Internal, open access

Forms and cgi scripts on the WWW

The purpose of forms and cgi scripts is to produce web applications which go beyond providing information on web pages. These can be used to obtain information from users for the owner of the WWW pages. Writing your own cgi scripts is not a simple task and should not be undertaken without careful consideration as it may be that other options (mailto, formmail or packages such as FrontPage) will provide the functionality you require.

Information from web forms can be entered into a database when the form is submitted. This can be a useful way to collect information from surveys etc. Databases that can be used on IT Services machines are MS Access or MS SQL Server. Please see Database integration with Web Pages for an introduction and for further documentation.

Other Options:

mailto:

The mailto tool on browsers allows a user to email directly to a particular email address set up by the writer of the WWW page.  If you select 'View', 'Documents Source' on your browser, you can see the address hidden behind this link. From the way it is used here you will see how it can be used in any document. Remember to show the email address for those people who do not have a browser with a 'mailto' facility, eg its-help@reading.ac.uk

formmail:

This is a generalised cgi script (written in perl) that allows the creation of forms which send results to a chosen email address or addresses. This script is available for all to use in the main cgi-bin directory of the wwwcgi server. (This means that everybody does not have to make a copy and keep it in their own cgi-bin directories.) Fields can be named in forms and what the user inputs to each field is returned with the field name indicated.

http://www.scriptarchive.com/formmail.html is the source of the script and http://www.scriptarchive.com/readme/formmail.html#form_config gives the relevant information on how to configure the form.

NB: the following line needs to be inserted in your form in order to run the script.

<FORM METHOD=POST ACTION=http://www.rdg.ac.uk/cgi-bin/formmail.pl

Packages:

If however you wish to use the facilities of packages like MS FrontPage that allow you to create script (ASP) driven web pages that interface with databases (MS Access and MS SQL Server) without you having to do the coding manually, see the further documents under the database section of the Index to World Wide Web help pages.

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