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Server Side Interaction with Databases

The primary advantage of server-side programming technologies is their ability to utilize databases. Databases are very efficient and powerful tools used for storing and retrieving data. Most sophisticated Web applications utilize databases for storing their data. Server-side programming is also very reliable. Servers provide a more stable, secure, and controllable programming environment then the browser of the client.
Requisite technologies have converged sufficiently to allow dynamic access to databases usingWeb browsers. The Web has provided a global infrastructure, a set of standards, and a presentation format, while database technology has contributed storage techniques, query languages, efficient access to large bodies of highly structured data, and mechanisms for maintaining the integrity and consistency of data. Prior to theWeb, Internet access to databases was hampered by low bandwidth, the lack of a standardized interface, and platform dependencies . The emergence of the Web helped fix the interface and platform problems, and high-speed connections are helping to fix the bandwidth problem. Yet another problem to be solved was how to access databases dynamically, avoiding the problem of having to convert database data manually to text suitable for transmission using the hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP). This problem has been solved through the use of programs and scripts that convert relational data to hypertext markup language (HTML) for transmission over the Web.

Database Supporting Roles

Not every database application is directed toward public outreach and public access, although the public side often works in conjunction with the private side. This section briefly discusses types of databases and the support they provide to organizations. Reference databases support retrieval of literature citations, abstracts, and hard data from vast databases. Most are made available on a subscription basis. They are seldom used for transaction processing but can be useful as part of the informational services of an organization. They are of vital interest to libraries, information agencies, and information research units within organizations, and they make up an important component in corporate knowledge-management operations digital libraries, and data mining. They are available over the Internet from companies such as Lexis/Nexis, Ovid, Ebsco, Dialog, and Dow Jones. Back-office databases are part of an internal information system supporting the functioning of the organization. Some portions of the databases may be made available to Internet users, but they are less often used in transaction processing. Typically, back-office applications



User clicks through browser.
User clicks through browser.

Browser sends http requests for information to web server.
Browser sends http requests for information to web server.

Web server receives the requests. CGI scripts, APIs, and custom middleware solutions are used to talk to the database server.
Web server receives the requests. CGI scripts, APIs, and custom middleware solutions are used to talk to the database server.

Database server engages database access protocoles to access the data in a database.
Database server engages database access protocoles to access the data in a database.



Data report returned to database server.
Data report returned to database server.

Database server sends report back out through middleware to Web Server.
Database server sends report back out through middleware to Web Server.

Web server receives report and transmits it on to user who requested it.
Web server receives report and transmits it on to user who requested it.