hash, or other type, are CASE-SENSITIVE,
    meaning that $myvar and $MYVAR are
    treated as two different variables
Variable scope

   Whenever you first define either a scalar, array, or
    hash, use the my keyword to denote that it belongs
    to a particular scope
   Scope is a particular area inside opening and
    closing brackets, and defines where a variable is
    accessible from

       my $string = „David‟;
       {
           $string = „John‟;
       }
       print $string; # this will print the text “John”
Variable scope
    my $string = „David‟;
    {
        my $string = „John‟;
    }
    print $string;

    $string = „David‟;
    print $string;

    {
        my $string = „John‟;
    }
    print $string;
Single/double quote
   my $text = „cool guy‟;
   my $string = „some $text‟;
   print $string; # prints literally “some $text”;

   my $text = „cool guy‟;
   my $string = “some $text”;
   print $string; # prints literally “some cool guy”;

   my $email = „‟; # fine – no error
   my $email = “”; # an error message
   my $email = “david\”; # fine – no error
   Arrays are simply a list of scalar variables
   Arrays begin with an @ sign instead of a dollar ($) sign
     my @array = (“string 1”, “string 2”, “string 3”);

   To access an array
     foreach my $value (@array)

     {
           print $value . “\n”;
       }

     print $array[0] . “\n”;
     print $array[1] . “\n”;

     print $array[2] . “\n”;

   So when you‟re referencing an individual element of an array,
    you use a dollar sign, not the @ sign
   A hash is a list of name value pairs
   To define a hash, use this syntax (the percent sign):
       my %hash;
   To add new values to a hash, use this syntax:
       $hash{„key1‟} = „value1‟;
       $hash{„key2} = „value2‟;
       $hash{„key3‟} = „value3‟;
   To access hash elements, simply reference the hash key name:
       print $hash{„key1‟}; # prints “value1”
   To loop through all elements in a hash:
       while (my($key, $value) = each(%hash))
       {
           print $key . „ – „ . $value . “\n”;
       }

       foreach my $key (keys(%hash)) {
           print $key, “ – “, $hash{$key}, “\n”;
       }
Accessing the file system with Perl
   Create an empty file:
       open(FILEHANDLE, “>/path/to/my/file.txt”) || die(„cannot open file: „ . $!);
       close(FILEHANDLE);
   A greater than sign “>” means open in write mode, erasing any previous
    contents of the file
   Two greater than signs “>>” mean open in append mode, meaning add our new
    data to the file after the data that already existed
   You can almost always get the path to your document root (where your web
    server serves its initial index.html file from) by using this syntax:
       my $document_root = $ENV{„DOCUMENT_ROOT‟};
   The die function prints an error message if what we tried to do didn‟t succeed
   The $! Variable is a special perl variable which contains the last error the perl
    program had before it exited
   Writing data to a file (in write mode – existing data in file is erased):
       print FILEHANDLE „some data is now in this file, and if any data was already in the file,
        it is now gone.‟;
       close(FILEHANDLE);
Reading data from a file

   open(FILEHANDLE, “/path/to/my/file.txt”) ||
    die(„cannot open file: „ . $!);
   # this will only print the first line of the file:
   print $_;
   # this will print all lines of data in the file:
   while(<FILEHANDLE>)
   {
       print $_;
   }
   close(FILEHANDLE);

   Counter
       With cookies
       With a text file
       With MySQL
Remember our wonderful program?

   A step-by-step wrapping/deployment
A program without input (parameter)

   Write your program
   Compile it
   Write a CGI program
   Call your program from the CGI program
   Parse the output of your program and then
    generate a HTML view
   Make sure other users could access your
    CGI program from browser
A program with input (parameters)

   Write your program
   Compile it
   Write a HTML to provide users a interface for input
   Write a CGI program to receive user input
   Call your program from the CGI program with user
   Parse the output of your program and then generate
    a HTML view
   Make sure other users could access your CGI
    program from browser
Now, what CGI is?

   A interface
   We use Perl to implement this interface
   Two sides of this interface, HTML and your
    program, don‟t care about CGI too much
   HTML-CGI program
       Very simple!
   CGI program-your program
       Depends on yourself

   Choose one program and give it a web