Common Gateway Interface [CGI]


(n.) A widely used set of standards designed to run external programs from a World Wide Web HTTP server. CGI defines a set of environmental variables and specifies how to pass arguments to the executing program as part of the HTTP request. It may exist as any program that accepts command line arguments. Perl is often used to write CGI scripts. A script can access information in a database, format the results as HTML, and return this information to the browser. When a server receives a CGI execution request, it creates a new process to run the external program, which can create problems if the process fails to terminate. Microsoft developed the Internet Server Application Programming interface (ISAPI) standard, and Netscape devised NSAPI; both standards allow CGI-like tasks to run as part of the main server process, making it unnecessary to create a new process for each CGI request.

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