Web sites: building common components centrally
Hello, I am working on a project which as user interface has a web site. The software is information intensive and produces much data. What the website consists of is plain informative documents(such as FAQs), and various data files which are statically produced. The browser-sophisticance requirement for solving my problem can be fairly high since the userbase is software developers; support for client side XSLT transformation can be assumed, if it's deemed necessary. The problem I have is of plain web design: How do I in the best way insert common elements, such as footers and navigation, into every file which is part of the website? Currently, my plan is to write/produce all documents in XHTML, and associate every file with an XSLT which adds the common parts such as base CSS, headers, navigation, footers, and so forth; the styleheet would "merge" the document with the common elements. To me it sounds practical, the documents are standalone, valid XHTML documents(they can be validated and tested independently) and the website framework is centrally controlled. Bandwidth can be saved by doing the transformation at the client. Perhaps it is restraining if the navigation is somehow dynamic/context bound, affected by the document, I cannot yet tell. But this is a common problem -- how do people usually solve this? I've worked with a PHP framework, where documents were written in php-tags+body content + php tags, and the php tags then inserted the XML declaration, navigation, and head, html tags, and so forth(the documents were not well-formed). When the documents needed to affect the navigation, such as to add a menu, they simply declared PHP variables. Apart from that, this copy&paste solution was of course a major pain; impossible to validate the documents, and just think about extending or integrating an XML technology, such as Docbook.. I might add that I have no dependency on a procedural server-side language, and it would be nice if it stayed that way. How do people usually solve this insert-navigation-on-every-page problem? What would be a suitable solution for my case? I guess the subject qualifies as off-topic, to some degree. Cheers, Frans
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