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Allegro CL version 8.1

Allegro Webactions
v1.7

copyright(c) 2003-2004. Franz Inc

This is the Webactions documentation as of the current release of Allegro CL. It is provided for convenience but the Webactions documentation is regularly updated. We recommend that users use the latest version, available at http://opensource.franz.com/aserve/aserve-dist/webactions/doc/webactions.html. That version is always the most up-to-date. AllegroServe, including Webactions, is available from http://opensource.franz.com/. The Webactions tutorial is using-webactions.html. See also the AllegroServe documentation aserve/aserve.html.

Table of Contents

Introduction
Loading Webactions
Common Lisp Server Pages
  Processing a clp file
  clp elements with bodies
  parsing clp files
  clp tag and function names
  The Lisp side of clp
Webactions
  Webaction project
   classes used in Webactions
   Storing Values
   Lisp functions for Webactions
   Library of clp functions
   

Introduction

Most of the web sites people visit again and again are dynamic. These pages range from pages containing static data and a dynamically selected banner ad to pages full of personalized content, such as a search page returned by Google.  AllegroServe offers two different ways of creating dynamic pages. The most general is the publish function which allows the programmer to completely generate the response to an http request.  Also the publish-multi function creates pages that are a mixture of static data and data generated by a lisp function. It's possible to build a large dynamic web site using just these functions but it does require that you have a lot of programming talent at your disposal. It's far easier to find html designers than Lisp programmers and so we designed a method of building large dynamic web sites in AllegroServe that uses mainly html designers with some support from Lisp programmers. This is the purpose of Common Lisp Server Pages (or clp) and Webactions.

Webactions is the framework used to describe the whole site and to control access to pages in the site.    clp files provide a way of mixing static and dynamic html that works well with the webaction framework.   We'll describe clp pages first and then the webaction framework.

Please see the document Using Webactions for further background information on webactions.


Loading Webactions

In order to load in Webactions you should (require :webactions).   This will load in AllegroServe if it isn't already loaded.  The functions in Webactions are exported from the net.aserve package.

Common Lisp Server Pages

Common Lisp Server Pages is modeled after similar designs for other languages: Java Server Pages, Active Server Pages, Personal Home Pages (PHP) and others.

A Common Lisp Server Page file looks just like an html file.  In fact the format is the same as html.  We've extended html by allowing new tags which cause extended functionality to be invoked.

The key features of clp are:

Processing a clp file

This is a sample clp file:

<html>
<body>
You are using this browser: <http_header-value name="User-Agent"/>
<br>
How do you like it?
</body>
</html>

You'll notice two unusual things in the file.  One is the tag http_header-value, which you've never seen before.  The other is that tag ends in "/>", which is the xml and xhtml way of specifying that this html element has no body.   It's equivalent to writing the pure html:

<http_header-value name="User-Agent"></http_header-value>

The tag http_header-value names  a clp function.   A clp function is written in Lisp and is run during the time this page is sent back to the browser.   Thus when this page is retrieved by a browser, the result  is that all the text in the file up to the http_header-value tag would be sent directly to the browser.  Next the http_header-value function would be run and it will emit html which will be sent back to the browser.  Finally the text after the http_header-value tag will be sent to the browser.

The clp function http_header-value is supplied with AllegroServe.  As its name suggests it retrieves the value from an http header in the request and then emits the value as html.   In our sample file we're retrieving the value of the User-Agent header which describes which http client is making the request.

A user accessing this page would see something like this in his browser:

You are using this browser: Firefox 1.5
How do you like it?



clp elements with bodies

The example above uses a clp element with no body.  This is what you'll typically find in use.   However there are situations where you want to give the element a body, the most notable one being when you want a clp function to determine which parts of a clp file are sent back to the browser.   For example

<clp_ifdef name="winner" session> You are the Winner! </clp_ifdef>
<clp_ifndef name="winner" session > Sorry, you lost </clp_ifndef>


This clp file fragment checks to see if the session state has a variable named winner defined and if it does it includes the appropriate text.  If winner is not defined then it includes the loser message.    The clp_ifdef and clp_ifndef functions are supplied with AllegroServe.

One problem with using conditional inclusion of text is that an html editor's view of the clp file will include both versions of the text since it ignores unknown tags like clp_ifdef.   Thus you'll have to balance the power of using conditional text inclusion against the problems it creates in that your html  editor can't display the final product.

parsing clp files


Before a clp file can be used to generate a response to an http request it must be parsed.   The parsing function is very simple and  is in fact more like pattern matching than traditional parsing.  The parser simply locates all calls to clp functions in the file and separates them from the text that is sent back verbatim as part of the response.    A clp file is parsed when it's first referenced in an http request and the results  of the parse are cached   The clp file is not parsed again unless the file is updated on disk.

clp tag and function names


The clp parser has to be able to distinguish clp  tags from html tags and from tags that are neither clp tags nor valid html tags.   The parser may encounter a clp tag referencing a clp function that's not yet defined (in Lisp we don't require that a function be defined before we'll recognize a call to that function).   The problem then is determining whether a given tag in the file is a call to a clp function or a name that could be used as a clp function in the future.   The strategy employed is the following:  A clp function name has two parts: a module name and the name of the function within the module.  These names are separated by an underscore.  Thus http_header-value is the header-value function in the http module.   The clp parser only has to look closely at tags with an underscore in them.   In order to tell if such a tag is a clp function name the parser looks only at the module name.   If the module name is of a currently known module then that  name is considered to be a clp function name.
Thus before you start running your web site you should define at least one clp function in each module you intend to use.    You can define the other functions later (and you likely will if you are building your site and testing it incrementally).


The Lisp side of clp


(def-clp-function name (req ent args body) &rest function-body)

This macro defines a clp function with the given name.   Name can be a string or a symbol (in which case the downcased version of the symbol-name is used).  The name must include an underscore between two of the characters (this separates the module name from the function-with-the-module name).    When called the function takes four arguments and we've shown above the names we suggest be used for those four arguments.   req and ent are the familiar  request and entity values passed to all http response functions.    Args is an alist of attribute names and values found in the start tag that invoked this function.  For example given the tag

<mod_sample name="foo" value="24">

the value of args would be

(("name" . "foo") ("value" . "24"))

The fourth argument, body, is passed the parsed version of the of the body of the element, that is the text that appears between the start and end tags in the clp file.    A clp function is not supposed to examine the value of body.  It should do one of two things with body.  It can just ignore the value in which case the text and calls to clp functions  between the start and end tags are ignored and not sent as part of the response to the web browser.   Alternatively it can cause the body to be sent back as part of the response by calling (emit-clp-entity req ent body).

The function-body is the code that's run when the clp function is called.   It should emit html just like the code in a normal http response function.  Often this is done with the html macro.   The value returned by this function is unimportant.



(emit-clp-entity req ent body)

This is used inside a clp function to cause the contents of  body to be processed as a parsed clp file.    This will result in strings being sent to the html stream (and thus back to the browser) and it will cause clp functions to be run.     The only place this function should be used is inside a clp function.



Webactions

Webactions is a framework for building dynamic web sites.   Dynamic webs sites are difficult to build as they require more than html can provide, such as

  1. sessions - the web site must follow each user as they move around the site, perhaps picking up products and placing them in their virtual shopping cart.   This is accomplished by associating a session object in the web server with each distinct user.
  2. database backed - the dynamic web site is often just a user interface to a database.     Shopping sites display products found in the store's database and add orders to the store's database.  It's useful to separate out the code that operates on the database and the code that displays the current state of the database.
  3. complex linking - there are many paths through an online store as goods are selected and finally an order is made.   Keeping track of these links is very hard as the site gets large. You need some way of keeping track of the layout of the whole site.

The webactions framework supports a programming methodology called Model View Controller (or MVC).   In a dynamic web application the pieces are these:

  1. Model - this is the  code that implements the data objects being manipulated by users of the web site.  In an online store the model includes the notions of a shopping cart and orders and so on.    This is the code that must be written specifically for the objects being modeled.
  2. View - the html pages that show the user a view of the model.  These pages are usually clp pages in the webaction framework.   There will be some clp functions to implement the dynamic parts of the pages.
  3. Controller - the code that accepts user input and passes control to the model to process the input and finally selects a  view to send back to the user.   This code is supplied with the webaction framework.

A designer of a webactions-based web site will write or reuse Lisp code to implement the Model.   For the View he'll write clp functions in Lisp  to support the clp pages written in html.   He'll use the the Controller code supplied with Webactions.


Webaction project


A Webaction based web site is defined by a call to the webaction-project macro.  

(webaction-project name &key project-prefix clp-suffixes map destination index
                   sessions session-lifetime reap-interval reap-hook-function server authorizer
                   host access-file clp-content-type external-format)


webaction-project creates project data structures and executes calls to publish to make the project exist on the server.  

The arguments are
name - a string naming the project.   The name is used to ensure that if webaction-project is called again with the same name,   the project by that name is redefined rather than creating a new project.   Also the name is used as the name of the cookie that's used to track sessions in this project.   Since this is a cookie name too the name should use just alphabetic and numeric characters.
project-prefix - a string which specifies the  prefix of all urls in the project.   The prefix should be a string beginning and  ending in the forward-slash character, such as  "/myproject/" .  It's legal to use the one character string "/".    What this means is that all url's beginning with this prefix are assumed to be part of this project and are treated specially.
clp-suffixes -  a list of strings naming the suffixes of files, which if found inside the project, are assumed to be clp files.   By default the value of clp-suffixes is a list of the string "clp".   You may wish to add "htm" or "html" to this list if you want those files to be parsed as clp files when referenced inside this project.
map - an assoc list of the symbolic page name and how that page is generated.  This will be described in detail below.
destination - the location on the filesystem where the files that make up this project are to be found.    This can be the empty string "" or the name of  a directory on the machine.  If you name a directory be sure that the name ends in "/".
index -  the symbolic page name of the main page of this project (also known as the index or root page).   webaction-project will redirect to this page if a request comes in for a url which is just the project-prefix.    If the project-prefix is  "/foo/" and the index is "home" then a request for  "/foo" or "/foo/" will be redirected to "/foo/home"
sessions - if true (which is the default value) then track access to the pages of the project so that all accesses from a given web browser are assigned a unique websession object.
session-lifetime - if the session hasn't been accessed in this many seconds, remove the session object from the internal table of sessions, allowing it to be garbage collected.  The default session lifetime is 18000 seconds (i.e. five hours).
reap-interval - the number of seconds between checks to see if any sessions have expired and should be removed.   Specifying this variable sets a global variable (since all webaction projects share the same session reaping process).   The default value is  300 seconds (i.e. five minutes).
reap-hook-function - a function of one argument, a websession object.  This is called when a session is about to be destroyed due to no reference to this session for the session-lifetime.   If this function returns a non-nil value then the session will not be reaped and instead the session will be treated as if it was just reference and thus it will be kept alive for another session-lifetime.   One common use for this function is to deallocate objects associated with the session that won't be recovered by the Lisp garbage collector when the session is garbage collected.
server - this is the wserver object into which this project will be published.   It defaults to the value of *wserver*.
authorizer - an authorizer object that will be associated with all entities created in this project.
host - the value for the host argument to the publish function used to establish the project
access-file - the filename of the access file(s) found in the project's directory.   See the documentation for AllegroServe's publish-directory for details on access-files.
clp-content-type - a string holding the content type for all clp files published in this project.  The default is "text/html".
external-format - the external format used when sending data back to the browser.   The default is the value of *default-aserve-external-format*


A web site is  a collection of pages and images,  each page with references to images and with links to other pages.   The pages may be static or may be generated by programs.   The links  and image references may be within the web site or to other web sites.   In a webaction web site we further distinguish managed pages from unmanaged pages.  Session information is maintained as long as the user visits a sequence of managed pages.  If a user visits an unmanaged page and then follows a link to a managed page, the user may end up in a new session.     Thus when designing a webaction web site it's important to keep the user on managed pages until the session information is no longer important.

A clp file is a managed page.   An html file that's not a clp file is an unmanaged page.   A page generated by a Lisp function  is a managed page if it uses the locate-action-path function to compute the url's for href and action attributes in the page it generates.  Otherwise it's an unmanaged page.

The reason that there's a distinction between managed and unmanaged pages is that if the browser doesn't accept cookies then the only way that session information can be maintained is through url rewriting, and only managed pages have the support for url rewriting.

Every managed page is named by a distinct Lisp string we call the symbolic name of the page.    All references to pages in clp files and in clp functions is to the symbolic name of the page rather than the url of the page.   The map argument to webaction-project associates the symbolic name of a page with the steps needed to render the page.

A symbolic page name can refer to a managed page, an unmanaged page or an action.   An action is a Lisp function which performs some operation and returns a symbolic page name.   Earlier we talked about the Model View Controller methodology.   In MVC terms, the action functions are operations on the Model.    An action function should not generate any html, that's the responsibility of the View code.

Maps

The map argument specifies what steps are taken to process a request for  a symbolic page.   In this section we'll describe the complete syntax of the map value.  If you're just learning Webactions you'll probably want to skip to the Simple  Maps section and then come back to this section when you're done reading the rest of the document.  


The value of the map argument is  a list of map entries:

( map-entry1 map-entry2  map-entry3 ....)

Each map entry is  a list beginning with a symbolic page name and followed by items which specify which actions to run, which view to render and a set of flag values that apply to this entry.   In pseudo-bnf the form of a map entry is:

("symbolic page name"  item* [ (:flag1 value1  ... ...) ] )

In our psuedo-bnf, the '*' means zero or more occurrences.  The square brackets mean zero or one occurrence.

An item can be a symbol or a string.   If an item is a symbol it names a lisp function which is either an action function or a view function.  If the item is a string then it either names a file to send back to the browser or a symbolic page name.

An action function may modify the Model behind the website and then it returns either  a string naming a symbolic page name, as a string naming a file to send back to the browser,  or the keyword symbol :continue meaning go on to the next item in the map entry.
A view function will generate a response to the http request (which usually means sending html  to the browser).  A view function returns nil meaning that this request has been processed and there's nothing more for webactions to do.

These are some typical map entries

("home" "homepage.clp")
("login" action-do-login "home")
("letter" action-check-login  get-named-letter (:prefix t))


As noted above a string can represent either a file to send back to the browser or a symbolic page name.    If a given string is equal to the first value in a map entry then it is  symblic page name, otherwise it's a file to send back to the browser.  There is one exception: if a map entry doesn't have any items in it then the string that's the first value of that map entry is the name of  a file to return.   This special form is used when you wish to add flags to the processing of a file.   This is an example:

("myletter.clp" (:content-type "text/plain"))


You need not understand the complete map entry syntax in order to use Webactions.    In fact you can build useful web sites using only a fraction of the features of map entries.   Next we'll gradually introduce you to maps and show when you would want to use the advanced features.


Simple Maps


In its simplest form,  the map is  a list of two element lists.  Each two element list begins with the symbolic name of the page.  This is followed by either the location of the page or a function name.   A function name can either name a function that will generate  a managed or unmanaged page, or it will be the name of an action function.    Usually a function name will not  name a page generating function, instead clp files will be used for each page, however in some situations it may prove useful  to have totally dynamic pages generated by a lisp function.

Here's an example of a map argument value

(("home"          "home.clp")
  ("signin"       "signin.clp")
  ("newuser"      action-new-user)
  ("existinguser" action-existing-user)
  ("failedlogin"  user-failed-login)
  ("storefront"   "storefront.clp"))


In the example we have three symbolic pages that refer to clp files.  These are thus managed pages.  Two symbolic pages refer to functions whose names suggest they are action functions.   One symbolic page refers to a function user-failed-login which is a function to dynamically create a page describing the failed login attempt.

You can't distinguish an action function from a dynamic page generation function based on what's in the map argument.   If you're wise you'll use a naming convention such as used above to make the distinction clear.    The way that webactions determines which is which when running the function is that an action function will return a string and a dynamic html generation function will return nil.

In a clp file relative urls that follow "href=" or "action=" are considered to be the logical names of pages.  Thus you can write

<a href="home"> blah blah </a>

and that href will be transformed into the appropriate url such that the link will be directed to the page associated with the page with the logical name "home".
It's still possible to reference pages outside the project using absolute paths in url, such as

<a href="/othersite/index.html>check this out too</a>  or <a href="http://www.cnn.com"> read the latest news</a>

Now we have the background to describe exactly what webaction-project does.    webaction-project does a publish-prefix for the path that's the value of project-prefix.  This means that any url in that url-space will be processed as a reference to an object in this project.  

Let's create an example of a simple site that asks you to sign in and once that's successful it lets you vote for your favorite food.   The sign in process ensures that at most one vote is recorded for each user.

(webaction-project "sample" :project-prefix "/mysamp/" :destination "/usr/proj/sample/" :index "main"
      :map '(("main" "main.clp")
             ("signin" action-sign-in)
             ("choice"   "choice.clp")
             ("vote"      action-vote)
             ("thanks"  "thanks.clp")))

             
The first page of the site has the logical name "main" and that causes the file "main.clp" to be returned to the browser.  Here is main.clp:

<html>
<body>
<h1>Sign In Please</h1>

<mysamp_showerrors/>

<form action="signin" method="POST">
name: <input type="text" 
             name="name" value="<clp_value name=name session/>"><br>
password <input type="password" name="password"><br>
<input type="submit">
</form>

</body>
</html>

There are just a few items to note in this page, and we've shown them in bold.   The first is the element <mysamp_showerrors/>.   This will cause a clp function to be invoked, which we'll describe below.  The next item to note is that the value of action=  is a symbolic page named "signin".   The clp processor will transform "signin"  to the appropriate value that depends on whether your browser is accepting cookies.   The final item to note is that the default value of the text field for "name" is given by a clp_value tag.   This clp_value retrieves the value of the session variable "name", if it has a value.   We'll see later how this session variable is set.  The idea is that if the user typed in his name but failed to type in the correct password, we'll prompt him again for his password and will fill in the name field for him.   Note how the clp_value element can be placed inside an html string value.   This is because the clp file parser doesn't parse the html, it just looks for clp element tags.

The clp function mysamp_showerrors is this:

(def-clp-function mysamp_showerrors (req ent args body)
  (declare (ignore ent args body))
  (let ((error (request-variable-value req "error")))
    (if* error
       then (html :br
		  ((:font :color "red")
		   (:princ-safe error))
		  :br :br))))

  

This function looks on the request object for a variable named "error" and if found prints that value of that variable in red.   This is used to communicate to the users problems found by the code that checks the name and password for validity.   We'll next see how that "error" variable is set.
 

When the user enters his name and password and clicks on the submit button control is passed to the logical page "signin".   Looking at the map above you'll see that this causes the function  action-sign-in to be called.   Here is that function:

(defun action-sign-in (req ent)
  (declare (ignore ent))
  (let ((name (request-query-value "name" req))
	(password (request-query-value "password" req))
	(websession (websession-from-req req))
	)
    (setf (websession-variable websession "name") name)
    (if* (equal password
		(cdr (assoc name '(("joe" . "eoj")
				   ("fred" . "derf"))
			    :test #'equal)))
       then ; success!
	    (setf (websession-variable websession "signed-in") t)
	    "choice" 	 ; show choice
       else ; failure
	    (setf (request-variable-value req "error")
	      "name and password are invalid")
	    
	    "main"	; go back and try again
	    )))

This function retrieves the values of the "name" and "password" values from the set of form values.  It retrieves the current session object which is stored on the request object by the webaction framework code.   Next it stores the name given as the value of session variable "name".    This means that the clp_value form shown in main.clp will be able to retrieve it should we get to that page again.    Next it checks if the password is valid.  We have a very simple test in our example, a real web site would use some kind of database to store the password information.    If the password matches we set the session variable "signed-in" to true  and return the string "choice".  The webaction framework then consults the map for a page named "choice" and finds that choice.clp should be returned.   If the name and password are not valid then action-sign-in  returns the string "main" causing main.clp to be returned and the user prompted again for a name and password.  Before returning "main" this function sets the request variable "error" to a string to print when main.clp is sent back to the browser.

This is choice.clp:

<html>
<body>
<h1>Vote</h1>
Ok <clp_value name="name" session/>, what do you like?
<br>
<form action="vote" method="POST">
favorite food: <input type="text" name="food"><br>
</form>
</body>
</html>

Here we ask the user for their favorite food.  We personalize the page by displaying the user's name on the page using clp_value.   When the user types in the food and presses enter the logical page "vote" is invoked.  From the map we see that that causes the function action-vote to be invoked.

(defvar *votes* nil)

(defun action-vote (req ent)
  (declare (ignore ent))
  (let* ((food (request-query-value "food" req))
	 (websession (websession-from-req req))
	 (name (websession-variable websession "name")))
    (if* (websession-variable websession "signed-in")
       then (let ((ent (assoc name *votes* :test #'equal)))
	      (if* ent
		 then (setf (cdr ent) food)
		 else (push (cons name food) *votes*)))
	    "thanks"
       else ; not signed in, can't vote
	    "main")))

The vote action checks to see if the user is logged in in which case it stores the last value the user voted for in an assoc list in the variable *votes*.    The logged in test is important since a user may try to bypass the signing-in process by just directing his web browser to  /mysamp/vote which would run this action function as well.

If the vote was recorded this function returns "thanks" which the map causes thanks.clp to be returned:

<html>
<body>
<h2>Thanks for voting</h2>
</body>
</html


Extended Maps

When designing a web application you usually want to force the user to login first and then you open up the site to him.   When a user enters the correct name and password you modify the current session object to include an object that identifies the user so that subsequent visits to this site during the same session will be associated with the user who just logged in.   What if a new user doesn't come to the 'front door' of the web site but instead jumps right into the middle of it?    How can you protect the site so that a non-logged-in user is forced to start at the login page before visiting any other page of the site?   The answer is using extended maps.    Let's look at the map from the project mentioned above:

            (("main" "main.clp")
             ("signin" action-sign-in)
             ("choice"   "choice.clp")
             ("vote"     action-vote)
             ("thanks"  "thanks.clp")))

In this map we would like the symbolic pages "choice", "vote" and "thanks" to  be reachable only if the current session has a logged in user.
We can accomplish this with

            (("main" "main.clp")
             ("signin" action-sign-in)
             ("choice"   action-check-login choice.clp")
             ("vote"     action-check-login action-vote)
             ("thanks"   action-check-login "thanks.clp")))

Where we define action-check-login as:

(defun action-check-login (req ent)
  (declare (ignore ent))
  (if* (websession-variable (websession-from-req req) "signed-in")
     then ; logged in
	  :continue
     else ; not logged in
	  "main"))

As you can see, a symbolic page name has a sequence of function names or strings associated with it.    The rule for processing a symbolic page name is to process the list of items after the symbolic page name in this way:

  1. if the first item is a string then consider it to be a symbolic page name and start processing from the top.
  2. if the first item is a symbol then run the function value of that symbol.   The return value from that function will be either

If the map doesn't contain an entry for the symbolic page name then assume that the symbolic page name is the actual name of a page on the site and return that.

In our example the function action-check-login tests to see if the user is logged in and if he is returns :continue so that the next item in the list will be used to process the symbolic page request.   If the user is not logged in then the string "main" is returned which causes the login page to be displayed (and subsequent items in the list to handle the symbolic page request are ignored).

Prefix Maps

It is possible to have one map entry specify how to handle a whole set of symbolic page names.   The syntax is this

("name" action-or-view .... (:prefix t))

What distinguishes this syntax is that the last item is a list.  That list contain a sequence of flag names and values, in a property list format.  .

The meaning of :prefix t is that this map entry applies to all symbolic pages name beginning with the string "name".    For example if the project has a prefix of "/foo/" then the following urls will be handled by this map entry:

http://localhost/foo/name
http://www.foo.com/foo/named
http://www.bar.com/foo/namexxx/yyyy/zzz

Prefix map entries are the last ones considered when Webactions looks for a map entry to handle a symbolic page name.  Webactions first looks for a specific symbolic page name entry.    Then Webactions sees if the symbolic page name names an actual file in the project directory.  And finally if those first two searches fail to find a map entry, Webactions looks for a prefix entry.

The precedence of the prefix entries search is "last mentioned first".  That is the last prefix map value in the map argument to webaction-project is tested first, and then the second to last, and so on.

To continue our example above if there were also a map entry

("name" action-do-name)

then this url

http://localhost/foo/name

would be handled by the single symbolic name map entry rather than the prefix entry.

Also if there were a file "name.clp" in the directory of files for this project then the url

http://localhost/foo/name.clp

would return this file rather than invoke the "name" as a prefix map entry.

We'll show two important uses for prefix map entries.  The first is that you can catch references to non-existent symbolic page names and return a nicer error message than the standard one AllegroServe returns.   The map entry

("" handle-undefined-page (:prefix t))

will catch all symbolic page references that don't have a handler.  You'll want to list this entry before any other prefix entry in the map since you want this entry to be checked last.

The second important use for prefix map entries arises when you wish to send a file to the browser and you would like to suggest the filename for the file.  Browers usually use the name that appears after the last "/" in a url as the default name of the file to store.

Thus if this url

http://www.foo.com/myproj/sendfile/mypic.jpg

resulted in an "image/jpeg" being returned then the browser would prompt to store this as "mypic.jpg".     In a  webaction project (with the project  prefix of "/myproj/") you would have a map entry such as this

    ("sendfile/"  return-filecontents (:prefix t))


Redirection Maps


Suppose you click on the submit button in a form, and the method for that form is "POST".    The webserver will respond with another page.  Now you click on a link on that page to go to a new page.  Now suppose you click on the Back button on the web browser, which should take you to the page that was the result of submitting the form.    The browser should just show you the previous page from its cache.   Most browsers will do this except that Internet Explorer will often tell you that the page has expired and it refuses to show you the page.

This is counterintuitive and user-unfriendly behavior on IE's part but still you must handle it in some way.

One way to handle this is that whenever a POST is done the webserver processes the posted data and then returns a Redirect response to the browser which then does a GET of the page that's the target of the redirect.   Thus the user ends up looking at a page that was fetched with a GET, and thus IE will have no problem returning to this page if the Back button is clicked.

You can specify this behavior in a map entry in this way

("getdata" action-do-getdata "showresult.clp" (:redirect t))

The redirect flag says that rather than simply return the contents of showresult.clp to the browser, Webactions will return a Redirect response to the browser which will then fetch "showresult.clp".
The consequence of this redirect is that clp functions invoked by showresult.clp will not have access to the query values from the first request to "getdata" and they will not have access to the request-variables that may have been set by action-do-getdata.   This feature is still under development -- we may change this in the future to allow query and request variables to survive the redirect.

If you're concerned about making your site work in IE you'll likely want to do this redirect for all symbolic pages that are reached by a POST to a form.

Content-Type maps


You can specify the content type of a file return by Webactions by adding a map entry of the following form

("myfile.clp" (:content-type "text/plain"))

By default clp files are given the "text/html" content-type.   You can override this for all clp files using the clp-content-type argument to webaction-project.   Specifying the content type in a map entry overrides all other specifications.

Specifying the content-type in this way only works in this case where there are no actions or views following the name of the file.

Classes used in webactions

These classes are used by the webaction framework.   Except as noted the classes should be considered opaque.   Use only the documented functions to operate on instances of these classes.

clp-entity - when clp files are "discovered" in a webaction  by being referenced from a request url,  a clp-entity instance is created to describe the page.  This entity is then published so that the discovery process doesn't have to happen again.   When the clp-entity is created a pointer to the webaction object is placed in the entity so that clp functions run during the processing of the clp file can find the webaction project they are running inside.

webaction-entity - there is one entity of this class for each webaction project.   This entity is published to capture all urls that begin with the project prefix (if no other more specific entity captures them).   The webaction entity holds a pointer to a webaction object.


webaction - An instance of this class contains the information on a webaction project.  It contains the information passed as arguments to webaction-project as well as a websession-master instance if sessions are to be maintained.

websession-master -  An instance of this object is associated with a webaction object if that project wants session support.  The webaction-master object contains the information for creating session ids and for automatically deleting unused sessions.  It also contains a map from cookie value to websession object.

websession - An instance of this class denotes a single session for a site denoted by a webaction.   The websession contains a "last used" time and will be automatically removed after a certain amount of time without being used.


Storing Values

A webaction project consists of cooperating independent objects:  action functions, clp functions and clp files.  These objects often have a need to pass data from one to another.    Webactions offers three places to store data but of course application specific code can also use other data repositories  (such as databases).

Session
Request Variable
Request Query
(websession-variable session "name")
(request-variable-value req "name")
(request-query-value "name" req)
<clp_value name="name" session/>
<clp_value name="name" request/>
<clp_value name="name" query/>
Lasts for the lifetime of a  session.
You can obtain the session object using
(websession-from-req req)
Lasts for the lifetime of a request
Lasts for the lifetime of a request.
Initialized from the query string of the url of the request and from form data.



The values can be set using setf of the corresponding accessor.

Lisp functions for webactions


These functions are useful inside clp functions and webactions action functions.

(locate-action-path webaction action-name websession)   

Returns a url path to the action named action-name in the given webaction  and websession.   This is used in a clp function when you wish to provide a value for a  href or action attribute that should be directed to an action in the current project.  

 (html "go to " ((:a href (locate-action-path wa "signup" session)) "here")  " to sign up.")


You can find the current webaction object using webaction-from-ent and the current session object using websession-from-req.


(webaction-from-ent ent)  

Returns the webaction object associated with this entity.  This function will return the webaction object for clp-entity and webaction-entity objects.    This function is rarely used since there is little that can be done by user code with a webaction object.


(websession-from-req  req)


Returns the websession object associated with this request (which is an http-request object).


(websession-data websession)

Returns whatever data was stored in the session object by the user.   Use (setf (websession-data websession) xxxxx) to store data in the websession object.    See websession-variable for a way of storing data using a name as a key.


(websession-key websession)


returns the key for this session.  This key is used in cookies and in the url itself if cookies are not supported.


(websession-variable websession name)


returns the value of the session variable with the given name.  The name can be a string or symbol.  It's compared against existing keys using the equal function.  Use setf to store the value of variables.


Library of clp functions


The following clp functions are supplied with AllegroServe.

<clp_include name="filename"/>

insert the contents of the given file at this point.   A relative filename will be relative to the location of the file containing this clp_include element.



<clp_base/>

This emits  a <base href="xxx"> tag into the html stream.   xxx is the location of the clp page being emitted.   Due to the automatic internal redirecting done by the webaction processor the initial url can be much different than the url which describes the page being sent to the browser.  If the page contains relative references to images then the base tag will allow the browser to turn those relative references into the correct absolute references.
This tag must be within the <head> .... </head> part of the page.


<clp_value name="xxx" [safe] [query | request | session]/>

Retrieve the value of the variable named xxx from the location specified and emit it to the html stream.   If location is query then the value is retrieved from the query string of a  GET or the body and query string of the POST.    If the location is request then the value is retrieved from the request variables.  If the location is session then the values are retrieved from the session variables.    If safe is given then the value will be printed in such a way to escape any characters that would be interpreted as html  (e.g. as (html (:princ-safe xxx)) would print the value).
Example:

  The value of query variable foo is <clp_value name="foo" safe query/>.



<clp_set name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]/>

Sets the value of variable xxx to yyy in the given location.    If you want to pass values from one clp function to another storing them in the request location is best as the value will be isolated to this one http request.


<clp_ifgt name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>body</clp_ifgt>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is greater than the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy should be an integer value.


<clp_iflt name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>body</clp_iflt>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is less than the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy should be an integer value.


<clp_ifeq name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>
body</clp_ifeq>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is not eql to the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy should be an integer value.

<clp_ifneq name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>body</clp_ifneq>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is eql to the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy should be an integer value.


<clp_ifdef name="xxx" [query | request | session]>
body</clp_ifdef>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is  not nil then the body will be emitted to the html stream.  


<clp_ifndef name="xxx" [query | request | session]>body</clp_ifdef>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is  nil then the body will be emitted to the html stream.   If the variable xxx has never been set then this is the same as it having a value of nil.

<clp_ifequal name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>body</clp_ifequal>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is equal to the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy can be any value, but is likely to be a string.

<clp_ifnequal name="xxx" value="yyy" [query | request | session]>body</clp_ifnequal>

If the value of the variable xxx found at the given location is not equal to the value yyy then the body will be emitted to the html stream.    The value yyy can be any value, but is likely to be a string.

<clp_options name="xxx" [query | request | session]>
     
"opt1" "opt2" ..."optn"</clp_options>

This function helps build a dynamically defaulted option list for the html <select> element.    Inside a <select> element are a sequence of <option> elements with the default value denoted <option selected>.   When generating an option list the default value may not be known when the author writes the page.   The default can be based on some other value entered in the session.   Thus this form allows the default to be computed where the default value is found at runtime from the value of the variable whose name is given as the value of the name attribute.    In the form shown above the variable name is xxx.
Between <clp_options> and </clp_options> are a sequence of lisp strings.   When this is processed the lisp strings are read with the lisp reader in order to create a list of option values.  
If a name= attribute isn't present then the first lisp string is made the default
Example:

<select name="color">
<clp_options name="defcolor" session>
"blue" "green" "yellow"
"red" "purple" "gold"
</clp_options>
</select>


<clp_select args>body</clp_select>

This  function simply emits a select form: <select args>body</select>.     The reason for using clp_select instead of select is that some html editors get confused by items inside the body of a select that aren't option elements   In a clp file you might want to put clp_options or clp_include inside a select tag.  If you use clp_select you can put whatever you want in the body and most html editors will not object.




<http_header-value name="xxx"/>


print the value of the given http header to the html stream.   The name (here xxx) is treated case-insensitively.
Example:

You are using browser <http_header-value name="User-Agent"/>.






<wa_link name="xxx" extra="yyy"/>

This function is rarely if ever explicitly found in a clp file however this function is implicitly called whenever the clp parser encounters an href= or action= in a clp file.   The result of a call to wa_link is to take a url (here xxx) and transform it into the appropriate url given whether the url is relative or absolute and whether cookies are being accepted in the current session.   Extra is optional and if given specifies what string should be added to the end of the resulting url.  This is where a query string is usually placed
Example:

   <wa_link href="main" extra="?user=joe&password=123"/>


<wa_showerrors name="xxx" [query | request | session]  [clear]/>

If the the variable named xxx in the location specified (query, request or session) has a value then display that value in red in the html being returned as part of the request.   If clear is given then set the value of variable xxx  to nil.   This is commonly used to display error messages on a page, such as when a form wasn't filled out correctly and you're redisplaying the page and asking the user to try again.   The default location is request.





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