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This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.


In short, this project is a web service to let you embed URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) on your website to fill in POST forms with canned fields on other people’s websites when somebody clicks the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). It lets you set up canned searches when the search box is implemented with a POST instead of GET form.

Bookstores and other online sites are converting their search form from GET to POST format. This means you can no longer compose a canned search as a URL and embed in on one of your webpages. e.g. setting up a canned search for books on the care and feeding of Indonesian tropical fish.

I think the vendors do this partly to discourage anything but live typers. They may also do it just because the GETs become unwieldy when the number of fields grows.

How It Works

You set up a little server, whose job it is to convert from GET to POST and relay the request on. It is up to the client to study the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) forms on the bookstore site to figure out the equivalent GET form the form POST.

The server need not have on tap any prior information about the GET or POST forms. It can glean all it needs on the fly from the GET sent to it.

Your client prepares a URL that would work had the bookstore used GET instead of POST. They then URL-Encode the whole thing. They pass that as a single parameter piggybacked on a GET to your website. You might provide the client with a little Java program to help do that and perhaps even to extract info from the bookstore website about the fields required, or extract info from Wireshark snapshots of FORM queries.

You might just do this as a public service. If the traffic got substantial, we would need at way to make this service pay. You could charge a penny a redirect (I have no idea what the cost should be) and make your clients keep a gas tank they can refill from time to time with PayPal. You should in return give them a list of the GETs your service redirected over the last time period. You might send back an ad to the user to keep him entertained waiting for the response from the bookstore as another way of generating revenue.

Such a service could be easily abused, for example to bombard a site with fake contact messages. Figuring out how to detect/control abuse is a major part of this project.

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