Thursday, August 10, 2006

Collaborative website work in FrontPage 2003 using templates

How many of you out there in libraryland are using FrontPage 2003? How many of you work together with other members of your library's staff to create webpages? Did you know that FP2003 offers up the same type of dynamic web templates as are used in Macromedia's Dreamweaver & Contribute? Caught your attention, did I?

Dynamic web templates, dwt files, allow webmasters to setup a webpage, then to designate which areas of that webpage can be edited by their colleagues. This is ideal for use with people who need to create content and get it up on the web fairly quickly (not requiring the webmaster to copy & paste - or worse still, transcribe - work done in another product that the person is familiar with (e.g., Word)) but who are not webmasters. And webmasters, this allows you to create a consistency in the look of your website.

I just started exploiting the .dwts to allow our reference librarians an easier way to create pathfinders & get them to me in a format that is ready to publish onto the live website ASAP! I use include files for our header & footer and a stylesheet to provide font and background consistency throughout the site. It's all to easy for a less technical person working in FrontPage to remove the links to the headers, footers, and stylesheets. So I created a dwt which takes care of that bit of the code, then opens up the center of the page for the reference librarians to edit at will. It gives them a lot of freedom to create, yet allows me the control necessary for a more efficient and consistent web operation.

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