Dynamic Documents

by : Jesse Miller

Dynamic documents do not exist in a predefined format. Instead, a dynamic document is created by a web server whenever a browser requests the document. When a request arrives, the Web server runs an application program that creates the dynamic document. The server returns the output of the program as a response to the browser that requested the document.

Because a fresh document is created for each request, the contents of a dynamic document can vary from one request to another. A very simple example is getting the time and date from the server. Time and date are types of information that are dynamic. They change from moment to moment. The client can request that the server run a program such as the date program in UNIX and send the result of the program to the client.

Common gateway interface is a standard for building dynamic Web documents. It is a model in the sense that it defines the type of language to be used in preparation the document. Today, most of the CGI programs have been created using shell scripts in UNIX. Note that the browser in the client machine does not have to know anything about running the script. The script is run at the server site.

Dynamic documents are produced when they are called. However, they are produced at the server site, not the client site. For many applications, we need the program to be run at the client site. These are called active documents. A copy of the program, in binary form, is to be sent to the client. The interpreter at the client site is responsible for running the program.

Java is a combination of three components: programming language, runtime environment, and a class library. The programming language is used to create programs at the server site. It is an object-oriented language that has many similarities to C++. The runtime environment component is used at the client site to run the program in binary form. The class library is a collection of predefined objects to make object-oriented programming easier.

Java uses the term applet to define an active document program. The term distinguishes active programs from regular programs. To enable use of active documents, Sun Microsystems, incorporated has defined a technology and a language called Java.

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Active documents are often used for high end applications of websites, online games, flash programs, and greater applications.