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Bath, Snake or Nag?

If you're running a web application through a number of phases , you've a choice of three ways of keeping information from one page to the next (keywords - sessions, shopping carts!).

You can use a bathtub - each time history (data) is entered, it gets added to a collection which gets passed back and forth every time between the browser and the server, until you can have a lot of data sloshing around, rather like you have with water in a bath if you move, ever so gently, up and down at the same speed as the natural motion of the waves; a series of small movements lead to some quite dramatic larger movements.

A snake is a single piece of information being passed back and forth - I could use the analogy of the ball in a tennis rally if you prefer - and that piece of information is a unique identifier which gives a key into a database or a file name on the server.

And a nag is someone - a browser - who keep coming back with "it's me again".

Let me translate each of those into a technology / protocol method. The Bathtub is hidden fields, the snake is a single hidden field with data being stored on the server in a session, and the nag is a cookie based session. The problem with a snake or a tennis rally is that once you've broken it, you can't get back and carry on with same rally or reptile so in web terms, you can't break away from a series of pages and then come back and expect to carry on - you have to start anew. And since the Bath is based on the snake, this limitation applies there too.

Which leave you with the "nag" - the cookie. Now we sometimes get a bit short with a nag, just like we're sometimes less that thrilled to accept certain cookies - but nagging can be a very effective way of getting things done, can't it?
(written 2008-08-06, updated 2008-08-07)

Associated topics are indexed as below, or enter http://melksh.am/nnnn for individual articles
H301 - PHP - Sticky fields and session
  [4070] Passing variable between PHP pages - hidden fields, cookies and sessions - (2013-04-26)
  [3918] Multiple page web applications - maintaining state - PHP - (2012-11-10)
  [3820] PHP sessions - a best practice teaching example - (2012-07-27)
  [3540] Easy session example in PHP - keeping each customers data apart - (2011-12-06)
  [2738] What is all this SESSION stuff about? (PHP) - (2010-04-25)
  [2416] Automating access to a page obscured behind a holding page - (2009-09-23)
  [1911] Remember Me - PHP - (2008-11-28)
  [1766] Diagrams to show you how - Tomcat, Java, PHP - (2008-08-22)

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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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