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A web browser that just prints “Done” instead of the web page isn’t of much use, so we add some lines at the end of the method handle_url to print the contents of the web page:

void handle_url(string this_url)
  write("Fetching URL '" + this_url + "'...");
  Query web_page = get_url(this_url);
  if (web_page == 0)
    write(" Failed.\n");
  write(" Done.\n");
  write("This is the contents of '" + this_url + "':\n\n");
  string page_contents = web_page->data();
  write(page_contents + "\n");
} // handle_url

The interesting part here is the expression


where we call the method data in the data item web_page. This method returns the contents of the web page, i e the HTML code, as a string. We then print that string.

Methods in data items?

“But”, you say, “what is all this about a method in a data item? I thought methods were pieces of code that were parts of a program?”

Well, a method is a part of a program, just as we have seen. But just as the web browser we have written contains methods, other programs can contain methods. And the “data type” Protocols.HTTP.Query is actually another program. The big difference is that it doesn’t have a method called main, so it can’t be used by itself. It can only be used as a part of another program, as we have done here.

Somewhere on your computer there is a file, called something like /usr/local/pike/8.0.28/lib/modules/Protocols.pmod/HTTP.pmod/Query.pike or C:\Program Files\Pike\lib\pike\modules\Protocols.pmod\HTTP.pmod\Query.pike. This file contains the program Query with all its methods and variables, among them the method data.

A program like Query, which can be used in other programs in the way we have seen, is often called a class. You can read more about how to use, and create, classes in the chapter about object-oriented programming.