Here’s a really simple way… to maintain and speed up your web site development.
As your web site grows, so does the problem of maintaining it become more complex. Even a two or three page site can have a lot of detail in it. If you want to make any changes to the links or content you have to do so for each page on the site, and then upload all the new information.
All this can be very time consuming and also create the possibility of errors creeping in, which can make your site look less professional. This is where PHP can come to your assistance. I am not going to go into an explanation of PHP here, there are lots of sites online where you can find out more detail about it, if you wish to get more involved. Here, I am going to show some simple techniques to help you with your web site creation and maintenance, thus saving you lots of time and reducing the risk of errors.
How to change information across a complete site easily using PHP.
Say you have a list of links across the top of your page and you want to maintain these links over a 20 page site. If you were to change one of those links, you would manually have to do it for the remaining 19 pages also. As you can appreciate this would be a time consuming process making the changes and uploading each page seperately. Also the potential to make a mistake is very great indeed.
However using the method outlined below, you will be able to update complete sites in no time at all, virtually reducing the possibility of making mistakes to zero.
The trick is to use PHP to ‘include’ a header and a footer template called from your main file ‘index.php’
Don’t worry if this does not make sense at present as all will be explained shortly.
Here is an example of a index.php file:
<?php include ‘template/header.php’; ?> Place your content here. <?php include ‘template/footer.php’; ?> =============================================
Point your browser to http://www.seazzypromotions.com/example to see it in action. View the source on that web page and notice all the HTML. Where did all that come from you ask? All will be revealed now, and then you are well on your way to easily generating and maintaining your sites with ease.
Notice the first segment:
<?php include ‘template/header.php’; ?>
You must always include the opening tag: <?php and the ending tag: ?> In between them we have an instruction to ‘include’ a file called ‘header.php’ which is located in a folder on your web site called ‘template’. Obviously these can be renamed to anything you like.
Now for the second segment:
<?php include ‘template/footer.php’; ?>
Again, we have given an instruction to ‘include’ a file called ‘footer.php’ which is also located in a folder called ‘template’ on your web site, in the same directory or folder as your ‘index.php’ file.
To see these files individually go to: http://www.seazzypromotions.com/example/template/header.php and http://www.seazzypromotions.com/example/template/footer.php and view the source code on those pages using your web browser. Now you can add content to your web pages by inserting or copying and pasting existing code between the PHP segments of your ‘index.php’ file as shown above. That is it!
Using An Editor
To change any information in the ‘header.php’ for example, just open that file in an editor and make your changes. Then save and upload ‘header.php’ to the ‘template’ folder on your web site. Go to ‘index.php’ and all your changes are magically included. You can see the benefits of this. If you had a site with 20 pages, all your changes happen on every page by just editing this one ‘header.php’ file.
Just ‘include’ the header and footer files into every other page you make as in the ‘index.php’ file, calling your second page for example ‘products.php’, then ‘contact.php’ etc. The only thing different between all the pages will be the content you insert between the header and footer sections. So, if you have put off learning PHP until now, I hope that this has encouraged you to make a start.
There are countless other ways to use PHP and maybe one day you could even program your own safelist script using it. Use the source from the examples and make changes to the ‘header.php’ and ‘footer.php’ files and see this in action for yourself. Above all have fun!