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In Dreamweaver CS5 Essential Training, Adobe Certified Instructor James Williamson explores the tools and techniques of Dreamweaver CS5, Adobe's web design and development software. This course covers both the ins and outs of Dreamweaver, as well as recommended best practices for crafting new web sites and files, the fundamentals of HTML and CSS, and how to ensure clean and accessible code. The course also includes how to use tools in Dreamweaver to create and style web pages, manage multiple sites, and add user interactivity with widgets and scripting. Exercise files are included with the course.
In this chapter, we will be exploring using templates for our site development. Templates can be very helpful in designing your sites, especially in helping you to create pages quickly, keeping your site consistent, and later, it can really help in maintaining your site. Templates allow you to lock certain portions of your design down while allowing editable regions to change from page to page. This means the page elements that are consistent across your site only have to be created once, and when updated will update globally across your entire site.
Before we get started building our templates, I want to make a point about this chapter in that it's a little different from the other chapters in the title. It's important that you go through this chapter in order, as we will be building the templates and then incrementally updating them in each successive movie. Doing the movies out of turn will not give you the proper context of how those changes fit into the overall template workflow. Okay, so now that we have had an overview of how templates work, it's time to get in and start thinking about creating our own templates.
The first step in using templates for your sites is to take a close look at your page design and identify the elements that remain consistent or only change slightly from page to page. So here I have the templates_source.htm file open, and this is the file that we are going to use to create our first template. Now if we think about the design of the Explore California web site, we have a few things that are going to remain constant from page to page. We have a few things that will show up on some pages and not others, and then we have a few areas that are going to be unique for every single page.
Identifying those types of regions are going to be really helpful for you when you're planning your templates. For example, the logo is going to show up on every single page and it's always going to link back to the index or home page of the site. A Region ID will always show up at the top of the page and will display exactly which area of the site the user is in. Underneath that, there's an optional region where breadcrumbs will be used in subdirectories but not from main or top-level pages. So that needs to be on some pages, but not all of them.
If we turn our attention to the navigation and the sidebar, we notice that for the navigation, certain navigation items have submenus, Tours, for example, Resources and Explorers. They are not going to show up on every single page. The sub-navigation is only necessary when I'm in one of those specific regions. So there's another part of our design that is going to be needed on some pages but not all of them. As I go down into the sidebar, each page is going to list our monthly specials and each page is going to showcase some trivia, but the trivia is going to change for every single page.
The footer is going to remain fairly consistent for every single page so it's never going to change. And then if we turn our attention to the mainContent region, we can see that we have got some content on the page right now that is specific to the Backpack California page. And although certain pages are going to share some similarities, for example, tour description pages will be very similar in structure, although the content will vary from page to page. But notice that mainContent region here on the right-hand side, that's really going to change in almost every single page. So really if you can take a high-level overview of your page design like this, it's pretty easy to identify elements that are always going to show up, other elements that are going to be on some pages but not others, and in certain regions that you are really going to need to change from page to page.
Once you perform that kind of assessment, planning your template becomes a lot easier. So what we are going to do now is we have just got this template_source page and this is the page that we are going to base our template off of. The thing that I want to do before I create my template is go ahead and make a lot of these regions generic. That way, if a team member is building a page off of this, they have some type of instruction as to what to do and they don't have a lot of content that they need to delete or get rid of. So the first thing I am going to do is go up to the very top of the page and right here where it says Tours, that's really identifying the region of the site that the user is in.
So we're just going to replace that with the placeholder Region ID. So before I create a template, I go into these sections and create some really generic placeholders that simply identify the content that is going to go there. When I go down to breadcrumbs, I don't need two levels of breadcrumbs. I just need one to start off with and then based upon the page that I am creating off the template, I can add as many breadcrumbs as I need. I am going to select the Backpack Cal breadcrumb, go down to my Tag Selector and use it to select the link that's surrounding it and then delete that.
That will get rid of the text and the link as well and we will just have a singular breadcrumb ready to use. I am going to highlight that breadcrumb and I am gong to replace it with just that, the word breadcrumb. There we go. And I am going to take the page specific link that is there now. I am just going to replace that with a dummy link. I am just going to type in the pound symbol. That's a nice way of just putting in a placeholder link. The a tag will remain, but that's not really going to go anywhere. Now going down the page a little bit, I am also going to take the headline Backpack Cal and I am just going to change that to Page Heading, because every single page we work with does have a main heading.
Now almost every page on our site is going to follow a very similar form. Typically, there is some type of body copy and typically there's an accent image here. Now it would be really tempting to try to keep the accent image, but this is an in-line image, meaning it's literally flowed into this text. So changing the text at all, if you highlight it and start typing it, the image itself will go away. So that makes it very, very difficult to copy and paste text from other source documents without actually getting rid of the image. So moving an image onto the page, even though it does require a little bit of manual labor, isn't that much work.
So it's okay to go ahead and get rid of the image and then make sure that people know that every time you are building a page, this is the accent image that you need to use for that particular page. So I am just going to highlight this copy, knowing that when I start typing, the image is going to go away. And I am just going to type in 'Body content goes here.' So, very short, very descriptive, and there is just not a lot of content for you to replace when you are building pages based off of your new template. Okay, now I am going to save the page and turn my attention over here to the navigation. You may have noticed it seems kind of strange to have all these sub navigation areas visible.
That's certainly not the way that it is going to be within our site. Well, those are going to optional regions. So when we build a page off of our template, we are going to give ourselves the ability to tell the template which if any of those sub-navigation areas we want to be visible. But there is another factor we have to consider here as well. One of the things that we like to do is identify which page we are currently on. For example, if I select the Explorers link and I am just going to do this real quick. You don't need to do this with me. And I add the class current to the link, you will notice that Explorers now displays as the current page.
Well, we need to have that ability from our templates too. When we create a new page off of a template, we need to be able to express that to any new page being created from the template so that the proper link will display as being current. So what we have got here is we have all of our sub-navigation areas and a main navigation area shown as well. That's going to allow us to create what we call optional regions when we build our template and it's also going to allow us to customize these based on the class that's found. Now I will explain that in greater detail in just a moment. But for right now, it leaves us a task at hand that we have to do.
What we are going to do is we are going to assign a baseLink class to each one of these images. That way, we have a class that we can replace with current when we create new pages off of it. I know that may sound a little confusing right now, but trust me. When we get into doing editable attributes in just a little bit, this step will make a whole lot of sense. All right, what I want you to do is click inside the link Tours, use the Tag Selector to select the a tag, it should have the class tours on it, and then hit Command or Ctrl+T based on which platform you are on. This is going to bring up the Quick Tag Editor.
What I would like you to do is go into the class attribute. Right now what it should say class = tours. Place your cursor right after the S, but in front of the quotation mark, hit a Space, and then type in baseLink. This class is not in our CSS and doesn't mean anything. What it does is it gives us a placeholder class that we can use later on to replace with current if in fact it is the current link. So I am going to hit Return and then we are going to do that for every single one of these links.
So that will take us a little bit of time but the hard work we are putting in right now is really going to payoff when we are building pages based off this template. So I am just going to go to every link, click on the a tag, and hit Ctrl or Command+T. Right after that, I am going to go into the class and right after the initial class, I am going to type in a space and then just type in baseLink. Now, we are going to do that for every single link. So just go right on down the page, do that to all of them. Now, you may have at least one. I am going to have two, because I have got this Explorers here. But this Tours Photos one, when you select that one, and bring your link up, you will see that current is already there.
Just in that case, highlight current and type in baseLink. So there is your homework. I know that is going to take a little bit of time. But just go down and select each one of these guys, hit Command+T, go into class, hit Space and type in baseLink. You will be surprised at how quickly you sort of get into the rhythm of that. Now if you are not familiar with applying classes, one of the things I would like to point out here is that indeed tags and elements can have multiple classes applied to them, and the way that we define that is in the value, we just put spaces between them.
So you can have as many classes applied to an element as you would like. That is not a problem. Okay, after you are done doing the links, in the interest of time, I'm just going to skip down into the trivia section, but it's really important for you to finish out those links. So just go through them in order and add baseLink as a class to each one of those. Okay, I am going to go all the way down to the bottom and I am going to find this trivia section. Did you know is going to remain the headline for our trivia, but each page is going to have its own unique trivia fact. So what I am going to do here is replace that text with trivia body.
So again that's how we will know exactly where that trivia content goes. All right. Now I am going to do a Save As, and I want to save this in the 13_01 folder, just in the root directory there, and I am going to call this main_template.htm. Now, that does not make it a template, but what that does give us is a page structure that's clean, neutral, and this is the page that's going to serve as a blueprint for the template that we are about to build. Now, my advice is to take some extra time when you are preparing your templates.
Make sure you are thinking through how each page will be structured. It's easier to make adjustments to which areas will be editable as you are creating your templates than it is later in the process. Well, now that we have a page ready to be converted into a template, we are going to explore the process of creating template pages in our next movie.
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