One of the most commonly used technologies today in web development is that of the server side includes which are known simply as SSI. This is a scripting language which is used entirely on the web and through it, a webpage is able to be produced dynamically. This dynamic content creation can be considered as a pasting of contents from one file into another; which in most cases is the pasting of the contents of a database onto the visible webpage.
It is important to remember, that while in general languages like PHP, ASP, ASP.NET and many others are considered to be SSI, server side includes is its own language as well as allowing one to create a static web page with a file extension of .stm, .shtm or even .shtml to include a line of code which can request the contents of another document on the sever. In all simplicity, the basic form of SSI, is most commonly used as a means of loading common code pieces found throughout the site including things like navigational menus and header to name a few.
It is through these other languages like PHP, ASP and ASP.Net that more complex processes can be handled such as the communication with a database instead of a prewritten file on the server. Using the same principals each development language comes with it a need for an engine that can support it. While server side includes in a basic HTML document can be done on virtually any server, this too requires the engine to run it. In the case of PHP, the server has to contain the Zend engine or equivalent or otherwise the server will never know what to do with the files marked with a .php extension. ASP as well as ASP.NET also requires an engine but these are usually included in the IIS system for the Windows based web server operating systems.
Irregardless of whether one uses the basic server side include engine to produce dynamic content on static HTML files, or whether you are using the latest released version of PHP or Ruby, the outcome is always the same and that is the functionality and interactive capabilities of a website are improved through the use of dynamically created, managed and controlled content. None of this would be possible without the use of server side functionality that allows the pages themselves to interact with other files whether it is but a simple text file or even a complex database .sql file. Original Authors: Nick
Edit Update Authors: M.A.Harris
Updated On: 30/01/2009