Creating a web page template with SSI
How to set up your site template with server side includes (SSI).
by Enda McGuinness
You can use includes to varying degrees in setting up your page template.
Taking this example of one site, I have not gone for the full template with includes
but rather the sections as shown.
I have used includes to help maintain the content that is on all pages and are likely
to change regularly, such as guides links or weblog links, rather than using them for all constant page
elements as many people use them.
As you can see I use them for the logo (nested SSI, the logo changes), the left column,
the right column and copyright information.
Building the entire page template to be included is not that difficult but does require
a little planning. First thing is to build your site template of course.
When that's done you need to select the different elements which you want to include.
Starting with the non-visual elements such as doctypes, meta tags etc. The example below
shows the basic code you may have in any page. The code highlighted in red is what you
could use includes for.
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN"
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" />
<meta name="Robots" content="Index" />
<link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="style.css" />
<body alink="" vlink="" link="" leftmargin="" topmargin="" onload="">
Really you could have an include for all of the above but why bother? Of the above
I would definitely recommend using one for your body tag as you can easily change
to edit every page individually, bit of a trial if you have 50 pages!
Of the page elements which will be 'seen' just about everything could be included,
except the actual content, no point!
Visually this can be demonstrated as follows:
In the diagram above I have used includes for the logo, a banner (rotator script etc),
top page navigation, the entire left and right page columns, copyright notice and footer
These can be combined into nested includes. For example the includes for logo, banner and top
navigation links could all be put into one file called header.shtml.
The entire page can therefore be done something like this:
<!--#include virtual="meta_tags.txt" -->
<body <!--#include virtual="body-styles.txt" -->>
<!--#include virtual="logo.shtml" -->
<!--#include virtual="banner-rotator.shtml" -->
<!--#include virtual="top-links.shtml" -->
<!--#include virtual="left-column.shtml" -->
<!--#include virtual="right-column.shtml" -->
<!--#include virtual="copyright.txt" -->
<!--#include virtual="footer-links.shtml" -->
Sounds simple enough, yah?
The easiest way to do the above is, after you have fixed your basic site template,
decide what parts you want to include. Then copy and paste these parts into seperate
files preferably into an "includes" folder. Go back to your template now and insert
the relevant include command in the correct positions. This can now be the template
for the rest of your site.
Best to start with a simple template until you get the hang of it!