To explain, to those interested, the underlying design philosophy for these help pages.
The original, self imposed, design objectives were (and still are):
- Page content should be maintainable
by any Weather Display forum user who had useful material to add.
- No assumptions should be made about the user's computer platform
or the web tools available thereon.
(After all, these pages are for weather enthusiasts,
not professional web page designers.)
- Pages should appear on the users browser quickly,
with 28 kb or better modems,
so that the disadvantage of not having local help pages is minimized.
(It is assumed that wide band internet connections are NOT available.)
- The page source
should be readable with the simplest of editors
on any computer platform.
- A minimum of HTML tags should be used,
consistent with a clean presentable appearance.
(Human readability is more important than using
the most eye-catching features.)
- Page appearance should be consistent from page to page.
(But links to external web sites, where appropriate, are encouraged.)
So what did I do?
The above requirements, plus some recent exposure to Eric Meyers' books on CSS
led me to the current design.
A single Style Sheet,
(which you can see at this site as "/css/wd.css")
is used to provide all the fonts, colors, positioning, etc..
This eliminates an enormous amount of clutter,
and makes the content very easy to see in any editor.
While there are a number of tags in the style sheet
to deal with the bare page,
there are only a very few needed for the content portion;
primarily <p>, <ul>, and <h5>.
The common page header stuff is provided
through a pair of "server-side include" (SSI) files
(which you can see at this site as
These files are added to the main page by the web server
whenever a user clicks on a link to view it.
This insures that only a single page header exists for all pages
and that any changes to it will be seen
on all new page requests immediately after they are made.
Use of SSI requires that the files have a "shtml" type
rather than the more usual "HTML".
Adding a new page to the wdhelp site
- Create a new file with a type of "shtml"
and whatever name is appropriate to the content.
Copy following header block and paste it to the beginning of the file.
Replace the XXXXXXXXX with an appropriate title.
<!--#include virtual="ssi-topOfPage.shtml" -->
<title>WD Help: XXXXXXXXX</title>
<table id="header" cellspacing="0">
<!--#include virtual="ssi-header.shtml" -->
<td id="sub-title" colspan="2">XXXXXXXXX</td>
Copy the following purpose block, and paste it below the block above.
Replace the XXXXXXXXX with an appropriate statement
<p class="purpose">Purpose:<br />
This is where you put your material.
You may use any html tags you wish in this area,
but for uniformity I recommend those listed in the "/css/wd.css".
Copy the following footer block, and paste it below the block above.
Replace the "John Doe" email address and name with your own.
<!--#echo var="LAST_MODIFIED" -->
<a href="mailto:johnDoe@someSite.com">John Doe</a>
Send the completed page to Brian
or ask Brian for direct access to the site.