12.1 "Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave"
chapter is the third part of our look at Python Internet programming.
In the last two chapters, we explored sockets and basic client-side
programming interfaces such as FTP and email. In this chapter, our
main focus will be on writing server-side
scripts in Python -- a type of program usually referred
to as CGI scripts. Server-side scripting and its
derivatives are at the heart of much of what happens on the Web these
As we'll see, Python makes an ideal language for writing
scripts to implement and customize web sites, due to both its ease of
use and its library support. In the following two chapters, we will
use the basics we learn in this chapter to implement full-blown web
sites. After that, we will wrap up with a chapter that looks at other
Internet-related topics and technologies. Here, our goal is to
understand the fundamentals of server-side scripting, before
exploring systems that build upon that basic model.
As you read the next three chapters of this book, please keep in mind
that they are intended only as an introduction to server-side
scripting with Python. The webmaster domain is large and complex,
changes continuously, and often prescribes many ways to accomplish a
given goal -- some of which can vary from browser to browser and
server to server. For instance, the password encryption scheme of the
next chapter may be unnecessary under certain scenarios, and special
HTML tags may sometimes obviate some work we'll do here.
Given such a large and shifting knowledge base, this part of the book
does not even pretend to be a complete look at the server-side
scripting domain. To become truly proficient in this area, you should
study other texts for additional webmaster-y details and tricks
(e.g., O'Reilly's HTML & XHTML: The
Definitive Guide). Here, you will meet Python's CGI
toolset and learn enough to start writing substantial web sites of
your own in Python. But you should not take this text as the final
word on the subject.