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Building this Site

Building this Website with XML and XSL
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Overview:  I took on the task of rewriting both my personal and my work/business web site in late January, 2004. The site you are browsing is the outcome of that project. This document is written for people with some programming knowledge who have some experience with the tools and technologies used to "build" web sites. While not too technical, it also avoids explaining things that working programmers would be likely to know anyway. I assume some familiarity with XML, XSL, the concept of "building" a project, etc.  (March 1, 2004)
On Technology Used for this Web Site

I had several goals in mind in building new sites. The most obvious goals, of course, were to update the content of the main site, and to split off my work-related information to a separate site, and to improve the look of the site. But I had some other goals as well.

  • Use XHTML
  • Use CSS
  • Use XML for Content
  • Use XSL to prepare (X)HTML
  • Create a separate version of the site in basic HTML for older browsers

To summarize: I wanted to update my site to use the latest "web standards" from the W3C, an organization that develops new standards for Internet-based computing. I also wanted to pull the content (writing) out of HTML, so that first, I could have different versions of the site (for newer and older browsers), and second, so that I could more easily maintain different sections of the site, and add new content, without having to muck around with HTML.

The rest of this topic talks about what I accomplished, and how, and the problems I faced in getting it all to work.

Was the effort worth it? Not sure yet. In principle, it should save time when I need to make adjustments to the layout/presentation, and should also allow me to add new content quickly. For example, I would like to be able to scribble up a quick note when I see an interesting site or news story and drop it on the site relatively quickly. By pushing this out the XML, I don't have to search for the news.html page, find the <table> used to format the contents, copy-and-paste, etc. Time will tell if this is really useful or not. But since I had to rewrite the content anyway, it seems like a good bet with only a little extra effort.

Building this Website with XML and XSL