Common Gateway Interface (CGI)

What is CGI-BIN?
It’s a term that gets thrown about all the time in “web circles”. CGI, CGI-BIN, Common Gateway Interface all generally refer to an environment where users “run” a program on a server, using a web browser on a client computer to submit input. The program may store the data, or lookup information based on the data, the possibilities are being expanded all the time. Whatever the program does with the input data, it typically also returns some information or confirmation (output) to the user’s browser.
CGI-BIN is usually a directory on a server that is setup with special permissions. These permissions include allowing Internet users to run, or execute, the programs. On some web servers, any file with the extension “.cgi” can run without regard to what directory the script file is located in.
The University of Kansas Academic Computing Center has a fairly detailed description of CGI and HTML forms.
There is a CGI standard defined here. NSCA was the first widely available web server, and so in the early days of the Internet, other web server software such as Netscape conformed more or less to these standards.
That document is also mentioned on the W3C site’s own comprehensive listing of information related to the various technical implementations of CGI, the Common Gateway Interface.

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