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Chapter 1. Introduction

Table of Contents
The need
The design

Welcome. This text is the user manual for the program Wsmake, a website pre-processor. The basic function of this tool is to process a set of files (e.g. webpages), from a "source" location into an "output" location. Along the way, various types of modifications are done to achieve a desired result.

The need

Implementation advantages

Separation of common and unique content

The structure of a webpage has both common and unique content. Common content is information that is the same from page to page. Unique content is information that is associated with a single page.

A benefit of separating common from unique content is the ability to change the common content of the structure without interfering with the unique content. The ideal way to manage the common content is to have a single source for each common content part and, by some mechanism other than manual effort, replicate the common content throughout the site. The ability to re-use the common structure has potential to lower maintenance time and reduce errors.

An example of common content is the header and footer information for a web page. The header and footer could contain navigation control, ads, or contact information. An example of unique content could be news items, a company memo, or a price list.

Wsmake is a tool which provides the framework for you to define common, re-usable structures, which are then used, along with the unique content, to generate the pages for your website.

Resource usage improvements

Less system resource consumption

There are several ways for webpage structure to be created dynamically when a client makes a request. Webserver directives, modules, CGI scripts, and embedded languages are example implementation possibilities. However, the common attribute for these is that the page being sent to the user is often created dynamically at the time of the request. Wsmake is different because it works externaly to the webserver's response to requests. It creates the webpage only when changes are made to it, not when the client makes the request. The created webpage is a static entity which is served directly, with no need to create the webpage structure on the fly. This can potentially save computing resources.

Time-saving in website maintenance

For the same reasons that Wsmake can yield lower system resource consumption, there can be a time savings associated with manual labor by:

  • Eliminating the need for common content generation code in CGI and embedded scripts.

  • Making a change in only one place in order to update an item of common content.

When dynamic page creation on the server is not available, it is possible to save hours of tedious work with Wsmake. For instance, consider a situation where there is a company name change which affects every webpage on a website. If the site has many pages, the most efficient way to make the change is to change one occurrence of the name and let Wsmake do the rest.