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Easy Web Site Maintenance Using Server Side Includes (SSI)

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Easy Maintenance Using Sever Side Includes 

Server Side Includes (SSI for short) is a must-have when you shop for web hosting services. It can be very useful to your web site development. Click here for more information on how SSI will help you.

In this article, I'll discuss how to use SSI to make your web site maintenance a much easier task.

SSI is very necessary for large sites, even though SSI is a pain to learn and implement, and is an increased burden on the server. It's very well worth the pain the next time it comes to redesign your site's navigation system.

Generally, the larger your site is, the more maintenance work you will have, and the more you should consider constructing it with Server Side Includes.

In fact, for any business web site, it's normal and sometimes necessary to change the site structure and navigation system. For example, you developed a new product line and need to add in a new section in your web site. It would be a nightmare for your webmaster if she has to update the links on every page manually.

All these common elements - stuff that is the same on every page: left-side menu, top menu, bottom text, etc. - can be made into a SSI file to be included (inserted) into your web pages. When you need to update these elements, you can simply edit the SSI file instead of every pages.

Take a look at the top menu of this page. In the actual source code shtml file, there's no visible text or links at that place. Instead, all that is there is the following line (SSI directive):

<!--#include file="header.txt" -->

In the header.txt file lives the HTML code of the top menu:

<p align="center">
<a href="../index.shtml">Home</a> | 
<a href="../web-hosting/index.shtml">Web Hosting Plans</a> | 
<a href="../email-hosting/index.shtml">Email Hosting</a> | 

<a href="../web-design/index.shtml">Web Design</a> | 
<a href="../web-promotion/index.shtml">Web Promotion</a> | 
<a href="index.shtml">Support</a> | 
<a href="../faq/index.shtml">FAQ</a> | 
<a href="../resources/index.shtml">Resources</a></p>

But if you "view source" of this page, you won't see the SSI directive at all since the server has processed it before sending it to you.

Whenever I want to change the top menu, add in a "What's New" section for example, I simply edit the header.txt file. Every page containing this menu will be updated then.

That is a timesaver!

Same for bottom menu and text there.

Not only that. Look at the left side of this page. As you can guess, the left-side menu is also generated by SSI. And the newsletter sign up form as well - in case I need to install a new list management script someday.

Now look at the resource box below. No, it's not done by SSI because I don't think I will ever want to change that. My point is, for anything that is on every page and you may want to change someday, use Server Side Include.

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Feel free to use this article in your publication or web site.
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Article by Zac Hewlett at SingaporeWebHosting.com
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