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theLinker


In order to use TheLinker you will need to organize your site as a set of nested folders corresponding to the information hierarchy you are trying to create. This is really quite natural and easy, so it shouldn't be a problem. Further, each file you wish to have linked needs to include a certain HTML in order to function properly. This section of the documentation, which describes the sample project folder, sets out the basic rules.

How to Use theLinker

TheLinker is a utility for building links between HTML documents, making it easy to navigate between them. To use it, you include certain HTML in your web pages but otherwise author them as usual. When you have created two or more web pages, you drop the folder containing them onto theLinker to create the connecting links.

Project Folder

TheLinker is designed on the assumption that related files reside in the same folder, hierarchically, just like most of the files on your hard disk. What it tries to do is make editing the structure of your web site as easy as dragging files, or folders, around on your hard disk. What you see in the Finder becomes the navigation structure of your web site.

To get you started, you can use the included "0.Sample Project" folder to explore the software. Once you understand how it works, you'll be ready to take off on your own. Let's say that the folder, which contains several files and folders, looks something like this (it probably doesn't match exactly):

0.Sample Project           (The folder containing the project)
  0.default.html           
  1.Introduction.html      
  2.Background             (this is a sub-folder of the project)
    0.default.html        
    1.The Early Years.html 
    2.About The Project.html
  3.Current News.html      

If the "Sample Project" folder is processed through theLinker, and then you open "0.default.html" in your browser, that page will display the following links:

Sample Project
   Introduction
   Background
   Current News

Notice that the "0.default.html" files represent the "folder" display (or "directory listing") for a certain folder, so if you clicked on the word "Background" in the above nav links, you would end up looking at the "0.default.html" file located in the "2.Background" folder. The links on that page would look like this:

Sample Project
   Introduction
   Background
      The Early Years
      About The Project
   Current News

Thus, you can always see "up" to the hierarchy above you, and you can see "down" to the file structure below you

Your HTML File Names

Project folders may contain any combination of HTML, media, and related files. TheLinker's response to a file depends on the file name. If it ends in one of the media file extensions (.JPG, .GIF, etc.), the file is ignored. If you use Lasso (.lasso) or SSI (.shtml) files, you can configure theLinker to process or ignore them, as required. If the file or folder ends in the special extension (.invis) it is ignored. To speed things up, you might put all your graphics in a "graphics.invis" folder, so they are ignored as a group rather than one file at a time.

When TheLinker starts to work on a folder, the file names are listed alphabetically. Since it is unlikely that you will want the files listed in alphabetical order, the first two characters of each file name are removed when building the link text, but can be used to control the listing order. The sample files use a number and a period (as in 0.default.html), but other names, like "aaSmith.html" are equally valid. The exception is the 0.default.html file associated with a folder--it must have that name.

Your HTML File Contents

All HTML files that theLinker needs to modify MUST contain two HTML Comments, "<!--NAV1-->" and "<!--NAV2-->", for TheLinker to work properly. If TheLinker encounters a file in which it does not find these two tags, it doesn't know where to insert the navigation text and makes no changes to the file.

A Minimal Template File

The following HTML provides a minimal framework for use of theLinker: a page-spanning table consisting of one row (two cells). The navigation links will go in one cell (as indicated by the NAV comments) while the "contents" go in the adjacent cell.

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>The Page Title</TITLE>                  
</HEAD>
<BODY>               
<table>  
<tr><td>            
<!--NAV1-->                              <!--THIS TAG MUST BE HERE-->    

THE LINKS WILL GO HERE, REPLACING THIS TEXT    

<!--NAV2-->                              <!--THIS TAG MUST BE HERE-->
</td>
<td>

      YOUR ACTUAL HTML PAGE CONTENTS GO HERE.

</td>
</tr>
</table>
</BODY>
</HTML>

A Typical Template File

Compared to the minimal file, this page template contains additional formatting on the table. Notice, as well, the addition of the following elements:

  • a "nav" style sheet to get rid of the underline usually associated with a link,
  • a "logo" graphic in the upper-left corner of the page to push the navigation links lower,
  • a page background graphic to graphically set off the navigation text (this can also be done with table background colors).

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>The Page Title</TITLE>                  
<style>                                <!--Style sheet-->  
a.nav {text-decoration:none}                 
</style>
</HEAD>
<BODY background="grafix.invis/bg.gif">    <!--page background-->           
<table border=0 cellpadding=0 cellspacing=4> 
<tr VALIGN=TOP><td width=130>             
<img src="grfix.invis/logo.gif">        <!--logo graphic-->       
<p>
<b>
<!--NAV1-->                                    

THE LINKS WILL GO HERE, REPLACING THIS TEXT    

<!--NAV2-->                                    
</b>
</font>
</td>
<td>

      YOUR ACTUAL HTML PAGE CONTENTS GO HERE.

</td>
</tr>
</table>
</BODY>
</HTML>

Last updated: 12/16/03