[thelist] Basic CGI questions; LONG POST

Green, Janet JGreen at DesMoinesMetro.com
Thu Mar 22 15:45:53 CST 2001

Hi all. I'm embarrassed by the simplicity of the questions contained in this
post, and I'm counting on you all not to laugh. I'm the webmaster/designer
for a small organization and we have a few instances where online forms
would be a great solution to a particular problem. We have just completed
the process of moving our website in-house to a Windows NT server using
Internet Information Services (IIS) software.

I note that there is a folder on the server called cgi-bin, and it contains
two .exe files: htimage.exe and imagemap.exe .  While it thus appears that
we *have* a cgi-bin (that answers question #1), neither of these filenames
suggests that they are programs for processing forms. Does anyone recognize
these app names and if so, what do they do? Also, if these are the only two
programs in the CGI bin, does that mean we do not yet have a
forms-processing application? And, if that's the case, do you all have any
recommendations for a reliable forms processing application that we could

And... going further... once we get a forms processing app, I know it must
be installed in the cgi-bin folder... will it be that app's documentation
that tells me what bit of code I need to put into my .html documents to make
them "talk" to that app when the user submits their form? Or is this
something that's standard for all such apps? 

The end result for the website/form USER in these instances should be that
they are taken to a thank-you page, and I assume I'll be able to code into
the html document which page to send them to. Ok, can handle that... the end
result for us as an organization should be that someone whom I designate
will receive the data from the form in a readable format. Am I correct in
understanding that this is accomplished by the CGI app generating an email
message containing the data in a readable format? And that a quality forms
processing app will include this capability without additional programming
from me? 

And finally... of course, it would be great if somehow all this data
contained in these emails would automatically dump into a database file so
we could manage it for marketing purposes without having to hand-enter it.
Is that also a CGI function? And if not, what type of function IS that, and
does it then still make sense to use CGI for forms processing if we are
going to want the database function as well anyway? 

Essentially, you can see that I need some education about how the back-end
of forms processing works. Until now I did not even have enough information
to know what I didn't know, so could not even ask the right questions. In
addition to possibly answering my questions, please feel free to point out
any "holes" in the process I've described above, or make recommendations for
helpful resources (esp. online). 

Thanks in advance. 


More information about the thelist mailing list