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cookie expire on browser exit

Posted on 2002-03-29
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Last Modified: 2008-02-01
I used the following script to set a cookie in Perl:

     my $cookie_out = $query->cookie(-name=>'TEST_COOKIE',
     -value=>'values',
     -expires=>'+24H',
     -path=>'/',
     -domain=>'.mydomain.com',
     -secure=>0);
     print $query->header(-cookie=>$cookie_out);


Instead of the cookie expiring after a set period of time, I want the cookie to expire when the user closes his browser window.  Basically, I want to create a per-session cookie.  How do I accomplish this?  I can't find documentation anywhere on this.
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Question by:GorGor1
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by:maneshr
ID: 6905844
GorGor1,

"..  How do I accomplish this? .."

You might want to try REPLACING ......

 -expires=>'+24H',

WITH...

 -expires=>'+24h',

Let me know if that makes a difference.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6905852
But if I use +24h, the cookie will expire (disappear from the user's Temporary Internet Files folder) 24 hrs from now, right?  I need it to expire when the user closes his browser.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6905879
Do I have to use javascript to delete the cookie on exit?
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by:maneshr
ID: 6905956
GorGor1,

"..But if I use +24h, the cookie will expire (disappear from the user's Temporary Internet Files folder)  24 hrs from now, right? .."

Right. The cookies life is 24 hrs long at the end of which it will die.
Cookies of these types are called persistent cookies.

"..I need it to expire when the user closes his browser. .."

Aha!! So what you need is NOT a persistent cookie, but a non-persistent cookie.
Non-presistent cookies live as long as the browser is open

Here is a brief description on the expires attribute

 1. an expiration time
    This is a time/date string (in a special GMT format) that indicates when a cookie expires.  The cookie will be saved and returned to your script until this expiration date is reached if the user exits Netscape and restarts it.  If an expiration date isn't specified, the cookie will remain active until the user quits Netscape.

So in your case the solution is as simple as just removing the -expires attribute completely!!

Let me know if this solves your problem.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6905967
trying it right now...
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by:maneshr
ID: 6905993
GorGor1,

"..trying it right now... "

Cool!!

Looking forward to your reply....
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906052
if I remove -expires or even use "-expires=>''," the cookie isn't created in IE.  I don't have netscape installed on this computer yet, so I haven't tried in Netscape.  Any ideas?
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906096
GorGor1,

"...Any ideas? ..."

Try using

-expires=> '0',

Unless you know that all your users will ONLY be using IE, you should install and test with Netscape too.

Testing with at least these 2 major browsers today will save you a lot of headache in the future.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906106
very strange....still no cookie in IE
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906111
GorGor1,

"..very strange....still no cookie in IE ..."

Hmmm!!!

What version of IE are you using? What OS are you on?

i would suggest you check it in Netscape before proceeding with anything else.

Also, if possible post the URL here so that i can check it in my Netscape browser.

Lemme know.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906144
I'm using win2k professional with IE 6.0.26.

here's the script:

#!c:\perl -w

use strict;
use CGI;
use CGI::Cookie;
use CGI::Carp qw(fatalsToBrowser);
use Win32::ODBC;

my $query = new CGI;

     my $cookie_out = $query->cookie(-name=>'TEST_COOKIE',
     -value=>'value',
     -expires=>'0',
     -path=>'/',
     -domain=>'.globalnamespace.com',
     -secure=>0);
     print $query->header(-cookie=>$cookie_out);

exit;


here's the link:  http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/setCookie.pl
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906152
GorGor1,

one last try before i see the URL in Netscape.

REPLACE...

 -expires=>'0',

WITH...

 -expires=>'+1s',
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906162
still no cookie.  It appears that, in IE, when the cookie expires, it is automatically flushed from the 'Temporary Internet Files' folder.  At least that's my guess.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906170
it shows up when I use '+1h', but no luck with blank, +1s, or any amount of seconds. grrrrr
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906175
GorGor1,

".. It appears that, in IE, when the cookie expires, it is automatically flushed from  the 'Temporary Internet Files' folder.  At least that's my guess. ..."

I want you to be more certain than make a guess.

Let me know what type of cookie you want.

Do you want a persistent cookie or a non-persistent one?

i would also suggest you do some background reading on cookies.
Here is a wonderful URL that i am sure will help you.
http://www.cookiecentral.com/faq/

Take your time in getting back, but get back with more definite info.

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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906184
I alreay know what I'm trying to do.  It's just that I can't get it to work.  I want a non-persistent cookie.  It just seems that IE doesn't respond to non-persistent cookies created in Perl.  I have no idea why.  If there's no "-expires" option, the cookie isn't created.  If I try using "-expires=>'0'" no cookie is created.  And if I try using "-expires=>'#s'" where # is some number, no cookie is created.  I'm trying to do authentication (I have the 'check username/password with MS Access DB' part done and now I need to use cookies to know if the user has been authenticated or not.  I don't need to store a specific value in the cookie, I just need to check if it still exists (the user has been authenticated for this session).  Once their session is done, the cookie is gone and they need to login again otherwise my site won't let them go any further.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906193
GorGor1,

"..I want a non-persistent  cookie.  .."

Excellent!!! So we need a cookie that will be killed as soon as all the browser sessions are closed.
We have that nailed down.

".. If there's no "-expires" option, the cookie isn't created...."
Are you saying that ONLY by looking at the temporary folder? Did you try to swtich on the "Warn before accepting cookie" option of your browser?

By turning on that option you will be prompted each time a cookie is about to be set. That is a more conclusive test thatn looking at some folder.

Let me know.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906249
I turned on the option and it does not prompt me to accept the cookie unless I'm NOT using "-expires=>'+#s'". If I use '+#s', it doesn't prompt me to accept the cookie.  If I change to '+#h', it prompts me to accept the cookie.  (where # is some number).  I just don't get it.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906255
GorGor1,

"..on the option and it does not prompt me to accept the cookie.."

Good!! So that is done as well.

".."-expires=>'+#s'". .."

How about using m instead of s?

does that set the cookie? Although m might not be the solution to your problem, i am trying to get a idea of the cause for this.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906267
no, 'm' doesnt' work either...but 'h' does!  this bites...lol
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906278
GorGor1,

"..no, 'm' doesnt' work either....."

Hmm...Try this...

REPLACE...

-expires=>'+24H',

WITH....

-expires=>'now',

Again, let me know how it goes.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906401
unbelievable...that didn't work either!  I'm starting to think that it may be easier just to delete the cookie with javascript upon exiting the browser.  What do you think?
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906421
GorGor1,

"..What do you think? ..."

Good as a last option, but till then No.

Now can you put back  -expires=>'+1H',  & post the URL here?

i will then test the URL using both IE 5.01 & NS 4.73

Let me know.

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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906444
http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/setCookie.pl

This is the current code:

#!c:\perl -w

use strict;
use CGI;
use CGI::Cookie;
use CGI::Carp qw(fatalsToBrowser);
use Win32::ODBC;

my $query = new CGI;

     my $cookie_out = $query->cookie(-name=>'TEST_COOKIE',
     -value=>'value',
     -expires=>'+1h',
     -path=>'/',
     -domain=>'.globalnamespace.com',
     -secure=>0);
     print $query->header(-cookie=>$cookie_out);
     print "<H1>Welcome to our site!</H1>";

exit;
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by:maneshr
ID: 6906536
GorGor1,

i cant reach http://www.globalnamespace.com/

Is the above URL publically accessible?
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6906904
sorry, I shut the server down last night before I went to bed.  I wasn't thinking.  It's back up now.
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maneshr earned 150 total points
ID: 6907064
GorGor1,

"..                     sorry, I shut the server down last night before I went to bed. .."

Uh-oh!!! today i was able to access the above page.

Here is what i found.

In Netscape 4.73 i saw that the cookie was being set with the following date-time stamp.
Sat, Mar 30 2002 08:01:25

In IE 5.0 i saw that the cookie was being set with the following date-time stamp.
Sat, Mar 30 2002 15:52:25

So right off the bat i can say see that even when you are using hours, the actual date-time of the cookie is being messed up. I also think i know the reason for this mess up, but want to confirm it.

Therefore, i am posting this script for you. i want you to copy the files to the proper directories on your server, change the permissions and then try it out.

There is 1 HTML & 2 Perl script in this set.

Pl. post the URL here so that i can verify this script too.


=====cookie.html
<B>Using this HTML form you can set and test cookies<B><P>
<UL>
<LI><A href="/cgi-bin/set_cookie.pl">Click here to set the cookie!!</A>
<LI><A href="/cgi-bin/check_cookie.pl">Click here to test for the cookie!!</A><BR><I>If the cookie has
been set, you will be redirected to www.hotmail.com. If the cookie is NOT set, you will be redirected to www.microsoft.com.

=====set_cookie.pl
#!c:\perl

$DOMAIN=".globalnamespace.com";

##  Set a Domain Cookie with no expiration date.
print qq{Set-Cookie: TEST_COOKIE=yes; domain=$DOMAIN; path=/;\n};

print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";
print "<h2> Cookie has been set!!</H2>\n";
print "Now go back to the previous page to test for the same<P>\n";

=====check_cookie.pl
#!c:\perl

##      Read the cookie.
($cookie_name,$cookie_value)=split(/=/,$ENV{'HTTP_COOKIE'});

if ($cookie_name eq 'TEST_COOKIE'){    ##      Cookie was set successfully!!
 print "Location: http://www.hotmail.com\n\n";
}else{  ##      Cookie not set!!
 print "Location: http://www.microsoft.com\n\n";
}
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907126
ok

http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/cookie.html

problem is that instead of loading hotmail.com, it loads "http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/<http://www.hotmail.com"  but I can see that it's TRYING to work!

Why is it 'working' now and not before?
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907139
crap...the URL in my last comment got all munged up.  You'll be able to see what I mean though when you try it.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907155
GorGor1,

"..problem is that instead of loading hotmail.com, .."

i think there is some problem in the way you copied-pasted the script to your server.
The script works just fine for me.

Can you compare the check_cookie.pl that i have posted above with the one that you have and see if there are any differences?

Let me know.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907193
My version of the check_cookie is 'verifyCookie.html' and it checks for the cookie with javascript:

<html>
<body>
<script language="javascript">
var offset=-1;
if (document.cookie.length > 0)
{
     offset = document.cookie.indexOf("TEST_COOKIE=");
}
if(offset == -1)
{
     document.write("cookie doesn't exist<br>");
}
else
{
     document.write("cookie exists!<br>");
}
</script>

</body>
</html>

The page says "cookie doesnt' exist".  Hmmmm.  I also tried "TEST_COOKIE=yes".  I know we're starting to mix Perl and Javascript troubleshooting here, but I really must check for the cookie with javascript because I'll be verifying authentication on every html page and don't want to exhaust server resources running a Perl script for the whole site.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907210
also, with your script, the cookie seems to be deleted, not when IE is completely shut down, but when the browser window that set the cookie has been closed.  Does this sound right?
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907215
GorGor1,

"..My version of the check_cookie is 'verifyCookie.html' and it checks for the cookie with javascript:.."

if you dont mind, please use the exact version that i have posted.

if you start mixing JS and Perl code, or code that i have not provided, i will not be able to provide any help to you. i must be able to debug the problem first, before suggesting an alternative. Therefore, it is imperative that you use the EXACT code that i have posted above.

if you do mix code, please let me know in advance, so that i dont end up spending time trying to dubug it.

Thanks!!
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907229
GorGor1,

".. Does this sound right? ..."

Yup. The way IE handles cookies is slightly different from the way NS does. This is exactly why i wanted you to go through the URL i posted earlier and do some background study on cookies.

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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907320
Oh, I thought you meant to check if the cookie exists using my 'checkcookie' page.  I THINK I gotcha now.

Here's my setCookie script:
---------------------
#!c:\perl -w

use strict;
use CGI;
use CGI::Cookie;
use CGI::Carp qw(fatalsToBrowser);
use Win32::ODBC;

my $query = new CGI;

     my $cookie_out = $query->cookie(-name=>'TEST_COOKIE',
     -value=>'value',
     -expires=>'0',  #also have tried not including '-expires' at all
     -path=>'/',
     -domain=>'.globalnamespace.com',
     -secure=>0);
     print $query->header(-cookie=>$cookie_out);
     print "<H1>Welcome to our site!</H1>";

exit;
---------------------

And yours:
---------------------
$DOMAIN=".globalnamespace.com";

##  Set a Domain Cookie with no expiration date.
print qq{Set-Cookie: TEST_COOKIE=yes; domain=$DOMAIN; path=/;\n};

print "Content-type: text/html\n\n";
print "<h2> Cookie has been set!!</H2>\n";
print "Now go back to the previous page to test for the same<P>\n";
------------------

To me (to the untrained eye), this appears to be a totally different way of setting cookies.  I don't even know how to begin comparing the two.

Yet another thing I've noticed:  when I set the cookie to expire in an hour, it expires in an hour (in IE) whether or not the browser has been closed.  I don't understand why IE has to be so difficult.  (Of course this is probably covered at the URL you gave me, so I'm going to go do some more reading on the subject while you look this over)
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907484
Here's my solution maneshr.  Please tell me what you think.  Could you please test this for me in Netscape and let me know what happens?  Let me know if this solution sucks.  It works in IE.

http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/setCookie2.pl

#!c:\perl -w

use strict;
use CGI;
use CGI::Cookie;
use CGI::Carp qw(fatalsToBrowser);
use Win32::ODBC;

my $domain = "globalnamespace.com";
print qq{Set-Cookie: TEST_COOKIE=yes; domain=$domain; path=/; expires=Mon, 01-Jan-2050 00:00:00GMT};
print "Content-type: text/html \n\n";

print "cookie set";

exit;


http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/deleteCookie.pl  (watching the 'cookies' directory in win2k, I can visually watch the cookie *poof* disappear from the directory when running the following script.  This is for testing, I'm going to have to end up doing it in javascript:

#!c:\perl -w

use strict;
use CGI;
use CGI::Cookie;
use CGI::Carp qw(fatalsToBrowser);
use Win32::ODBC;

my $domain = "globalnamespace.com";
print qq{Set-Cookie: TEST_COOKIE=yes; domain=$domain; path=/;};
print "Content-type: text/html \n\n";

print "cookie deleted - will be removed immediately in IE";

exit;


and to test it, using your script,
http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/cookie2.html

<B>Using this HTML form you can set and test cookies<B><P>
<UL>
<LI><A href="setCookie2.pl">Click here to set the cookie!!</A>
<LI><A href="deleteCookie.pl">Click here to delete the cookie!!</A>
<LI><A href="check_cookie.pl">Click here to test for the cookie!!</A><BR><I>

Please let me know your professional opinion on this solution.  I don't really care for it too much, but it seems to be the only thing that works in IE.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907496
GorGor1,

"..http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/setCookie2.pl..."

The cookie was not set in NS 4.73.

The reason for this is the way the expires attribute has been set. Also 1st jan 2050 is a Sat not Mon.

You need to REPLACE...
expires=Mon, 01-Jan-2050 00:00:00GMT

WITH...

expires="Sat, 01-Jan-2050 00:00:00 GMT"

Pl. make this change and let me know, so that i can test.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907503
I just changed it to Sat.  I just realized that I'm not going to be able to delete the cookie on browser exit.  So, my solution isn't really going to work.  I'm still searching for a way to set a non-persistent cookie to work in IE & NS.  I'm beyond frustrated at this point.  :o(
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907505
Another problem is that if I set the cookie to last one hour and the user stays longer than an hour, their authentication will fail after the 1 hour point and they'll hate my site.  :o(  Same goes for 1 day or 1 week.  Plus, I only want them to be authenticated until they close their browser APPLICATION.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907515
GorGor1,

".. I'm still searching for a way to set a non-persistent  cookie to work in IE & NS..."

So why bother with the expires attribute at all!!?

Lets ignore the expires attributes completely.

Lets use the set_cookie.pl, check_cookie.pl & check_cookie.html files that i posted earlier.

Again, do NOT use any JS or any other code.

Let me know when you have done that.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907532
ok, after removing the expires attribute, check_cookie.pl shows the cookie still exists ONLY when run from the same browser window.  If I run check_cookie.pl from another browser window, the cookie is not found..even when I leave the other browser window open where the setCookie2.pl script was originally executed and verified.  No other browser windows can detect that the cookie exists.  Only the browser window from where the cookie was first created.  How do I provide access to the cookie from all browser windows AND also have it expire when all browser windows are closed?  I've seen it done on the web, so it has to be possible.  [I keep increasing points in hopes of keeping your interest  :o)]
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by:maneshr
ID: 6907544
GorGor1,

"..after removing the expires attribute, check_cookie.pl..."

i went to the following URL http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/cookie.html, clicked on "Click here to set the cookie!! " & the cookie was set properly (i am assuming you are using the exact version of set_cookie.pl that i posted earlier).

Next i clicked on the back button of my NS browser and clicked on "Click here to test for the cookie!!". i was expecting that you had changed check_cookie.pl to the exact version i had posted above, but it seems you have still not done that. i got an error page.

i am finding it very frustrating to not have the script i have posted. The ONLY other alternative would be for me to have telnet access to your server. That way i can make any changes myself, test it out and confirm the results, without having to go back and forth.

so if you can provide me with that temporary access, please post your email id and i will send you an email.

"..[I keep increasing points in hopes of keeping your interest  :o)] .."

Thanks!!! so far my interest in this has been 100%, regardless of the points. right now i am stepping for a few hours and should be back in 4 hrs.

Till then....
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907849
ok, it's back the way you wanted it and the 2 scripts and 1 html page are exactly what you posted above.

http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/cookie.html

Also, I had a theory and it turns out to be true.  When the cookie is set from a script, all windows that are opened by the original window and all subsequent windows will have access to the cookie.  I made a new page and scripts to show this.  I tested it in both IE 6.0 and NS 6.2.  Could you try it in NS 4.7 and see if it works?  I can deal with this, although I'm still wondering how to allow access to the cookie by all browser windows.  Here's the script.  And if you think this will suffice (as long as I follow the rules of the theory), I'll accept your answer.  Thanks!

New scripts:
http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB2/cookie.html
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6907851
ok, it's back the way you wanted it and the 2 scripts and 1 html page are exactly what you posted above.

http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB/cookie.html

Also, I had a theory and it turns out to be true.  When the cookie is set from a script, all windows that are opened by the original window and all subsequent windows will have access to the cookie.  I made a new page and scripts to show this.  I tested it in both IE 6.0 and NS 6.2.  Could you try it in NS 4.7 and see if it works?  I can deal with this, although I'm still wondering how to allow access to the cookie by all browser windows.  Here's the script.  And if you think this will suffice (as long as I follow the rules of the theory), I'll accept your answer.  Thanks!

New scripts:
http://www.globalnamespace.com/DB2/cookie.html
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by:maneshr
ID: 6908173
GorGor1,

".. it's back the way you wanted it and the 2 scripts and 1 html page are exactly what you posted above..."

Yes....Yes....Yes....Thanks!!

"...n NS 4.7 and see if it works?  ..."

in NS 4.7 ALL browser windows, i.e window opened earlier and the ones opened from the subsequent windows, get the cookie. So it works EXACTLY like you want it.

Let me check in IE 5.01 and get back to you.
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by:maneshr
ID: 6908178
GorGor1,

Works EXACTLY as expected in IE5.01. Works exactly like NS 4.7

HTH.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6908282
Thanks!  You the man!  I guess cookies work differently than I expected.  I have deducted that the windows have to be 'spawned' from the original window that created the cookie.  If another browser is created from scratch, even if the 'cookie window' is still open, it won't have access to that cookie.  At least that's what I've noticed with IE 6.0.  As long as I follow this 'rule', I should be ok.

Thanks again!  By the way, I'm going to update a previous question that you were helping me with, so be watching your e-mail for the update from EE!  :o)
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by:maneshr
ID: 6908782
GorGor1,

"..At least  that's what I've noticed with IE 6.0...."

Exactly!!! i think this behaviour is unique to IE 6.x & NS 6.x.

Meanwhile, the "problem" i had told you about earlier could also be in the CGI module.

When you use the cookie method and set the expires attribute with a number and an alphabet (+1H, +5s etc..), these are passed to the CGI modules which then does the calculation, create the proper string equivalent of that value (e.g. Sat, 01-Jan-2050 00:00:00 GMT)

This string must be in the proper format,enclosed in quotes and the day-date part should be valid.

Now, my guess is that when the CGI module does this converstion from  number - alphabet combo to a string it might be messing up, either with day-date part or with the format.

Either ways the cookie is not set in IE.

Then 2nd solution i proposed uses the string directly, so we bypass the CGI module completely.
Therefore, it works for us.

Hope that helps.
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by:GorGor1
ID: 6910381
Thanks again for the help!  That was a real pain and I don't think I would have ever figured it out!

Please take a look at this other question I posted and you started helping me with.  I'm pretty much stuck with it at this point...

http://www.experts-exchange.com/jsp/qManageQuestion.jsp?ta=perl&qid=20282270
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