Several server-side technologies exist today,the first solution to bringing dynamic data to the Web was CGI, the Common Gateway Interface. CGI provided a simple way to create a Web application that accepts user input, queries a database, and returns responses to the client. Then, both Microsoft and Netscape developed proprietary, server-specific API’s to answer inefficiencies of CGI (especially its poor scalability). However, these API’s were limited to a particular platform in web application development.
Furthermore, these API’s reduced the stability of the server due to the fact that their programs had to run within the same process as the Web server. The next step in the continuing development of server-side technologies was Microsoft’s Active Server Pages (ASP), and Sun’s Java Servlets and Java Server Pages (JSP). Implementations for JSP and Servlets are available on many platforms, and they provide a good way of separating code and HTML to increase maintainability.
JSP and Servlets have become today’s most popular way of serverside programming for enterprise applications, while ASP dominates among smaller sites. An effort to improve Microsoft’s position in the server-side application development market was made with the introduction of the .NET platform in 2000. The goal of .NET was to regain some of the market that was lost to Sun Microsystems due to the superior concept of Servlets/JSP over ASP. Sun, on the other hand, recently announced Sun ONE to compete with the .NET strategy, showing that server-side programming is still evolving and improving at a rapid pace. Since the server-side application development market is still evolving, developers are confronted with the difficulty of having to work with constantly changing techniques, and having to make the right choice of which development platform to use.
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