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Chapter 2
Getting Started

This chapter provides an overview of what a typical server-side JavaScript application looks like, and it shows you how to set up your system for server-side development.

This chapter contains the following sections:

Architecture of JavaScript Applications

As discussed in earlier sections, JavaScript applications have portions that run on the client and on the server. In addition, many JavaScript applications use the LiveWire Database Service to connect the application to a relational database. For this reason, you can think of JavaScript applications as having a three-tier client-server architecture, as illustrated in Figure 2.1.

Figure 2.1   Architecture of the client-server JavaScript application environment

The three tiers are:

The JavaScript client-side environment runs as part of WWW clients, and the JavaScript server-side environment runs as part of a Netscape web server with access to one or more database servers. Figure 2.2 shows more detail of how the server-side JavaScript environment, and applications built for this environment, fit into the Netscape web server.

The top part of Figure 2.2 shows how server-side JavaScript fits into a Netscape web server. Inside the web server, the server-side JavaScript runtime environment is built from three main components which are listed below. The JavaScript Application Manager then runs on top of server-side JavaScript, as do the sample applications provided by Netscape (such as the videoapp application) and any applications you create.

Figure 2.2   Server-side JavaScript in the Netscape server environment

These are the three primary components of the JavaScript runtime environment:

In general, a JavaScript application can contain statements interpreted by the client (with the JavaScript interpreter provided with Netscape Navigator or some other web browser) and by the server (with the JavaScript runtime engine just discussed).

When you run a JavaScript application, a variety of things occur, some on the server and some on the client. Although the end user does not need to know the details, it is important for you, the application developer, to understand what happens "under the hood."

In creating your application, you write HTML pages that can contain both server-side and client-side JavaScript statements. In the source code HTML, client-side JavaScript is delimited by the SCRIPT tag and server-side JavaScript by the SERVER tag.

You can also write files that contain only JavaScript statements and no HTML tags. A JavaScript file can contain either client-side JavaScript or server-side JavaScript; a single file cannot contain both client-side and server-side objects or functions.

If the HTML and JavaScript files contain server-side JavaScript, you then compile them into a single JavaScript application executable file. The executable is called a web file and has the extension .web. The JavaScript application compiler turns the source code HTML into platform-independent bytecodes, parsing and compiling server-side JavaScript statements.

Finally, you deploy your application on your web server and use the JavaScript Application Manager to install and start the application, so that users can access your application.

At runtime, when a client requests a page from a server-side JavaScript application, the runtime engine locates the representation of that file in the application's web file. It runs all the server code found and creates an HTML page to send to the client. That page can contain both regular HTML tags and client-side JavaScript statements. All server code is run on the server, before the page goes to the client and before any of the HTML or client-side JavaScript is executed. Consequently, your server-side code cannot use any client-side objects, nor can your client-side code use any server-side objects.

For more details, see Chapter 12, "Basics of Server-Side JavaScript."

System Requirements

To develop and run JavaScript applications that take advantage of both client-side and server-side JavaScript, you need appropriate development and deployment environments. In general, it is recommended that you develop applications on a system other than your deployment (production) server because development consumes resources (for example, communications ports, bandwidth, processor cycles, and memory). Development might also disrupt end-user applications that have already been deployed.

A JavaScript development environment consists of

The development tools needed include:

The development and deployment machines require the following software:

In addition, if your application uses JavaScript's LiveWire Database Service, you need the following:

Configuration Information

This section provides configuration information for using server-side JavaScript. For additional information on setting up your database to work with the LiveWire Database Service, see Chapter 17, "Configuring Your Database."

Enabling Server-Side JavaScript

To run JavaScript applications on your server, you must enable the JavaScript runtime engine from your Server Manager by clicking Programs and then choosing server-side JavaScript. At the prompt "Activate the JavaScript application environment?", choose Yes and click OK. You are also asked about restricting access to the Application Manager. For more information, see "Protecting the Application Manager" on page 47.

NOTE: If you do not enable the JavaScript runtime engine, JavaScript applications cannot run on the server.
Once you activate the JavaScript application environment, you must stop and restart your web server for the associated environment variables to take effect. If you do not, JavaScript applications that use the LiveWire Database Service will not run.

Protecting the Application Manager

The Application Manager provides control over JavaScript applications. Because of its special capabilities, you should protect it from unauthorized access. If you don't restrict access to the Application Manager, anyone can add, remove, modify, start, and stop applications on your server. This can have undesirable consequences.

You (the JavaScript application developer) need to have permission to use the Application Manager on your development server, because you use it to work with the application as you develop it. Your web server administrator, however, may choose to not give you this access to the deployment server.

When you enable the JavaScript runtime engine in the Server Manager, a prompt asks you whether to restrict access to the Application Manager. Choose Yes to do so, then click OK. (Yes is the default.) After this point, anyone attempting to access the Application Manager must enter the Server Manager user name and password to use the Application Manager and the dbadmin sample application. For more information, see the administrator's guide for your web server.

If your server is not using the Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), the user name and password for the Application Manager are transmitted unencrypted over the network. An intruder who intercepts this data can get access to the Application Manager. If you use the same password for your administration server, the intruder will also have control of your server. Therefore, it is recommended that you do not use the Application Manager outside your firewall unless you use SSL. For instructions on how to turn on SSL for your server, see the administrator's guide for your web server.

Setting Up for LiveConnect

Netscape web servers include Java classes you can use with JavaScript. The installation procedures for these servers put those classes in the $NSHOME\js\samples directory, where $NSHOME is the directory in which you installed the server. The installation procedure also modifies the web server's CLASSPATH environment variable to automatically include this directory.

You must either install your Java classes in this same directory or modify the CLASSPATH environment variable of the server to include the location of your Java classes. In addition, the CLASSPATH environment variable of the process in which you compile the Java classes associated with your JavaScript application must also include the location of your Java classes.

Remember, if you use the Admin Server to start your web server, you'll have to set CLASSPATH before you start the Admin Server. Alternatively, you can directly modify the obj.conf file for your web server. For information on this file, see your web server's administrator's guide.

On NT, if you modify CLASSPATH and you start the server using the Services panel of the control panel, you must reboot your machine after you set CLASSPATH in the System panel of the control panel.

Locating the Compiler

Installation of a Netscape server does not change your PATH environment variable to include the directory in which the JavaScript application compiler is installed. If you want to be able to easily refer to the location of the compiler, you must modify this environment variable.

On Unix systems, you have various choices on how to change your PATH environment variable. You can add $NSHOME/bin/https, where $NSHOME is the directory in which you installed the server. See your system administrator for information on how to do so.

To change your NT system path, start the Control Panel application, locate the System dialog box, and set the PATH variable in the Environment settings to include the %NSHOME%\bin\https, where NSHOME is the directory in which you installed the server.

If you move the JavaScript application compiler to a different directory, you must add that directory to your PATH environment variable.

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Last Updated: 11/12/98 15:29:09

Copyright 1998 Netscape Communications Corporation

Any sample code included above is provided for your use on an "AS IS" basis, under the Netscape License Agreement - Terms of Use