Why Aren't You Using CGI?
The very name CGI used to send chills up my spine. For years I put it in
the "too-hard-basket". But like most things in life, CGI is not as scary
as it seems. If you have a cgi directory on your website and you know
how to FTP files, chances are you can have a CGI script up and running in
less than 20 minutes.
CGI (Common Gateway Interface) is not a programming language but a standard
that allows visitors to interact with your website. CGI scripts can be written
in a number of different languages but most are written in Perl (Practical
Extraction and Reporting Language).
This article gives you details of five free CGI scripts that will do the following:
1. Mail out your Newsletter from your server
2. Track the number of times your free E-Book is downloaded
3. Rotate banners on your website
4. Create your own auto responders
5. Allow visitors to recommend your website to friends
At the end of this article are details of where to download these five free scripts.
But first, here are some basic guidelines on how to configure and install CGI scripts:
1. CGI programs usually come in a zip file. Unzip the file and open the README
file. This document will give you instructions for configuring the program file.
2. Open the program file using a text editor such as NOTEPAD (the program file
will usually have the file extension .cgi but may have other extensions such as .pl).
In most CGI programs you will have to configure the following 4 items:
(a) the path to perl.
This is where the perl program resides on your server. The path will usually be:
#!/usr/bin/perl but could be: #!/usr/local/bin/perl
If you're unsure what your "path to perl" is, check your web host's online "manual"
or FAQs. If you can't find it there, simply ask your web host.
(b) the path to sendmail.
Most CGI programs notify you when your visitors have completed a particular action,
and for that, the program needs to know where the "sendmail" program resides on your
server. The path to your UNIX sendmail program will usually be: /usr/sbin/sendmail
But it could also be something like this: /usr/lib/sendmail
Again, check the documentation on your web host's website, or simply ask your web host.