Server-side includes

Server-side includes

A server-side include is a file that the server incorporates into your document when a browser requests your document from the server.

When a visitor’s browser requests the document containing the include instruction, your server processes the include instruction and creates a new document in which the include instruction is replaced by the contents of the included file. The server then sends this new document to the visitor’s browser. When you open a local document directly in a browser, however, there’s no server to process the include instructions in that document, so the browser opens the document without processing those instructions, and the file that’s supposed to be included doesn’t appear in the browser. It can thus be difficult, without using Dreamweaver, to look at local files and see them as they’ll appear to visitors after you’ve put them on the server.

With Dreamweaver you can preview documents just as they’ll appear after they’re on the server, both in the Design view and when you preview in a browser.

Placing a server-side include in a document inserts a reference to an external file; it doesn’t insert the contents of the specified file in the current document. Dreamweaver displays the contents of the external file in Design view, making it easier to design pages.

You cannot edit the included file directly in a document. To edit the contents of a server-side include, you must directly edit the file that you’re including. Note that any changes to the external file are automatically reflected in every document that includes it.

There are two types of server-side includes: Virtual and File. Select the one that is appropriate for the type of web server you use:

  • If your server is an Apache web server, select Virtual. In Apache, Virtual works in all cases, while File works only in some cases.
  • If your server is a Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), select File. (Virtual works with IIS only in certain specific circumstances.)
  • For other kinds of servers, or if you don’t know what kind of server you’re using, ask your system administrator which option to use.

Some servers are configured to examine all files to see if they contain server-side includes; other servers are configured to examine only files with a particular file extension, such as .shtml, .shtm, or .inc. If a server-side include isn’t working for you, ask your system administrator if you need to use a special extension in the name of the file that uses the include. (For example, if the file is named canoe.html, you may have to rename it to canoe.shtml.) If you want your files to retain .html or .htm extensions, ask your system administrator to configure the server to examine all files (not just files with a certain extension) for server-side includes. Parsing a file for server-side includes takes a little extra time, so pages that the server parses are served a little more slowly than other pages; therefore, some system administrators won’t provide the option of parsing all files.

Related topics

  • Inserting a server-side include
  • Editing the contents of a server-side include

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