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Name: [011] John Montgomery
Member: 126 months
Authored: 21 videos
Description: I'm a C/C++, Java and Python programmer living in Hove, UK. ...

Using Python's CGIHTTPServer module to run CGI scripts [ID:646] (2/6)

in series: Introduction to Python web-programming: CGI

(Showmedo is undergoing major changes. To report any problems viewing the videos please email us and include browser and OS specifics. Cheers - Kyran.)

In this ShowMeDo I demonstrate how you can use Python's CGIHTTPServer module to run a simple web server that will handle CGI (wikipedia) scripts.

I then proceed to create a simple "Hello World" Python CGI script and show it being run via a web browser.

from CGIHTTPServer import CGIHTTPRequestHandler
from BaseHTTPServer import HTTPServer

httpd = HTTPServer(server_address, CGIHTTPRequestHandler)

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Thanks. That helped. I had a bit of trouble understanding some of the spoken words. Perhaps you could intentionally speak more slowly when technical phrases or terms-of-art are being used, instead of speeding up through them.

Woops. I meant to post a comment here and instead posted it on video 1. Any thoughts on why the page won't load in Chrome? I realize this may not be very relevant to the tutorial, no obligation to answer unless you have an easy already known response.

Very simple and to the point video. Just what I was looking for!

Hi John, thanks for the great vids.

I understand the simple python server isn't for "real world" usage, but what if we do want to use python in a production setting? Is there an apache module? How do you set it up?




Well if you wanted to use Python CGI stuff in the "real world" you probably wouldn't run it via the little Python server used before. It'd be ok if you were just using it at home or similar, but it's probably not suitable for wider use. Also in terms of hosting you'd be more likely to be able to run CGI scripts via apache (which helps avoid having to open up different ports etc).

As for security - well this style of web programming provides very little baked-in security. As a very direct way of doing stuff you have to consider the fact that anything that you write could go wrong. So when you read information from the user you have to make sure you've validated it.

In particular you have to be careful when reading/writing files, starting new processes, talking to databases and outputting html to the user. There are plenty of guides out there to web programming security, but key types to investigate are:

* SQL Injection

* Cross-site scripting exploit

* Cross-site request forgery

There are other types to worry about, but these will give you an idea of things to watch out for. They are also not specific to Python and/or CGI programming - all web-programming has to deal with these kinds of exploits.

Wow! I had no idea that Python was so powerful, that I could run a simple web server in basically 5 lines of code. I was able to take a large .html page I had made before, and stick sections of the text in string variables (like strVar = ''' my text '''), and have an entire web page recreated on the fly from the variables. I learnt a lot in basically just 15 minutes, and only 2 videos! Excellent. I can't wait to finish the series, but I have to leave for home now.

Please discuss more on the security risks of this type of easy server. I want to do a lot of work with this type of quick server.

Hi Steve,

you'll need to enter the full URL directly. e.g.

Basically by default the server won't let you list the contents of the /cgi-bin/ directory, so you'll have to go direct to the relevant file.



Problem in lesson 2 using Win XP. I start the webserver running I then input into the browser and can see the folders in the browser. However, if I click on the cgi-bin folder, I get the following error response:

Error code 403.

Message: CGI script is not a plain file ('/cgi-bin/').

Error code explanation: 403 = Request forbidden -- authorization will not help.

This is the content of in the folder cgi-bin:


print "HTTP/1.0 200 OK"

print "Content-Type: text/html"


print "<b>"

print "Hello World!"

print "</b>"

What am I doing wrong???

Steve Rose

cool! works easily on xp. I didn't realize I could run a little cgi server on xp. I don't know its limitations and how fully it simulates serverside situation. But for this type of example, it is easier and less annoying than uploading little py test progs to my website & running them.

Solid video. I would have liked seeing you show us the source code that the browser actually renders.


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Kudos and Thanks for John

The 'Hello World' Applet - Part 1

Thanks very helpful!


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