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Help needed with working around the limitations of Site Sculptor

Thread began 10/22/2010 4:07 am by Lon Winters | Last modified 10/30/2010 10:49 pm by Lon Winters | 1057 views | 7 replies |

Lon WintersBeta Tester

Help needed with working around the limitations of Site Sculptor

First of all, when I say "limitations", I don't mean that in a derogatory sense, just as an observation as it is what it is. Having created a couple sites with Site Assist Pro, this is my first one with SS and the CMS. Just to get familiar with the features, I published a basic version of my site and the CMS set-up was without problems and the editing tools are just awesome. But now that it's time to build the real site I'm finding myself tripping over a few things and welcome any suggestions by my fellow developers as well as the support team. These issues I'm sure are not unique and perhaps will be addressed in a future release or chapter two of a Getting Started guide. This is my workflow, and I'll point out the places I find a little confusing.

Starting with CSS Sculptor and CSS Menu Writer
I built a home page and a content page starting from a pre-set layout and modifying to my needs. I created the menus for each page with Menu Writer and inserted them into the div containers where they belonged into the CSS Sculptor generated pages. I saved two copies of each page - one with the menus and one without. I will only need one version of each, but I'm set depending on which direction I take from this point.

Saving as Templates
Deciding to follow the WA guidelines in creating a Site Sculptor design, I'm going to use template files in lieu of CSS Sculptor presets, so I saved the homepage and the content page as templates. The versions that I saved as template files did not contain any CSS Menu Writer menus. (This particular piece of information does not present itself until later when you're in the Site Sculptor dialog creating a new site design and are attempting to select a template with a Menu Writer menu. But it doesn't halt your progress, and I didn't carry it out to see what would happen) Should template files be saved as *.dwt or *.dwt.php?

Adding Editable Regions
Now, one challenge is presented in that both the homepage and the content page are to contain three menus - a top nav bar, a secondary nav bar and the footer. There is no practical reason to have any of these regions editable, but apparently they need to be in order for Site Sculptor to work. Is that correct?

Best way to configure Site Sculptor
So now I have my templates set up, with all three menu divs as well as various content divs editable, I launch the SS Preset manager and add a new design. Given that I will have three menus and the options allow me to insert one menu region, one content region and the footer - same for both the homepage and content page, what is the best way to configure this?

I would like all pages to be included in the CMS including the homepage. After the site is generated, I can go into the new content page template to add additional menus and make any other modifications to the layout. But there doesn't appear to be a way to do this for the homepage! SS doesn't generate a homepage template and the index page layout can't be edited in Dreamweaver. So, what is the workaround for this? Is there a way to make the content visible on the index.php page to add the other menus or make other layout modifications? Or can this be done using the online CMS itself? Is there a way to manually implement CMS capability to the original homepage? The only other option I see is to not include the homepage in the CMS.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was some simple setting that I'm missing and I've written a bunch of stuff for nothing, but thanks for reading!

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Jason ByrnesWebAssist

I would save the template as a dynamic template using the extension .dwt.php

Only the main navigation will be added automatically. The menu editable region will be converted from a neditable region and the CSSMenu Writer menu will be added in its place.

The other editable regions on the page will have records created in the content management database.

You will need to edit the CMS content for the secondary and footer menus.

You are correct that a template is not created for the Index page. but you should be able to edit the layout, can you give a little more detail on the issue you are having with editing the index page layout?

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Lon WintersBeta Tester

Thanks Jason for the response -

My homepage layout contains nested divs in the content wrapper - for main content and left sidebar, When editing the site design preset, I select the content wrapper div as one of the three regions allowed, along with the main navigation and footer. I also choose to include the homepage in the CMS.

So, in the page that gets generated by Site Sculptor, those nested content divs are actually stripped from the code and replaced by the dynamic include. This means that editing an of the styles or properties of these tags introduces another layer of complexity into the process. And, the style sheet, screen.css is not the same one as the one made by CSS Sculptor.

I use mostly the Rule Definition dialog box to edit CSS (not the CSS panel or css page itself) where I can just hit "Apply" and see the change immediately. So I guess it boils down to that - I would like the same thing but in this new CMS environment. Here are a few options I can see -

1. Make sure all the layout elements are solid from the start - either in CSS Sculptor or before I save the page as a template

2. Just leave the homepage out of the CMS

3. Use Live view to see the content, but I'm not quote sure how I could preview the changes without uploading the screen.css file.

4. Finally break down and set up a local testing server where the local files and testing server files are the same.

5. Take my original CSS Sculptor page and attach it to the new screen.css file and just use that page for the purpose of editing and preview only.

I know there's no right or wrong way to do this - I'm just looking for insight on what is the most efficient process.

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Jason ByrnesWebAssist

  I'm just looking for insight on what is the most efficient process.  

As far as efficiency goes, a local testing server tops the list.

Yes, the screen CSS file for site Sculptor will be a little different than the one created by CSS Sculptor.

Your layout should be solid before you start creating the site from it, of course you will always want to make minor tweaks to it. Thats where the local testing server comes into play.

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Lon WintersBeta Tester

Looks like I'll be installing a local sever this weekend!

I am getting more comfortable with these tools. I've said ti before, I don't know where I'd be without them, plus they make web development fun again. Thanks for all your help.

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Jason ByrnesWebAssist

you're welcome.

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Neil Beadle

Hey Lon,

I strongly suggest you use XAMPP for your testing server. It shouldn't take you more than 10 minutes to get functioning as needed.

We have a tutorial and video to show you the process xampp_for_windows.php.

Best of luck!


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Lon WintersBeta Tester

wow, you read my mind. I was going to ask for the very thing, but didn't want to appear too greedy. Or too helpless. : ) Thanks much, as always.

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