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How to Update Your Web Site Using Server Side Includes (SSI)
Copyright 2002 Herman Drost 

Recently a person asked me if I could replace 125 web pages of
her web site with a new drop-down navigation system. If she had
to do this manually, she would have to change each page and
upload it separately to the server. This would take hundreds of
hours. So, what’s the answer – use Server Side Includes (SSI) 

What is Server Side Includes (SSI)? 
This is where you can insert one line of simple code to update
any web page . This line of code “includes” any file
(i.e. navigation bar, header, footer) you wish to insert in each 
or all of your web pages. Changing this one “include” file and
uploading it to your server enables you to update your entire
web site without even touching your web pages. It can now be
a breeze to update page content such as headers, footers,
navigation bars and changing products. 

Here are the steps to take: 

1. Check that your web hosting plan supports Server Side
(SSI)-most do.

2. Create an “includes” folder in your web site files.

3. Create the “includes” file containing your navigation bar,
header, footer
(or whatever file you wish to update on your
site). It could be a text or html document. If it is an html file,
then only copy what is between the body tags. Remove any
html header, footer and body tags from your file.
Name this file nav.htm. 

4. Place this file in your includes folder.
I also included my menu.css file (cascading style sheet) and
virtualmenu.js (javascript) file in the includes folder so the file 
paths are clear. These are inserted between the header tags.

5. Place the following code on the particular web page 
where you want your navigation bar to appear. 

<!--#include virtual="/includes/nav.htm" --> 

I also made sure my menu.css and virtual.js files had the same
file paths and placed the code for these files in the header
tags of my web page (blank.shtml) 

<SCRIPT language=JavaScript1.2 src="/includes/virtualmenu.js">

<LINK REL=STYLESHEET TYPE="text/css" HREF="includes/menu.css"> 

You could create a line of SSI code for these files also. I left
them as they are, because the .js and .css files are already
included in the header tags of the /blank.shml page. 

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6. Change the extension name (maybe it was .htm) of this web
page that contains your line of code, to .shtml (in my example
it’s blank.shtml). 

7. Upload your includes folder and your web page (blank.shtml)
to your server. 

8. Refresh (right click your mouse and look for refresh) your
web page to reflect your new navigation bar. 

Here’s the finished page with the new drop-down navigation bar. 

Now, if you wish to change the appearance of your navigation bar
throughout your web site, you just need to edit one file 
(nav.htm file), then upload it to your server. Your changes should
appear immediately on every page of your web site where you 
included the SSI code. 
Congratulations! You have just saved yourself hundreds
of hours of time updating your web site.

Other resources for Server Side Includes (SSI)

Using Server Side Includes in Dreamweaver 

It is very easy to use Server Side Includes in Dreamweaver. 
Once you have made your Include file, all you need to do is 
click on insert > Server Side Includes, choose the file you 
need, make sure the path is relative to the Site Root and
insert it.

Using Frontpage Includes Component
Herman Drost is a Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW)
owner and author of 
Affordable Web Site Redesign and Hosting 

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