Server Side Scripts
Server side scripts, as the name suggests, run from the web server. The browser sends a request, the script is run on the server and the results are sent back to the browser.
Server side scripts can access databases and files not viewable to the visitor, process the information requested then send back a page with page containing the information requested. Examples for server side scripting would be logins (required for password protected areas of the site), returning a products page based on product type selected, processing a form submitted to the site, etc.
Server side scripting can slow down the rendering of a web page. The browser requests information, the server processes the request and returns the results. If the database and/or programming is not optimized efficently or there is a lot of data to process and return the response time is slowed down.
There various types of server side scripts available. When selecting your web hosting make sure the type of script selected is supported by the web host.
Some commonly used server side scripting programs include:
CGI - Common Gateway Interface
CGI is an interface between the server and a cgi program. It defines how data is passed from the server to the CGI program. A CGI program can be written in different programming languages.
PERL - Practical Extraction and Reporting Language
PERL is a scripting language used frequently for writing CGI applications. It is very good for manipulating data and text.
ASP - Active Server Pages
ASP pages are Microsoft technoloy based dynamic web pages. Like CGI programs, it manipulates data and text and returns the information to the browser. The pages can contain regular HTML tags and programming scripts. These type of pages have an extension of .asp attached to the file name.
PHP - PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor
PHP is an open source (free) dynamic web page programming language. The pages can contain regular HTML tags and programming scripts. It is commonly used with MySQL, an open source database. These type of pages have an extension of .php attached to the file name.