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Old 02-25-2006, 10:44 PM   #1
BobRoosth
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Default Site Navigation How To?

One question that keeps bugging me is that of keeping the navigation menus of a site consistent over time. Linked CSS allows me to update/correct font, colors, etc by changing a single file. But most sites I see that use lists and CSS for menus include the menu content in every page.

What does one do when one decides the menu structure needs changing? Update every page. Seems rather inefficent.

One site a I maintain implements menus entirely with javascript. Another uses ASP. A third uses frames.

Is there a consensus on best or most reasonable practive for sites of more than a few pages?
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Old 02-26-2006, 12:37 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
One question that keeps bugging me is that of keeping the navigation menus of a site consistent over time. Linked CSS allows me to update/correct font, colors, etc by changing a single file. But most sites I see that use lists and CSS for menus include the menu content in every page.

What does one do when one decides the menu structure needs changing? Update every page. Seems rather inefficent.
Two options:
  1. For a completely static site, use a global search-and-replace in a decent editor (if it support regular expressions for that, that may help)
  2. Just generate the menus with a server-side script - you only need to change the script once (or its data, rather) - by far the easiest way if you have that available on your server (and most do have some sort of scripting available)
Don't do it with a client-side script since it would make navigation impossible for all those who don't use scripting (5-10%). As to frames... that is so 1990

   
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Old 02-26-2006, 06:41 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
One question that keeps bugging me is that of keeping the navigation menus of a site consistent over time. …

Is there a consensus on best or most reasonable practive for sites of more than a few pages?
I doubt there is a real consensus, but that is exactly the problem that has driven me to explore Big Medium, a sort of low-intensity CMS (content management system) that will automatically update pages with current content.

I am stalled right now, as I realized when setting it up that I really needed a clearer sense of what I wanted to do, so have been working on that. But it is pretty easy to understand, compared to other more potent CMS programs.

BTW, I looked at several programs, most either inexpensive or free (open source). The simpler ones (Word Press, Movable Type, etc.) tend to be blog-like, which is not what I wanted. Most can be bent to your will, but that may take a level of technical understanding that I lack.

Before Big Medium I tried to work with Textpattern, but my techiness was lacking, and its impulse toward blogdom too great (even though the developer’s web site is controlled by it, and is not a blog). But it is elegant and possibly more capable than many in its category. I may try it again at some point. The developers are great.

Many here like Joomla (formerly Mambo), which is extremely powerful and flexible. A member of the development team visits here occasionally, and is very helpful. We have discussed this software in several threads, including this one: “The power of Joomla.” (Searching on the word will bring up a few others as well.)

I guess I am suggesting that you look into content management systems!

   
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Old 02-26-2006, 05:34 PM   #4
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It seems to me the simplest is a #include with SHTML. Assuming the server supports it. I don't need it to be generated so much as included inline.

Are there any significant downsides to that approach?
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Old 02-26-2006, 05:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for the information.

I saw your earlier discussion of these. For a new site one or the other might be a good starting point, but I tend to be too much of a coder to want to rely on someone else's code generator. That's one reason I like Dreamweaver. It lets me switch between HTML and WYSIWYG seamlessly. And tells me about syntax errors ASAP.
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Old 02-26-2006, 06:24 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobRoosth
I tend to be too much of a coder to want to rely on someone else's code generator. That's one reason I like Dreamweaver. It lets me switch between HTML and WYSIWYG seamlessly. And tells me about syntax errors ASAP.
But, but, but … Dreamweaver is a code generator!

I write all my sites with a text editor — so I do write all the CSS and HTML myself. BBEdit will also tell me about syntax errors (as will the developer extension to Firefox).

The problem is that none of these tools will write PHP or Perl for me (and I do not feel competent to do so myself); that’s why I got interested in CMS programs.

Not as a replacement for HTML, XHTML, or CSS; as a replacement for PHP, Perl, et al.

   
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Old 02-26-2006, 09:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktinkel
But, but, but … Dreamweaver is a code generator!{...)

The problem is that none of these tools will write PHP or Perl for me (and I do not feel competent to do so myself); that’s why I got interested in CMS programs.
DW certainly can write (simple) PHP for you... in a case like this, all you really need is a simple include - in PHP just as simple as with SHTML.

   
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Old 02-27-2006, 06:17 AM   #8
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DW certainly can write (simple) PHP for you... in a case like this, all you really need is a simple include - in PHP just as simple as with SHTML.
I didn’t know that. Thanks.

Probably because I have DW 4; haven’t upgraded.

   
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Old 02-27-2006, 09:01 AM   #9
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all you really need is a simple include - in PHP just as simple as with SHTML.
I wonder what the feeling is on the server overhead of processing SHTML, PHP, or such, instead of simply downloading HTML files ? At one time that was a significant concern. Not so anymore ?

   
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Old 02-27-2006, 10:14 AM   #10
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I wonder what the feeling is on the server overhead of processing SHTML, PHP, or such, instead of simply downloading HTML files ? At one time that was a significant concern. Not so anymore ?
No. Unless you run seriously heavy programs. You may be penalized if your sites runs a too-heavy load - but simple things slike server-side includes will definitely not cause that (if it does, run to another provider, fast: they're running old-fashioned equipment or loading their boxes with far too many sites).

   
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