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15.2. Introduction to Forms

HTML form tags alone don't make forms work; they merely provide an interface for gathering data. The real work is done by forms-processing applications on the server, such as CGI scripts, ASP, PHP, or Java servlets (see Chapter 4, "A Beginner's Guide to the Server" for information on server-side scripting).

For simple forms processing, many web developers rely on CGI scripts. CGI (Common Gateway Interface) is the interface between HTTP/web server software (the program responsible for web transactions) and other programs on the server. There is an introduction to CGI scripts at the end of this chapter

If you are coming at web design from a designer's point of view (or even just as a novice to web design), chances are you will be handling the HTML form elements and leaving the programming to trained programmers. Often, ISPs provide a few canned CGI scripts, such as a guestbook or mailing function, that you can point to from within your form, but if you want something customized for your site, I recommend you hire a professional programmer to write it for you.

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