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What is SSI Hosting?

Server Side Includes (SSI) is not a specific type of hosting, but rather a simple server-side scripting language. SSI is an easy way to regularly update small pieces of information within a larger, static HTML website.

How Does SSI Work?

SSI works by embedding scripts into the HTML code of a Web content file. The server then evaluates these directives and updates the content before displaying the page to the user. This dynamically generated content does not require a Common Gateway Interface (CGI) program to serve the entire page every time it is viewed. As a result, users experience faster server performance.

When a page containing SSI is served, the viewer will see the coding language as a real value, such as the current date or time or a navigation menu. As a fast way to modify frequently updated content, SSI is ideal for presenting an active and relevant image. One example of content that may benefit from SSI is a daily quotation featured in a header or footer—all you have to do is alter the quotation file, and the change will be reflected throughout your site.

What Web Servers Support SSI Markup Language?

Currently, there are four different types of web servers that process SSI. They are:

  • Apache
  • IIS
  • lighttpd
  • nginx

Common SSI Directives Glossary

Below is a glossary of the 12 most common SSI directives.

  • include: for a file or a virtual parameter (HTML page, script, text file), this directive allows content from one document to be included in another. The most used SSI directive.
  • exec: for a cgi or cmd parameter, this directive executes a program, script, or shell command on the server.
  • echo: for a variable parameter, this directive displays the contents of a specified HTTP environment document.
  • config: for date, time, file size, and error message parameters, this directive configures display formats.
  • flastmod: for file or virtual parameters, this directive displays the date a document was last modified.
  • fsize: for file or virtual parameters, this directive displays the size of a specific document.
  • if: an expression parameter used for condition tests that may determine and generate multiple logical pages from one single physical page.
  • printenv: this directive produces a list of all variables and their values, including environmental and user-defined variables.
  • elif: an expression parameter that serves the same purpose as further conditioning.
  • else: things happen after ‘else’ if none of the if and elif directive catch the present condition.
  • endif
  • set: a variable or value parameter present in both Apache and lighttpd that sets the value of an SSI variable.
  • Final Thoughts On SSI

    SSI is easy, efficient, and typically cost effective. It can require a little extra work in the beginning, but if you have files that require frequent updating, it can save you a great deal of time and effort when maintaining your site.

    Generally, your host will support the use of SSI on your site as a part of your hosting package, though it is up to webmasters and administrators to create the appropriate files. The standard is to give HTML files containing SSI an .shtml extension for swift processing from the server. An Apache handler may also be helpful for accurate server processing. Check with your host for details.

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