Evolution of the ATL Server XML

In the early days of the Web, Web pages were static in nature. This implies that the content displayed in a static Web page couldn't change. In addition, static Web pages that used HTML alone were not interactive; therefore, they could not retain users' attention for a long time. As a result, dynamic Web pages that could present data from an external source, such as a database, were developed. The content in such a Web page is dynamic; therefore, when the data in the underlying data source is changed, the modified data can be reflected in the dynamic Web page.

You can create dynamic Web pages in several ways. You learned to create dynamic Web pages by using Visual Studio .NET in "Building Web Applications on the .NET Platform." You can also create dynamic Web pages by using Common Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts and applications.

CGI applications are compiled applications that are developed by using languages, such as C or C++. The CGI technology is used to create high-performance applications that are deployed on servers based on operating systems, such as Unix.

Deploying CGI applications on servers using the Windows platform is an overhead. This is because CGI applications are executable files created using various programming languages. Whenever a CGI application is deployed on a Windows environment, the operating system assigns a process to the file. Processes require a large number of resources; therefore, they increase the overall cost of deploying the application. In addition, the process overhead associated with each CGI call makes CGI applications non scalable. Therefore, to create high-performance multithreaded Web applications for the Windows platform, Microsoft came up with the Internet Services Application Programming Interface (ISAPI) technology. ISAPI is an API that extends the functionality of the Web server, such as IIS.

Although ISAPI applications are high-performance applications, they are not widely used because Visual C++ 6.0 offers limited support for creating ISAPI applications. As a solution to this problem, Microsoft created an MFC-based wizard for ISAPI extensions. However, the wizard did not include support for standard Web features, such as session management and cookies. In addition, the wizard did not provide a built-in support for accessing database from the application. To provide a solution in the form of a simpler COM component development environment, Microsoft developed the ATL Server. The following section provides an overview of the ATL Server.


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