Amazon Web Services has enhanced its CloudFront content delivery web service to deliver dynamic personalized content for visitors to websites. Jeff Barr’s AWS blog post cut to the chase with an explanation of the technical stakes of dynamic personalized. After noting that web content is uniquely identified through a URL, Barr begins his post with a description of query strings and how servers delivering a request to a website can render personalized information about a user as follows:
A URL can also contain a query string. This takes the form of a question mark (“?”) and additional information that the server can use to personalize the request. Suppose that we had a server at http://www.example.com, and that can return information about a particular user by invoking a PHP script that accepts a user name as an argument, with URLs like:
Up until now, CloudFront did not use the query string as part of the key that it uses to identify the data that it stores in its edge locations. We’re changing that today, and you can now use CloudFront to speed access to your dynamic data at our current low rates, making your applications faster and more responsive, regardless of where your users are located.
In other words, it is now possible for websites delivering content through CloudFront to deliver personalized content depending on the specifics of the URL accessing that website. Because CloudFront supports use of query strings that may identify attributes of a user’s location such as its city, weather, population, etc., websites can now cache and subsequently deliver content specific to types of users. The other notable innovation Amazon Web Services has rolled out with this release features the ability to deliver content from “multiple origin servers” such as Amazon S3, EC2 and third party websites.