Help for Church Webmasters

Issue 27                                    01/12/04

IFRAMES
 

I know it’s been awhile since I sent out a newsletter. I took the holidays off. J I hope you had a great holiday season, I know I did.

Last newsletter I hinted about IFRAMES being useful on your site. I would like to explore that topic a bit more in this newsletter. But before we do that, I wanted to share a resource with you that I recently stumbled across. I believe that I have referenced Site Pro News before, but the site has been completely revamped since then. It is worth the time to browse through this site. Here’s is one of the many sub-site on the Site Pro News website that is pretty useful - http://www.sitepronews.com/wapps.html. This page (or sub-site) has a pretty good list of tools, hints and tips, applications and more that would be useful during website development. Some of the tools have a broader appeal as well. Enjoy.

IFRAMES

What is an IFRAME? It is kind of like a window in a window. Sometimes that smaller, inner window is called an “inset box.” For example, if you had a webpage that had scroll bars displayed, you could also have a smaller window on that webpage with optional scroll bars displayed.

Why would you want to do this? Actually there are number of times when this can be useful. Here are some examples:
On your main page you might use an IFRAME to display more information about an up coming event. Somewhere close to where your list of up coming events are, you would have a scrolled window with more information. This has the advantage of allowing more data to be displayed, without making your main page bigger.
On your main page you might use an IFRAME to display your up coming events. I have a scroller on my main church page to display up coming events. However, most users don’t realize they can use their mouse to stop the scroller or move it up and down. Maybe an IFRAME would be a better choice. It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us know what to do when we see scroll bars.
You might have a page of text or an article on a particular topic and an IFRAME could be used like a sidebar in magazine or newsletter. It’s a way to provide some related info without interrupting the flow of the article.
You could be even more creative. Maybe you could have a page with 4 or 6 pics and a detailed description of each picture could be contained in an IFRAME under the pic. That way the person browsing your site can determine for themselves if they desire more info on a given picture.
You could even use IFRAMES to make your site look like a regular framed site without using regular frames and without the search engine issues a regular framed site can have.

The options are just about endless.

Now here’s the best part, IFRAMES are EASY and every website can use them. That’s right. IFRAMES require no special server or a special anything else. They are part of the basic HTML. Bonus!

The most basic IFRAME HTML will look like this

<iframe
src ="/yourdir/yourfile.txt ">
</iframe>

How simple is that? You could link to an html file, an asp file or a text file. Basically any file type that will display inside of your browser (yup, you could put a pic there too – although that exercise will be left to reader). You could link to a file on another website, simply specify the entire path (www.otherdomain.com/dir/file.html). Just be careful with copyright issues. You can link to files in other directories in your website as well.

There are about half a dozen or so people in the world who are still using Internet Explorer version Ancient or Netscape B.C.. If you want to have them to be able to use your site you can simply do something like this.

<iframe
src ="/yourdir/yourfile.html ">
<A HREF="/yourdir/yourfile.html">Read more here</A>
</iframe>

The older browsers that don’t support IFRAME simply do nothing when they encounter an IFRAME – so the browser just displays the link. Now the user can click to get more info. Browsers that do support IFRAMES are smart enough to display the IFRAME and ignore the link. Pretty sweet. TIP: Try putting the link inside a table and see what happens. You can make the version that doesn’t support IFRAMES look pretty close to the way the version that does support IFRAMES looks.

There are some parameters you can give to IFRAME, like how big to make the frame, alignment, auto scrollbars and a few others. Here’s a pretty good description on the details of an IFRAME - http://www.faqs.org/docs/htmltut/frames/_IFRAME.html. Here’s another description - http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_iframe.asp. Be sure to use the TRY-IT-YOURSELF DEMO - http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_iframe.

Here’s another benefit of using IFRAMES. You can edit your webpage by simply uploading a new version of the file that the IFRAME includes. For example, if you are using an IFRAME to display your list of upcoming events, you could simply update the file with the upcoming events and upload it to your server and presto – new info on your webpage. No HTML editing required. You could probably teach the church secretary how to do that and then you wouldn’t have to worry about putting the bulletin announcements on the webpage every week. Yea, that’s what I am talking about.

As you can see, IFRAMES are useful. Think about how you can use them to improve your site.
 

 
See ya,
 
Bill
 
 
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It would be way cool if you could mention this resource somewhere on your web page! You can link to “Help for Church Webmasters” at http://www.downeychurch.com/HelpForChurchWebmasters.html