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Dynamic Websites

Dynamic Websites

A dynamic web page is a kind of web page  that has been prepared with fresh information (content and/or layout), for each individual viewing. It is not static because it changes with the time (ex. a news content), the user (ex. preferences in a login session), the user interaction (ex. web page game), the context (parametric customization), or any combination of the foregoing.

Properties associated with dynamic web pages

Classical hypertext navigation occurs among "static" documents, and, for web users, this experience is reproduced using static web pages, meaning that a page retrieved by different users at different times is always the same, in the same form.

However, a web page can also provide a live user experience. Content (text, images, form fields, etc.) on a web page can change in response to different contexts or conditions. In dynamic sites, page content and page layout are created separately. The content is retrieved from a database and is placed on a web page only when needed or asked. This allows for quicker page loading, and it allows just about anyone with limited web design experience to update their own website via an administrative tool. This set-up is ideal for those who wish to make frequent changes to their websites including text and image updates, e.g. e-commerce.

Two types of Dynamic Websites

Client-side scripting and content creation

Using client-side scripting to change interface behaviors within a specific web page, in response to mouse or keyboard actions or at specified timing events. In this case the dynamic behavior occurs within the presentation.

Such web pages use presentation technology called rich interfaced pages. Client-side scripting languages like JavaScript or ActionScript, used for Dynamic HTML (DHTML) and Flash technologies respectively, are frequently used to orchestrate media types (sound, animations, changing text, etc.) of the presentation. The scripting also allows use of remote scripting, a technique by which the DHTML page requests additional information from a server, using a hidden Frame, XMLHttpRequests, or a Web service.

The Client-side content is generated on the user's computer. The web browser retrieves a page from the server, then processes the code embedded in the page (often written in JavaScript) and displays the retrieved page's content to the user.

The innerHTML property (or write command) can illustrate the client-side dynamic page generation: two distinct pages, A and B, can be regenerated as document.innerHTML = A and document.innerHTML = B; or "on load dynamic" by document.write(A) and document.write(B).

The first "widespread used" version of JavaScript was 1996 (with Netscape 3 an ECMAscript standard).


Server-side scripting and content creation

Using server-side scripting to change the supplied page source between pages, adjusting the sequence or reload of the web pages or web content supplied to the browser. Server responses may be determined by such conditions as data in a posted HTML form, parameters in the URL, the type of browser being used, the passage of time, or a database or server state.

Such web pages are often created with the help of server-side languages such as PHP, Perl, ASP, ASP.NET, JSP, ColdFusion and other languages. These server-side languages typically use the Common Gateway Interface (CGI) to produce dynamic web pages. These kinds of pages can also use, on the client-side, the first kind (DHTML, etc.).

Server-side dynamic content is more complicated: (1) The client sends the server the request. (2) The server receives the request and processes the server-side script such as [PHP] based on the query string, HTTP POST data, cookies, etc.

The dynamic page generation was made possible by the Common Gateway Interface, stable in 1993. Then Server Side Includes pointed a more direct way to deal with server-side scripts, at the web servers.


Combining client and server side

Ajax is a web development technique for dynamically interchanging content with the server-side, without reloading the web page. Google Maps is an example of a web application that uses Ajax techniques and database.


Search engines work by creating indexes of published HTML web pages that were, initially, "static". With the advent of dynamic web pages, often created from a private database, the content is less visible[1]. Unless this content is duplicated in some way (for example, as a series of extra static pages on the same site), a search may not find the information it is looking for. It is unreasonable to expect generalized web search engines to be able to access complex database structures, some of which in any case may be secure.

It is difficult to be precise about "dynamic web page beginnings" or chronology, because the precise concept makes sense only after the "widespread development of web pages": HTTP protocol has been in use since 1990, HTML, as standard, since 1996. The web browsers explosion started with 1993's Mosaic.

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