The Internet has a growing role in the world, and much of it depends on the success of the World Wide Web, which is based on the HTTP protocol. In Chapter 19, "Internet Programming: Sockets and Indy," we discussed HTTP and the development of client- and server-side applications based on it. With the availability of several high-performance, scalable, flexible web servers, you'll rarely want to create your own. Dynamic web server applications are generally built by integrating scripting or compiled programs within web servers, rather than by replacing them with custom software.
This chapter is entirely focused on the development of server-side applications, which extend existing web servers. I introduced the dynamic generation of HTML pages toward the end of the last chapter. Now you will learn how to integrate this dynamic generation within a server. This chapter is a logical continuation of the last one, but it won't complete this book's coverage of Internet programming; Chapter 21 is devoted to the IntraWeb technology available in Delphi 7, and Chapter 22 gets back to Internet programming from the XML perspective.
To test some of the examples in this chapter, you'll need access to a web server. The simplest solution is to use the version of Microsoft's IIS or Personal Web Server already installed on your computer. My personal preference, however, is to use the free open-source Apache Web Server available at www.apache.org. I won't spend much time giving you details of the configuration of your web server to enable the use of applications; you can refer to its documentation for this information.