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How to Update Your Web Site Using Server Side Includes (SSI)
Copyright 2002 Herman Drost
Recently a person asked me if I could replace 125 web pages of her web site with a new drop-down navigation system. If she had to do this manually, she would have to change each page and upload it separately to the server. This would take hundreds of hours. So, whatís the answer Ė use Server Side Includes (SSI)
What is Server Side Includes (SSI)? This is where you can insert one line of simple code to update any web page . This line of code "includes" any file (i.e. navigation bar, header, footer) you wish to insert in each or all of your web pages. Changing this one "include" file and uploading it to your server enables you to update your entire web site without even touching your web pages. It can now be a breeze to update page content such as headers, footers, navigation bars and changing products.
Here are the steps to take:
1. Check that your web hosting plan supports Server Side Includes (SSI)-most do.
2. Create an "includes" folder in your web site files.
3. Create the "includes" file containing your navigation bar, header, footer (or whatever file you wish to update on your site). It could be a text or html document. If it is an html file, then only copy what is between the body tags. Remove any html header, footer and body tags from your file. Name this file nav.htm.
5. Place the following code on the particular web page where you want your navigation bar to appear.
(!--#include virtual="/includes/nav.htm" --)
I also made sure my menu.css and virtual.js files had the same file paths and placed the code for these files in the header tags of my web page (blank.shtml)
(LINK REL=STYLESHEET TYPE="text/css" HREF="includes/menu.css")
You could create a line of SSI code for these files also. I left them as they are, because the .js and .css files are already included in the header tags of the /blank.shml page.
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6. Change the extension name (maybe it was .htm) of this web page that contains your line of code, to .shtml (in my example itís blank.shtml).
7. Upload your includes folder and your web page (blank.shtml) to your server.
8. Refresh (right click your mouse and look for refresh) your web page to reflect your new navigation bar.
Hereís the finished page with the new drop-down navigation bar.
Now, if you wish to change the appearance of your navigation bar throughout your web site, you just need to edit one file (nav.htm file), then upload it to your server. Your changes should appear immediately on every page of your web site where you included the SSI code.
Congratulations! You have just saved yourself hundreds of hours of time updating your web site.
Other resources for Server Side Includes (SSI)
Using Server Side Includes in Dreamweaver It is very easy to use Server Side Includes in Dreamweaver. Once you have made your Include file, all you need to do is click on insert > Server Side Includes, choose the file you need, make sure the path is relative to the Site Root and insert it.
Using Frontpage Includes Component outfront.net
Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) owner and author of http://www.iSiteBuild.com
Affordable Web Site Design and Low Cost Web Hosting
Subscribe to his "Marketing Tips" newsletter for more original articles. firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more of his in-depth articles at: http://www.isitebuild.com/articles