Example: "A common CGI script is 'formmail.pl', which allows users to send e-mail through a form on a website."

CGI stands for "Common Gateway Interface" and is a standard set of rules that define how scripts and programs can be run on a Web server. The "Common" in "Common Gateway Interface" refers to how CGI scripts can run on multiple server platforms and may be written in several different languages.

Most Web servers include a folder named "cgi-bin" in the root directory of each website. Any scripts placed inside this folder must abide by the CGI rules and permissions. For example, a script stored in the cgi-bin folder may be able to access system resources that other scripts cannot. Many websites still use CGI scripts, but Web developers now often write scripts in languages like PHP, ASP, and JSP. These scripts can be included directly within an HTML page instead of being referenced from another location.

CGI is also short for "Computer Generated Imagery," which refers to 3D computer graphics used in film, TV, and other types of multimedia.

Updated: June 21, 2010

Definition from the PC Glossary