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Using SSI to Boost Efficiency

Have you always thought Server Side Includes (SSI) was too complex? Check out Clay Dowling's tips as he explains some simple SSI directives and how to simplify managing navigation menus.

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By: Clay Dowling
Rating: 4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars4 stars / 9
August 16, 2004
  1. · Using SSI to Boost Efficiency
  2. · Enabling SSI
  3. · Simple SSI Directives
  4. · How to Use SSI
  5. · Navigation Menus
  6. · Common HTML Blocks
  7. · Business Considerations

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Using SSI to Boost Efficiency - How to Use SSI
(Page 4 of 7 )

Knowing the basic directives, you're now ready to start putting them into action. If you use the typical situation of developing on your local machine and then deploying to your server, you'll need to set up a local web server. Because features are handled slightly differently, it's a good idea to use the same web server on both production and development machines.  If you're deploying to an Apache server and running a Windows desktop, you'll also need to make sure your local web server really is an Apache server.

From the Services tool (under Administrative Tools on the control panel), choose the World Wide Web Publishing service, right click, and select properties.  If the "Stop" button is enabled, disable it.  Then change "Startup Type" to either "Manual" or "Disabled".  The screen capture below shows what it should look like when you have finished.

Using SSI

If  you haven't done it yet, install the Apache server now (httpd.apache.org) as a system service, and perform the steps described earlier in "Enabling SSI".  If you already have Apache installed, start it now and set it to start automatically. Manage this through the services panel just as you did for IIS.

The biggest gain available is from identifying common page elements that are repeated on all pages.  On my sites, these include page headers, footers and navigation menus.  I also have several common elements which don't appear on every page, but do appear on several pages.  These are all good candidates for SSI. A recent calculation showed that I reduced redundant text in my pages by 40% just by putting my navigation, headers and footers into SSI files. That's a nice savings in time during construction and maintenance.

The #flastmod directive also does a little work for me, keeping my download pages up to date. I haven't been able to measure how much effort this saves me, but it's a great convenience. I have a weak memory for routine details, and it makes sure my visitors can tell when something has been updated. If you have download pages with items that are occasionally updated, you have a good opportunity to take advantage of this directive.  You can change the format of the date that is displayed; check the documentation for your web server for the #config directive.

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