Static to Dynamic
I am a nb and have not published a website.
I am working to create a website which will have pages about my city along with another section providing a business directory. Not knowing much when I started I began using an html template and edited it by putting my contents into it. I now have many pages. At the time, I did not know anything different. Now, with the site getting large I would like a way to have a CMS so that pages can be created dynamically rather than changing one by one for hundreds. How can I do this?
if you need more details, just ask. :)
There's no easy way. You'll just need to start over but borrow elements from what you have:
1. Create a template from any of your pages (assuming they look similar).
2. Extract the content from every page (text, images, etc.).
Then use the CMS (or a custom solution with PHP for example) to generate all of the pages automatically from the stored content, perhaps in a database or by cutting and pasting directly into your CMS or whatever.
Additionally, remember that you can skip any logical information that can be recreated, such as the time of the day or anything that you can look up in a database, etc. Then the system can automatically add that information back into the page without you needing to type it out each time. That's one big advantage to an automated system, in addition to not having to edit the HTML of each page by hand.
If you haven't published it, then that makes it a little easier, no need to worry about your site being down for a while.
However, also realize that a CMS (or other serverside option) will require a language like PHP and perhaps a database too, something that can only work on a server. So you can do this directly on your hosting account, but not on your computer locally. The other option is to install server software onto your computer and use it as a (development) server. Look into LAMP (for linux), WAMP (windows) or MAMP (mac), which comes with Apache-Mysql-PHP (hence the name).
There are a few options. One of the simplest ways is to use ASP.NET and set up Master Pages. Then, each new page you create will be derived from this master page. An arbitary version of this can be achieved in PHP using includes, but that does mean still starting each page as a blank file and working up from scratch each time.
CMS options are available in all languages. The best PHP CMS I've used is Joomla and the best ASP.NET CMS I've used is Umbraco.
Your best bet is do some research into the different languages and the different options available to you. Joomla is easy to learn, but a great number of the best templates and extensions are proprietary.
An alternative to using WAMP is IIS. You can install this from the Windows Control Panel and install an Umbraco or Joomla site directly from the IIS GUI.
Thank you for the replies!
What do you mean by "Extract the content"? Do you mean that I would just insert that into my new pages?
I do have a localhost XAMMP installed on my windows machine.
Would WordPress be a good solution for me?
"Extract the content": nothing technical. Just go through all of the pages manually and move the information to a new location-- cut, paste, repeat.
WordPress is one of many options. Depending on the type of pages you have and what you want to do with it, it's probably fine. WordPress isn't the most advanced in terms of automating content, but it will work well for automating the layout from a template. If you don't need to automate content (if you can type the content of each page manually), this is fine, and it's quite popular. That helps because there are free resources available like templates, etc.
If you're using XAMMP instead of IIS to host, by default you want be able to run ASP.NET websites. You can run ASP.NET websites on XAMMP however, if you install the Mod_Mono module to your Apache server.
There is one final option available, if you're looking for a commercial site. SquareSpace is a cloud-based CMS solution. It's very user friendly (almost all point and click style) and easy to manage. Get a 14 day free trial and use code HAK5 for 10% off the lifetime of your service if you wish to join them.
If you wish to host your own CMS, I can highly recommend Joomla for PHP and although I haven't really used Umbraco that much, it is very customisable and offers a huge range of benefits. The biggest of which is that it's "templates" are based on ASP.NET Master Pages and therefore you are not restricted to a stock layout like a lot of the CMSs.