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Special Edition Using HTML 4

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Managing and Staging Files

by Jerry Honeycutt and Mark R. Brown

Managing Your Source Files

If you're working with a fairly complex Web site, you might start pulling your hair out trying to manage all those HTML files--not to mention graphics, sounds, videos, ActiveX controls, plug-ins, and so on. The tools you learn about in this chapter will help you better manage all those files. Here's a list of the tools discussed in the chapter.

Visual SourceSafe

Microsoft Visual SourceSafe (see Figure 38.1) is a product that developers traditionally use for version control. It allows a developer to maintain each version of a file as the developer makes changes to it. For example, a developer might create a source file and check it into the SourceSafe. Then, when the developer is ready to make changes to the file, he checks out of SourceSafe, makes any required changes, and checks it back into SourceSafe. SourceSafe keeps both versions of the file so that the developer can backtrack if necessary. Not only that, SourceSafe makes it easy to report on the history of a file, merges changes from multiple developers, and so on.

Visual SourceSafe has features that a Web developer will find useful, too. Since you work with many source files on a daily basis, SourceSafe is an ideal solution to help you keep track of the changes you make. You can organize all of your HTML and graphics files into projects that represent a Web site. Then, the Visual SourceSafe Administrator can designate your project as a Web site project. Once that's done, you can use three special SourceSafe features to help manage your site:

For more information about how you can use Visual SourceSafe to manage your Web site, take a look at Microsoft's Visual SourceSafe Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/ssafe.

FIG. 38.1
Visual SourceSafe organizes your projects like file folders.

Spidersoft WebGal

As your Web site becomes more complex and more people work on the site, reusable code will become much more valuable. You'll want to reuse and share style sheets, for example. You'll also want to reuse small bits of HTML that generate forms, frames, and tables. What about scripts? Scripts are a perfect thing to reuse in your Web site.

You can't find a better tool that you can use to manage reusable HTML than Spidersoft's WebGal. First, WebGal is a well-built, world-class program. Its quality rivals many products that Microsoft builds. You can get your own copy of WebGal at Spidersoft's Web site (http://www.spidersoft.com). Click Download to download the install file. Figure 38.2 shows you what WebGal looks like with the sample gallery file loaded.

WebGal has features that are especially designed for managing reusable bits of HTML and other objects. For example:

FIG. 38.2
WebGal has an Explorer-like interface.

Using Microsoft FrontPage 98

Microsoft FrontPage 98 is one of the hottest HTML editors on the market. If the only thing that FrontPage 98 provided was a WYSIWYG HTML editor, that would be enough. But FrontPage 98 also provides a graphical tool you can use to manage the organization all of the files on your Web site. Take a look at Figure 38.3. Chapter 42, "Using HTML and Site Tools," shows you how to install and use FrontPage 98. You can download a trial version from Microsoft's Web site at http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage.

With FrontPage 98, you don't have to worry about how the files are organized within your Web site. FrontPage Explorer manages the organization of your files behind the scenes. That is, instead of dealing with directories and files, you work with documents in FrontPage Explorer. So what else can you do with FrontPage Explorer? Plenty, as noted here:

FIG. 38.3
You must let FrontPage 98 manage the directory structure itself. You view the organization of your files through FrontPage Explorer.

Using NetObjects Fusion

NetObjects Fusion is a product with very similar features to Microsoft FrontPage. It's a complete Web site manager and HTML editor rolled into a single product. Whereas FrontPage Explorer displays a Web site as a group of pages with lines connecting them (a directed graph), Fusion displays a Web site as a strict hierarchy that you can view as a structure chart (see Figure 38.4) or an outline.

You can download an evaluation copy of NetObjects Fusion from the NetObjects Web site at http://www.netobjects.com. Click Software Download and follow the instructions you see on the Web page.

TIP: Since FrontPage's site management features are a bit stronger than Fusion's, and Fusion's site wizards are stronger than FrontPage's, many folks start their Web site using Fusion and then manage it using FrontPage.

Working Directly with Files

Microsoft FrontPage and NetObjects Fusion are tools that automatically manage your HTML files for you. You're not actually aware of how those files are stored on the disk. If you're still hand editing and organizing HTML files, however, you need to come up with a scheme that helps you keep everything straight.

FIG. 38.4
Double-click one of the boxes representing a Web page to open it in Fusion's HTML editor.

The following sections describe things you should consider when organizing your Web site in this manner.

Using the Structure of the File System  Use the hierarchical structure of the file system. If you think about your Web site for a moment, you'll realize that it probably has a very hierarchical structure, like an outline. Create a directory structure on your disk that reflects this organization. For example, if your Web site is organized similar to Figure 38.5, you might create a directory structure that looks like Figure 38.6. Note how the home page is in the root directory, while each Web page to which the home page is linked has a directory directly underneath the home page. All of the files required by a Web page (graphics, sounds, controls, and so on) are stored in the directory with the home page so you can keep an accurate inventory of the files on which the Web page is dependent.

Mirroring Your Web Site Locally  If you're not using one of the Web site management programs such as Microsoft FrontPage or Visual SourceSafe, you'll want to keep a copy of your Web site on your local hard drive--regardless of your Web site's directory structure. In fact, you should edit those files locally, and then upload them to the Web site when they're ready. Doing so, you always know that the files on your local disk are the one-and-only master copy of your Web site. When working with the files on your local disk, you can use one of the Windows built-in file utilities to organize them:

FIG. 38.5
Keep your Web pages simple and organized hierarchically so that users can more easily navigate your Web site.

FIG. 38.6
If you link to a Web page from multiple places, don't duplicate the directory for that Web page; just refer to the first occurrence of it.

CAUTION: In order to mirror your Web site locally, you must use directory names and filenames that are valid on both your workstation and the Web server. Note that you can use WS_FTP (the popular Windows 95 file transfer program, available from most Internet download sites, such as http://www.shareware.com) to automatically convert file extensions from one form to another when you upload your HTML files. For example, WS_FTP will automatically convert files with the HTM extension to the HTML extension when you upload them.

Creating Relative References  Relative references are URLs that are relative to the URL of the containing HTML document. For example, next/page.htm is a relative reference, whereas http://www.myserver.com/next/page.htm is an absolute reference. You should always use relative references when linking to a resource on your own Web site. The reason is simple. If you change servers, or you move your Web site to another directory, you have to change all of the absolute references. If you're using a tool such as FrontPage, these would be fixed for you automatically. Since you're managing your files manually, you have to actually change each reference within each file. Relative references assure that if you simply move the entire directory structure of your Web site from one location to another, you don't have to change each reference.

Launching Related Files  Make sure you have the appropriate programs associated with the files to which a Web page is dependent. By doing so, you can easily launch those files while you're exploring the Web site's files. For example, if you're exploring your Web site, you might want to take a look at a graphics file or play a sound file. Windows 95 users have it made. You can view most graphics formats using QuickView, which is provided with Windows 95. You can also launch most video and sound files using the Media Player.

TIP: If you don't have a program associated with a particular type of file, such as JPG, you can probably view that type of file in your Web browser.

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