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Need advice on learning to make big, deep content sites

1:12 am on Jul 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've put together a few simple web sites for myself and relatives using an app called Serif WebPlus (and one site coded by hand in Notepad before I got the software). I had a lot of fun doing this and want to set up some bigger sites but I've very quickly outgrown the Webplus software. I'm demoing Dreamweaver and liking it a lot but I'm not clear on how you would go about making a site that was too large to create each page by hand.

Just for example let's say I wanted to put the full text of War and Peace on a site and have it split into sections with a "next" button to move forward. Or say I wanted to input ten year's worth of journals on a site and have it indexed by date with a separate page for each day. Or have a site with hundreds of photos, and each photo on a separate page, and an index where the user could find the photo based on subject. Is there some more automated way of doing things like this besides making each page manually? I'm sure there must be but I'm not clear on what the approach is.

I'm not asking for step-by-step instructions, just a general idea of what the process for doing this type of thing is. And can I make sites like this with Dreamweaver?

2:46 am on July 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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3 possible ways I can think of:

1) Create one template page to serve as the basis of all pages. Make many copies of that template. Then cut up your source content as needed and paste the pieces into the appropriate location of each page.

2) Write an application (such as a C++ program) that reads the source text (or lists of images, or whatever) from input files, and writes web pages as its output files. This is similar to #1, except the program does the cutting up of the source data and pasting it into pages.

I'm not aware of any features in Dreamweaver (or any design program) that would allow you to mass-create pages without giving at least some individual attention to each page.

3) You can probably do this with a content management system (CMS), too, storing the data pieces in a database and letting the CMS generate the pages dynamically.

3:52 am on July 12, 2008 (gmt 0)

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"Content management system" is the magic phrase I needed to know. Now I can find a ton of info by Googling. It looks fairly advanced though.


3:09 pm on July 15, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yup, CMS is the way to go. The two big ones are wordpress and drupal. Wordpress is far more common, but you might consider drupal for that level of site. I've got a few sites with pages in the XX,#*$! range and my initial investigation leads me to think drupal does a better job of that.

Specifically for your war and peace example, drupal has a book module that works well.


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