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Special Edition Using Intranet HTML
covering CGI/Perl topics
by Rick Smith (September 1, 2001)

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B O O K   I N F O R M A T I O N
Title: Special Edition Using Intranet HTML
Authors: Mark Surfas, Mark Brown, John Jung, Dana Blankenhorn et al
Publisher: Que Corporation
201 West 103rd Street
Indianapolis, IN 46290

This older book has the unusual title of Using Intranet HTML, but the HTML it describes for use on an Intranet is really no different than that used for any other web page. While also intended to be more relevant to a closed Intranet, with over a thousand pages and 46 chapters of material, written by an ensemble of authors, this book covers a great number of useful topics. These web-related topics range from the history of the Internet to database access and Active X controls. The two chapters that I am concentrating on deal with Perl, referred to as "CGI scripting" in this book's Table of Contents. Also relevant is the CD-ROM that is provided, since it includes electronic versions of several other complete books.

The sixty pages in these two CGI-based chapters provide basic information about CGI and present printed examples of several simple CGI programs written in Perl. Most of these programs use the older, simpler CGI-LIB module because this an older (1996) book. Unfortunately, the CD-ROM includes only the HTML for the forms without providing the Perl source code, so you will have to type in the code (or use OCR) to run the programs. These applications are:

  • An e-mail form (requires a local copy of sendmail on web server)

  • a useful local (not web-based) find and replace script to make global changes to multiple HTML pages.

  • a Simple Guestbook

  • an improved (fancy) Guestbook with better looking forms and improved error checking.

    The other CGI examples in these chapters (Color Conversion and CGI Graphics animation) both require a Perl CGI program which was located on another server in the past. Unfortunately, these applications don't exist anymore at their given locations and the source code wasn't provided in either print or CD form, so you are out of luck.

    The great bonus feature with this book is the CD-ROM that comes with it. This CD includes HTML versions of 8 other Que books. The most important one for us is the Special Edition Using CGI, which provides 28 chapters of useful information about CGI. The other seven titles included on the CD-ROM are:

  • HTML Quick Reference

  • Special Edition Using VBScript

  • Special Edition Using Java

  • Special Edition Using JavaScript

  • Running a Perfect Netscape Site

  • Special Edition Using Back Office

  • Special Edition Using SQL Server 6.5

    The copy of Special Edition Using CGI book, contained on the CD-ROM, also provides several Perl applications with their source code included. These applications are:

  • Simple graphic animation program

  • Random Image Generator

  • Simple Search script for small sites under 400 pages

  • Free for All Link Page (allows anyone to add a link to a specific page)

  • Countdown - displays hours, minutes and seconds to an upcoming event

    Many of these applications are also available from Matt Wright's Script Archive as well, but the source code is contained within the HTML page. If you are interested in the Matt Wright archives, he has written a book titled CGI/Perl Cookbook and we will be reviewing it soon.

    While more advanced applications exist in other books (see Instant CGI/Perl), if you are new to CGI programming, but have written programs before and enjoy learning on your own, the applications in this book provide a good start. They are short, not too complex and help teach some of the basics. While this is NOT the book to learn Perl from, if you want to dabble with Perl before you start learning the language, I recommend this book.

    I wish I had this book when I started playing with Perl. (The first CGI program I wrote, years ago, was a simple Body Mass Index (BMI) application, which was far less complex than most of these applications. My initial goal was to get it working and I did. Quite frankly, I got it running without knowing much about Perl. Only after it ran and I began to want to make more changes and to create new programs, was I "inspired" to learn Perl.) I have found that understanding the goal makes learning easier and some early success doesn't hurt.

    Book Chapters

    Copyright 2001 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

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