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From the time it was released, one of the things that made Dreamweaver different from other HTML editors was its focus on managing sites, not just pages. While other editors were designed to create Web pages, Dreamweaver was designed to create Web sites. This focus is one of the reasons that Dreamweaver's Site Management tools are so powerful. In this chapter, we will discuss basic site management within Dreamweaver, and some of the tools you can use to take control of your site. No matter how powerful a program's tools are, unless you understand the concepts behind them, you won't be effective when using them.
That's why the first concept I wanted to discuss you is Basic Site Structure. To those new to Web design, the task of creating an entire Web site can be intimidating at first. The truth of the matter is the most Web sites are quite simple. Websites, at their core, are simply a collection of files and folders just like any other project on your computer. Although every Web site is different, some standards have emerged when structuring your site that can help keep your site organized and run smoothly. To create your Web site, you'll first need a folder on your hard drive to put it in. This folder is referred to as your Root folder.
And later, when you define your site, this is the folder that you'll point Dreamweaver to. Inside the root folder, you'll structure your files and folders based on how they need to appear online. If you have a small site, for example, all your HTML files might go right into the root directory. As your sites get larger, or more complex, it's uncommon to create subdirectories to create more structure within your site. You can easily see the structure when browsing online. If we go to lynda.com, for example, and look at the podcasting page of the Web site, we can see that the URL is http://www.lynda.com/home/podcast.aspx that means inside the Root directory there's a folder named Home, and inside that folder there's a file named podcast.aspx.
In addition to structuring pages this way, most Web designers will place site assets into their own folders as well. It's a good way to organize the site and make additional assets easier to find images, css, external scripts, videos and other assets are routinely placed within their own folders. For the Explore California site, our assets will also have an underscore placed in front of the folder name. This helps to move these assets folders to the top of any directory structure and makes it easy to identify them as assets, rather than mistaking them for a subdirectory.
The homepage of the site will sit directly within the root directory, and is usually named index or default depending upon the Web server's preferences. After that, how you structure and organize your site is entirely up to you. It is, however, very important to structure your site logically and plan your site structure in detail before you begin creating the files for your site. Understanding site structure is key to managing it properly. Most designers will map out, or wireframe their site before creating even the first file. This will ensure that files are created in the right place, limit the amount of movement site files will undergo during the creation process, and help ensure that the site is properly organized.
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