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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 webpages, Dreamweaver was designed to create websites. This focus is one of the reasons that Dreamweaver's site management tools are so powerful. In this chapter we're going to discuss basic site management within Dreamweaver and some of the tools that 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 want to discuss here is basic site structure. To those new to Web design the task of creating an entire website can be a little intimidating at first. The truth of the matter is that most websites are actually quite simple. Websites at their core are simply a collection of files and folders just like any other project on your computer. Although every website is different, some standards have emerged when structuring your site that can help keep your site organized and running smoothly. To create your 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 not uncommon to create subdirectories to create more structure within your site. You can easily see this structure when browsing online.
For example, if we're on the Lynda.com site and we go to the page where we can sign up to join the mailing list and receive the Lynda.com newsletter. If you look at the URL, you can see that this page is titled newsletter.aspx, that's the name of the file that we're looking at. However, just to the left of that we can see forward slash (/) news. That's the name of the directory that this page is inside of. If you were to look at this structure from a folder directory view, you'd have the root folder, which the Lynda.com site was inside of, and then you'd have another folder called News, which this newsletter.aspx file would sit inside of as well.
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 easy to find. Images, CSS, external scripts, videos, and other assets are routinely placed within their own folders. For the Roux Academy site, which we will be building throughout this course, all of our asset folders will have an underscore in front of their name, as you can see here; _css, _fonts, _images, and _scripts.
This helps move those asset folders to the top of any directory structure making them a little bit easier to find, and it makes it easier to identify those as assets rather than mistaking them for a subdirectory within the site. The homepage of the site will sit directly upon the root directory and is usually named index or default, depending upon your 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 ensure that the site is properly organized.
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