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The misunderstood aspect of web templates

Dreamweaver Templates - How to Save 1000 of Hours Using Them!

By Gayanath Jayarathne

Now you may think “OK, you are going to talk about fancy web templates out there which may save my initial designing efforts”. No, I am going to talk about “how to make whatever template you choose a BIG-Time-Saver”.

The most misunderstood aspect of web templates is using them as time servers. If you use same HTML file and change a particular part and save it as another web page, you move onto a big mess that can cost you 1000 of hours in the future.

The most phenomenal factor of a web site is “changing”. No matter how nice your template looking now, you will want to change it (For adding a special offer to every page etc).

Think, by the time you will have 100 web pages and if you used “Save As” method you will have to open up all 100 pages and make the necessary change 100 times.

How about doing the change one time and making all 100 pages changed at the same time? Cool, ha? Now let’s move onto the practical side of doing this.

I assume you can work with Macromedia Dreamweaver MX

(1) First create a root folder anywhere in your hard disk.

(2) Open Dreamweaver and select Site>New site…

(3) Dreamweaver asks several questions including your server information. Give a memorable name to your site. You can omit server information and answer them later.

(4) When it asks “Where on your computer do you want to store your files?” choose the root folder you created above.

(5) After setting up your new site, open your HTML file which contain your default site layout (Note: Before opening, save this file and its contents in the root folder you created).

(6) Select File>Save as Template… In the dialog box, check weather the site name you gave has been selected and give a name to your template. Dreamweaver will automatically create a folder called “Templates” in your root folder and save the template in it (Note: Don’t rename or move this Templates folder).

(7) Select a particular part that may get changed from page to page (Like a special table cell where you add body content).

(8) Select Insert>Template Objects>Editable Region and give a name. Then save the changes.

Editable regions allow you to add unique content to each page. Define appropriate editable regions in your template, especially for head and body.

To define editable regions, I prefer direct coding.

Your unique content is here.

Give different names for each editable region. Your editable region exists between above tags.

(9) To create a new page using this template select, File>New>Template-tab>Site-Name>Template-Name. You will notice that except the editable regions, all other parts of the page are “not editable”.

Whenever you want to make a change to all pages do it on the template (Outside of editable regions) and save it. Dreamweaver will ask about updating related pages and will do it with a one click. Dreamweaver makes only the original change you made and doesn’t add any crazy codes to your pages.

That’s it! You have created a huge time saver. Use this time to improve your site ontent.

Feel free to use this article on your web site, blog or in ezine as long as the full content is displayed without any alteration and all active web links remain as they are.
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About The Author

The author Gayanath Jayarathne is the founder of As he says "Working with a template is only a one step of designing a successful web site. There are 11 steps more". Find them all at How to Create Your Own Web Site.

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Last Update: 14-Mar-2009

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