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HTTP: The Definitive Guide by Brian Totty, Marjorie Sayer, Sailu Reddy, Anshu Aggarwal, David Gourley

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Resource Gateways

So far, we've been talking about gateways that connect clients and servers across a network. However, the most common form of gateway, the application server, combines the destination server and gateway into a single server. Application servers are server-side gateways that speak HTTP with the client and connect to an application program on the server side (see Figure 8-8).

An application server connects HTTP clients to arbitrary backend applications

Figure 8-8. An application server connects HTTP clients to arbitrary backend applications

In Figure 8-8, two clients are connecting to an application server using HTTP. But, instead of sending back files from the server, the application server passes the requests through a gateway application programming interface (API) to applications running on the server:

  • Client A's request is received and, based on the URI, is sent through an API to a digital camera application. The resulting camera image is bundled up into an HTTP response message and sent back to the client, for display in the client's browser.

  • Client B's URI is for an e-commerce application. Client B's requests are sent through the server gateway API to the e-commerce software, and the results are sent back to the browser. The e-commerce software interacts with the client, walking the user through a sequence of HTML pages to complete a purchase.

The first popular API for application gateways was the Common Gateway Interface (CGI). CGI ...

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