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Last week I was on holiday in the Sauerland region of Germany. I had promised myself not to think about either work or SDN. I must confess that I didn’t entirely keep my promise, certainly not concerning SDN. However there were some extenuating circumstances Your Honour:

  • The weather turned from enjoyably warm to freezing cold with snow. On top of that the attraction parks were still (untraditionally) closed due to the bad weather of this last winter. That made entertaining the two kids more difficult. Sure, there was the (Erlebnis) Minigolf and Sommerrodelbahn. Luckily Bob der Baumeister, Die Koala Brüder and Die Schlümpfe came to the rescue from time to time.
  • My daughter had the chicken pox, so the swimming pool was out of the question. So one of us needed to stay in the room with her and I was mostly chosen to entertain her. Luckily she sometimes takes an afternoon nap.
  • Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress (translated in Dutch as Juvenalis dilemma) was a page turner, so I finished it sooner than expected.

What was I thinking about then, you might wonder. Well, I was day dreaming of an easy way of creating/editing a web log. Currently I’m using Brian’s dot file for Word and an ABAP program for skipping all the Microsoft clutter. This works very well. But I wondered what I should use next week at the SDN meets Labs in Walldorf when I have the unstoppable urge to create a web log of the exciting stuff I’m bound to see. I was summing up the things that I needed to install on the laptop I’ll bring along: Word, SAP GUI and a VPN client. The latter would prevent me from using a PowerBook.

So I was looking for a better solution. Of course an online editor would be the ‘nec plus ultra’. But it isn’t there (yet). I wonder btw if there would be a suitable online editor anyway. Not only is it tedious to support all browsers (see also my article on this), but one needs a tool that is also flexible enough to support the things web loggers require (text areas to name but one). The future will tell.

Since I don’t have a crystal ball, I needed to find a solution that will work next week. So I decided to have a look at what Dreamweaver could do for me. Although I’m code typer, I like this tool very much because iit doesn’t generate all this unwanted clutter in your code. It’s also rather good WYSIWYG which is precisely what I was looking for.
I first looked at the possibility of customising Dreamweaver itself, more specifically the insert bar, and defining SDN web log specific tags, but I soon discovered that this was more than overkill. I couldn’t resist trying it though and created an extra H4, H5 an H6 in the Text insert bar. You can download and unzip it in your Dreamweaver directory (keep path info). Don’t forget to make a backup of insertbar.xml in the Dreamweaver MX installationConfigurationObjects directory.

The solution I found is less far fetched: templating. Dreamweaver has a nice solution for this. My first intention was to write an article on this, but I wanted to test my own solution, so the result will be spread over 2 web logs.

Templating

Dreamweaver has the ability to provide end users templates which are simply structures used for common pages with a certain basic design wherein only the content varies. The editor only needs to worry about the content and not the design. In fact he/she can’t alter the design.

I created a template based on the layout of an SDN web log, but left the navigation bars put. What’s most important is that the result looks the same as it would if it was published. In order to establish that, I’ve downloaded a sample web log and skipped all the things we don’t need. In essence it comes down to integrating the correct style sheet and a couple of images. I won’t trouble you with too many details about this though. Just have a look at the code if you need more info on this.
The only thing I needed to do next is to mark the areas which are editable. There are two regions which apply for this. The title and the web log itself.

Installation

So how do you install this template? First of all you need Dreamweaver of course. Secondly you need to download this zip, and unzip the content to a directory (keep path info). Let’s assume that you’ve put everything under c:sdn

Step 1:

Create a virtual site. Dreamweaver templates can only be used if you define a site for them. It’s real easy. Choose New Site in the Site menu. The only thing you need to fill in is a name and a directory.

image

Step 2:

Edit the template. You will notice that the template is customised for my personal use. This implies that my photo, name and company is shown. You don’t want that of course, unless you are a big fan of mine, so you need to change that in the template. Make sure that you don’t change anything else, certainly not the things that begin with

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