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URL Dispatching and Mapping

Introduction

We will learn how to easily connect different URLs to their associated functions.

When a client requests a specific URL from the HTTP server, it divides it into several parts (CGI variables): SCRIPT_NAME, PATH_INFO and QUERY_STRING. For example the URL /foo/bar.php/test?x=10 is separated into:

CppCMS web applications are not distributed into several scripts, but rather they're written using a single FastCGI application that runs on a specific "script" url, like "/myapp". So, generally, URLs will look like /myapp/page/10, where SCRIPT_NAME = "/myapp" remains constant and PATH_INFO = /page/10 is changed according to the user's needs.

So the mapping between the URL and the application's member functions is done by matching a regular expression against the PATH_INFO part of the URL, even though this behaviour can be changed by using the mount_point class.

This job is done by the cppcms::url_dispatcher class.

The opposite of dispatching is "mapping", where the names of the application parts are converted to URLs that can be given to the user.

Code

Mapping

Lets rewrite our hello class:

Since we will be routing URLs, let's include the url_dispatcher.h and url_mapper.h header file. Your include list should look like this:

#include <cppcms/application.h>
#include <cppcms/service.h>
#include <cppcms/http_response.h>
#include <cppcms/url_dispatcher.h>
#include <cppcms/url_mapper.h>
#include <cppcms/applications_pool.h>
#include <iostream>
#include <stdlib.h>

Now in our constructor, let's map some URLs to member functions:

hello(cppcms::service &srv) :
    cppcms::application(srv)
{
    dispatcher().assign("/number/(\\d+)",&hello::number,this,1);
    mapper().assign("number","/number/{1}");

    dispatcher().assign("/smile",&hello::smile,this);
    mapper().assign("smile","/smile");

    dispatcher().assign("",&hello::welcome,this);
    mapper().assign("");

    mapper().root("/hello");
}   

In the fourth line we connect the regular expression /number/(\d+) to the member function number of this instance that receives std::string as parameter, and the 1st captured subexpression is passed to it (note the parameter 1 that represents the 1st subexpression as a parameter)

In this case the subexpression is a nonempty string that contains digits.

In the 5th line we create a name for this part called "number" and we provide an URL formatting pattern of /number/{1} - the opposite of the regular expression where {1} is a placeholder for the first parameter for formatting the appropriate URL.

In the lines 7-8 we connect the member function smile to its URL and create a mapping. Because this URL does not have any parameters it does not have any placeholders.

On line 10 we connect the empty URL to the welcome member function, and on line 11 we define the default empty mapping pattern for the URL. Note, because we pass only one parameter to the assign() function, we define the default URL for the application.

On line 13 we define the "root" of all the URLs for the url_mapper class, in our case it should be identical to the SCRIPT_NAME CGI variable.

Description

So when the web server receives requests that match a script name /hello it forwards them to the application:

Because the "routing table" between the URL and the application's member functions is done, we don't need to override the cppcms::application::main member function as it does all the dispatching for us.

Actions

The "number" member function.

void number(std::string num)
{
    int no = atoi(num.c_str());
    response().out() << "The number is " << no << "<br/>\n";
    response().out() << "<a href='" << url("/") << "'>Go back</a>";
}

Note, we're using url("/") as an abstract URL for the default application entry point - the / part describes the root application (our single application) and the fact that nothing follows it shows that the default URL should be given - the mapping to the welcome member function.

In the same way we create the smile member function:

void smile()
{
    response().out() << ":-) <br/>\n";
    response().out() << "<a href='" << url("/") << "'>Go back</a>";
}

Now we write out the welcome action:

void welcome()
{
    response().out() <<
        "<h1> Welcome To Page with links </h1>\n"
        "<a href='" << url("/number",1)  << "'>1</a><br>\n"
        "<a href='" << url("/number",15) << "'>15</a><br>\n"
        "<a href='" << url("/smile") << "' >:-)</a><br>\n";
}

Note, we show three URLs to the different application parts: "number" - and we pass a parameter 1 to the cppcms::application::url function that will be rendered instead of the placeholder {1}, we do the same for number 15 and pass an URL to "smile" without parameters.

Lets describe the actions that are taken in the example when we call url("/number",15):

Note: the parameters to url family of functions can be anything that can be written to std::ostream - i.e. any object that defines operator << with standard C++ streams.

Running The Example

Recompile it:

c++ hello.cpp -lcppcms -o hello  

And now for the exciting part, start your application:

./hello -c config.js

And hit the URL: http://localhost:8080/hello


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