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Web Authoring: HTML Inline File Inclusion Into "skeleton" HTML pages?

From: Ulf C Brandes <ulf_brandes@hotmail.com>
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2000 19:04:37 -0400 (EDT)
Message-ID: <20000713230359.23891.qmail@hotmail.com>
To: <www-html@w3.org>
Cc: "Ulf Brandes" <brandes.u@pg.com>
A discussion about multi-source web article authoring:  How would one include HTML text snippets into a "skeleton" HTML layout page in a way that the browser simply reads the HTML snippet *inline* into the code and composes it with the rest of the page, just like the browser is doing it for any <img src="picture.gif">?

I've seen interesting discussions on this forum around a proposed new <include src="text.html"> tag for HTML.  The discussions seemed to focus, though, on inclusion of *recurrent* code e.g. for navigation bars, or address footers.  For these purposes I agree that DHTML or <OBJECT>s may be the better solution. 

However, how would one set up a web page that allows less-HTML savvy people to contribute short articles, without exposing them to the risk of potentially messing up all the page layout because they e.g. accidentally delete a critical layout tag elsewhere?

I am looking for a solution like <include src="article.html"> where the webmaster sets up a skeleton HTML page with such <include> statements, while the browser would request such HTML snippets from the server like any .gif file, and interpret the result as if the included HTML code had been resident in the original document.  The "skeleton" page would provide the layout and framework, other people could submit their articles in HTML, and all the webmaster has to do is put the right <include> tags into the skeleton HTML.  People could even update the file later without anyone needing to "recompile" the skeleton as with some HTML editors' macro capabilities.

IMHO, for the purpose of article inclusion, an "inline include" tag would definitely add value.

Coming from a TeX background I'd be surprised if such an essential aide to multi-source text authoring did not exist in HTML.  Imagine a PhD thesis in HTML without the possibility to include subtext files, and the problem becomes obvious.

Of course, anchor tags would be an option, but only if the subdocuments are large enough to justify a whole empty page being opened.  For authoring and layouting the presentation of *short* articles, anchor tags are a questionable solution.

Alternatively, <OBJECT>s would do, but they require the size of the article to be known upfront.  Otherwise, cluttering the page with scrollbar'ed subwindows does not render a satisfactory page layout.  Is there a better answer?  Would it e.g. be possible to include HTML inline via a Java applet?  Are we overlooking a basic feature?

Ulf Brandes
Received on Friday, 14 July 2000 01:27:28 GMT

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