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Cookies Explained


Finally, a cookie you don't have to bake! Unfortunately, you can't eat it, either. Here is an excerpt from our friends at About.com on the subject of these mysterious "cookies." To learn even more about cookies, please browse through their extensive documentation on the subject, but this explanation should suffice. Please feel free to go SHOPPING when you're through or go back to the product line descriptions!

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Cookies are, according to Netscape, "a general mechanism which server side connections (such as CGI scripts) can use to both store and retrieve information on the client side of the connection."

But what does that mean? Basically, it comes down to the way that Web pages are built from the server to the browser. Every time you create a new page, the server starts the page from scratch, losing all information that may have been gathered from a previous page. When you fill in a form, the server takes your entries and interprets them based on the CGI to present you with the next page. However, if you then need to go to a third page, the information gathered on the first page is lost to the server, unless it is saved in some fashion.

The most common method to save information is in hidden fields. These are passed to the server along with all the other form entries. But hidden fields require that you always stay within the CGI so that they aren't lost. 

Then along came cookies. Cookies gave Web developers the ability to save information from forms onto the client machine. Since you are filling out the form or buying the merchandise, storing the information you provide on your machine seemed a good solution. It is more secure than hidden fields, and it allows you to go anywhere on a Web site and not lose the information.

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