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  1. #1
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    Working without frames

    I am a novice working with web pages, but so far whenever I have been playing with them I have used frames. I understand that frames can cause problems with search engines displaying the linked page and missing out the main frames of the site. With this in mind, I would like to setup a simple web site which doesn't use frames.
    I realise that I will loose the ability to keep the menu list stationary while scrolling down the rest of the site, but I will forego this to learn a little more of the simple stuff first.

    I want to have a menu list on the left of the page, a logo and a bit of text at the top. I have seen lots of web sites where clicking on a selection in the menu only changes the main area of the page. I thought this was only possible with frames, but obviously there are plenty of tricks to do this.

    Can someone point me in the direction of how to do this. I know this question is probably very open ended and could be done using a number of tools. To date I have hand-coded the web sites I have worked on (as I said, very simple ones) and would be happy to continue to do this. I have access to FrontPage 2000 and DreamWeaver MX, but have never used them myself.

    Thanks in advance for any pointers

  2. #2
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    Re: Working without frames

    Hi jaf90

    Yes this is a very open question and one I think may cause a bit of opinion to be expressed. My personal view is that frames are not the preferred way to do things these days, not wrong just not preferred. I have created a couple of sites for people who wanted framesets as this fitted in nicely with what they wanted as they were not interested in going "global" and were not fussed about search engines picking them up as they were local businesses that just wanted a presence to the local community and slightly wider.

    It can be very tempting to use frames, but a frameless site is faster, compatible with any browser, it can be bookmarked, and is easier to manage afterward.

    Again my personal preferred tool is Dreamweaver as it has a good GUI and WYSIWYG interface and allows to create good, clean code unlike FP .

    My suggestion is to keep it simple to start, possibly using a table layout to start and design the frot page to your liking and use this as the template for the rest of the pages. There are a lot of pitfalls if you use dynamic layout as you suggest.
    Jerry

  3. #3
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    Re: Working without frames

    I guess to keep it at its most simple I would reload the whole page each time i click on a different link?

    I will have a play without frames and see what I can manage.

    You mention using a table layout - would this allow me to only change particular "cells" in the table, therefore working in a very similar way to frames?

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    Re: Working without frames

    >would this allow me to only change particular "cells" in the table <img src=/S/hmmn.gif border=0 alt=hmmn width=15 height=15>


    What have you got in mind...graphics, text? Effectively the answer is yes but can you give me an idea of what you want to do and how much you want to change as this may help me get the answer. I have a feeling we may be going down the scripting route... but give me an idea of what you want to achieve.
    Jerry

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    Re: Working without frames

    If I understand your question, you're trying to avoid resending the common parts of each page between navigations in your site.

    In today's world of broadband connections, this is generally not an issue - especially if you take care to optimize the file size of your pages. I generally aim for 100KB as a maximum file size for any home page. This will satisfy all broadband users (<3 seconds usually) and most dial-up users (<20 seconds, give or take).

    With that said, it's quite acceptable to resend the menus, headers, and footers for each page request. If anything, the biggest benefit from reuse comes on the server/design side. I always try to only maintain site navigation in one place by using a server-side-include or some kind of data-driven menu system. But the end result is that this content is still sent with each page request.

    To learn more about efficient (even if less-than-visually attractive) page designs, check out Jakob Nielsen's site: http://www.useit.com
    Jakob is a widely-recognized industry leader in web usability and efficiency.

  6. #6
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    Re: Working without frames

    Change text in the main "cell" - that is provided tables and frames work in much the same way. Left cell would be menu, a top cell for header / graphic and the rest taken up with a "cell" showing text pages which would be changed as each menu is clicked.

  7. #7
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    Re: Working without frames

    I'll have a look around the suggested site, but as you say, efficient isn't always nice to look at. I will keep the graphics to an absolute minimum anyway as I've seen relatively few sites where the graphics add anything to it other than extra download time.

  8. #8
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    Re: Working without frames

    Two points:
    1) Graphics only take the full download time the first time a user receives them. Once they are cached, they load MUCH faster.
    2) If you aren't using any graphics (only text and formatting instructions), your page will be so small and fast that you won't gain any value from implementing a partial page-load solution (such as frames or a fancy scripted table-cell-replace solution). Just send the full page each time - nobody will know the difference!

  9. #9
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    Re: Working without frames

    Frankly, I'd avoid frames. They render differently in every browser and don't lead to a clean appearance. My <img src=/S/2cents.gif border=0 alt=2cents width=15 height=15>.

    I use Server-Side Includes (SSI's) to handle navigation/headers and also content on a great many sites that I build and/or maintain (larger sites usually require a database driven approach). Once any menu graphics or other items are in the user's cache, page loads become much quicker. If you view my homepage on my personal site, the menus and headers render almost instantaneously on subsequent page navigations. The horizontal and vertical menus consist of one unique graphic apiece, with hyperlinked text over the top. Alignment is controlled via a small table.

    Just a thought for you. I hear a lot of talk that tables are also passe in design nowadays, but I don't really care. They work. <img src=/S/smile.gif border=0 alt=smile width=15 height=15>
    -Mark

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