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The pros and cons of server-side scripting

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Script is the code that enables web pages to show something other than static content, in other words, dynamic content. Dynamic content is content that can change on a website based on the person viewing it, depending on their location, device, previous internet history etc. Scripting is the process by which the interactive elements of a web page are retrieved from the website’s data store.

There are two types of scripting; client side scripting and server-side scripting. The names themselves are pretty self-explanatory. Client side is where the transformation of the script is carried out once it reaches the consumer-end of the process, when it reaches the web browser. Server-side scripting is where the transformation occurs at the storage-end of the process, and then it is sent to the consumer-end where it appears as a web page. This uses languages such as PHP, ASP, .NET and Python. There are pros and cons to both types of scripting, but here we’re just going to discuss server-side scripting.

Pros

  • Can retrieve files from a large database, so is useful for sites storing a large amount of data.
  • Source code is never revealed to the consumer, meaning that there is often greater protection of information on the site.
  • Client side scripting requires browser plugins and scripting technology such as JavaScript. Not only can this make the customer-experience poor due to slow loading, but some browsers don’t support JavaScript at all.
  • Certain languages can be configured to run CMS applications such as WordPress, allowing relative novices to create and upload content without the need for coding (although read our advice on this).

Cons

  • Due to information being retrieved on the server, it places more demands on a website’s server than client side scripting. You’ll need to think about better hosting methods such as dedicated hosting if you’re using server-side scripting.
  • Dynamic data needs to be stored on a database, and this needs regular backing up and good security measures Whilst not necessarily an issue, this may be more time consuming and costly than client side scripting.
  • Requires pages to be refreshed in order to show the dynamic content, although a newer method called Ajax has allowed developers to update pages without the need to reload the entire content of the site.

Server-side scripting has enabled the web content to be the way we see it today and client side scripting is becoming less and less common. Do you have anything else to add to the pros or cons list for server-side scripting, let us know in the comments below?

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