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Sessions, Cookies or URL Redirect?  RSS feed

 
John Freshman
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I have read many thoughts from authors regarding the use of these different strategies for tracking users. As I get more and more specific with my own designs for a user environment, I am really interested to hear what is used most prominently in the real world and why.

What do some of the big boys use? Google? Yahoo? MSN?

I'm curious what you think...
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Let's see. Someone can correct me if I'm wrong, but you're actually talking here about only two alternatives, which are used to implement the third thing you mention: to manage sessions, you can either use cookies or URL rewriting (not "redirecting", that's something else.) Basically, to keep track of a session, you need the web browser to send you some kind of session identifier with each request: either a cookie (which is sent with the HTTP headers) or a session ID embedded in the URL itself.

What should you use? Almost without exception, cookies are the primary strategy used by virtually everyone. Some sites will support URL rewriting as a fallback for users who have cookies disabled in their browser -- but not all.
 
John Freshman
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Thanks for helping to clarify (URL rewriting, not redirect). Initially it seems that cookies would not be the best way, but I am the student here.

Do you know if companies like Google and Yahoo depend on cookies as well?
 
Ernest Friedman-Hill
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Yes, as I said, pretty much everybody uses cookies.
 
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