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Covering diverse topics such as improving workflow and managing CSS styles, Dreamweaver CS3 Beyond the Basics is a hands-on course that teaches users how to move beyond standard, static websites. Instructor James Williamson explores how to increase productivity, interactivity, and accessibility with Dreamweaver. He also discusses how to extend the application's capabilities with XML and XSL. Exercise files accompany the tutorials.
We are back in our monthly special ad. We have automated the update process by adding variables to the file and what we are going to look at in this movie is externalizing those variables so that they are actually in an external text file rather than inside the Photoshop file which requires a lot more manual labor. And to do that we need to very quickly review our variables. So I am going to go up to Image and Variables and we'll hit our Data Sets and just to review we have our first variable, which is artistName. Then we have benBack, danBack and jenBack, which refer to their background, and then we have a new background, which if you remember is an empty layer that allows us to import other JPEGs or files in that place. So we have got that established. I am just going to hit Cancel here. So what I am going to do is I am going to launch a text editor and regardless of what platform you are on, you can just launch a real basic text editor whether it's NotePad or TextEdit or WordPad, whatever you like to use it's fine. We need to talk about the format of actually setting up these variables. Now the first row is going to be the variable names themselves. So the first row we are going to declare our variable names and we are going to use the exact same name, exact same capitalization that we used earlier and these variable files are just raw text files, but they can also be comma and tab delimited files. So if you have a way of automating that process, you can add another degree of automation to this document creation inside of Photoshop.
So our first variable of course is artistName and I am just going to use a comma to separate these out and I am going to totally ignore TextEdit telling me I have just misspelled something. Then we are going to say benBack, danBack, jenBack and our last variable, which is newBackground. Now after I am done defining the variable names, I am going to hit Return or Enter to go down to the next line. That hard return that Photoshop know that you are done defining the variables and you are about to pass in the values of those variables. So in our next line, we will go in the same order. Our artistName is going to be Josh Cavalier, he is our new artist, and I will type in comma. We'll pass in false for benBack, false for danBack and false for jenBack. Now that's a Boolean value.
So you want to make sure that you don't capitalize true or don't capitalize false; you just want to pass it along just the way that we have got it here. And for newBackground, I am going to type in a document relative path to the image that I want to insert and I am going to type in ../_images/typo_ad.jpg and it's a background that we created earlier or that had been created earlier for us. Now I want to take just a second here to explain the document relative path that I just typed in. The path of the image has to be relative to the text file itself. So relationship between the Photoshop file and the file you are bringing in isn't as important as the relationship between where this text file is going to be saved. So with the ../ that tells us that we are going to save this text file in a folder that is on the root right next to the images folder.
So if I wanted to, I could pass along multiple artists. We are just going to pass along Josh, but I could add two, three, four, five, six, however many artists that I want to add here. So I am going to go up and save this file and I am going to save it as a text file and I am going to place it in my Desktop, Exercise Files, Chapter 1 and I am looking in the starting files and it's not really an XML file, but I will save it in the XML folder because that's a good place for me to store any text files that I might be parsing or using later on.
So I am going to actually save this as imageData.txt. It's just a text file, so I am just going to call it imageData. You could use any name you want to; the name really isn't important there. So we will hit Save and I can now go ahead and close that file out. Of course, you can open up text files in Dreamweaver. So feel free to actually edit these in Dreamweaver just like any other text file if you would like to. Okay, so now once I go back into Photoshop, notice that I can go up to Image and go to my variables and define a new dataset from this external file. You have the option of replacing the existing data sets or just appending to them and we don't want to really replace the other ones, so we are going to append to it. So I am going to choose Import and I am going to browse out to that XML folder and find my imageData.txt file. I will load that up and there are a couple of things here that we need to be aware of.
First thing is use first column for data set names. That's actually going to grab the first value out of the first column, which is not going to be artist name. It will be Josh Cavalier, the artist's name, and that will be the name of the data set which is exactly what I want and I can choose to either replace the existing data sets or not. And I don't want to replace them; I just want to append them. So I will click OK. So now if I look at my data sets in addition to Jennifer Loman, Dan Keys and Ben Wilson, I can see that I have the artist Josh Cavalier. I click on Josh Cavalier's name and preview it. You see that not only is it bringing in the name Josh Cavalier and turning the visibility of the other layers on and off, but it's actually importing in that typo_ad.jpg as a background. So I will click OK and anytime I want to, I can go up to Image > Apply Data Set and I will click the Josh Cavalier data set and I will click Apply. And if you remember from the previous exercise, we can just do a Select All and remember we want to do a Copy Merge, not a Copy because we want to get all the layers. And then if I go back into Dreamweaver, I can now select this graphic, paste it in and there is my variable data added directly on the page using the same optimization settings that we used for the original. So we'll go ahead and hit Save and that's the end of Chapter 1.
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