MS FrontPage

Shared Borders

Say you want all your pages to have a banner at top and a vertical menu down the left side. Pages within a site often share common elements like this. FrontPage has a feature called shared borders, designed to help you feature this kind of arrangement on many pages, in just one step.

Shared borders are just what they sound likepage border areas (top, bottom, left, or right) that a group of designated pages share (see Figure 11-12). Shared borders also can work in conjunction with link bars and page banners. If you insert a link bar within a shared border, the navigation buttons on the bar will be different for each page it's on. In other words, the link bar knows what page it's on, so (depending on the navigation scheme you selected) it links to the correct pages and not back to itself, for example.

Figure 11-12. The top banner and side menu on this page can be repeated on the site's other pages by activating shared borders.

If you do feature a link bar in a shared border, that link bar appears on every page that's using those borders. Be sure that's what you want. For example, if a page isn't in the Navigation diagram, the border displays text instructing you to add the page to the diagram. This text will appear in a viewer's browser if you don't heed the instructions, so make sure you do so.

Why Not to Use Shared Borders

Since their introduction, shared borders have tormented many FrontPage Web authors (more on the reasons why in a moment). Save yourself time and trouble by skipping this feature. You can create the same effect using included content instead.

Some of the reasons shared borders have a bad rep:

  • They often behave unpredictably. For instance, you thought you removed shared borders from all pages, but they still appear on some. Or your borders show up in FrontPage, but not in a browser. With a little effort, you can usually fix these issues (often by delving into the page's code). But since you can achieve the same effect with included content or another option, save yourself the hassle.

  • Shared borders can be edited from any page they appear on. This means that anyone opening one of your Web pages (from within FrontPage) could potentially mess up shared borders across your entire site. Yikes!

  • FrontPage manages shared borders. This means that shared border settings and controls live in the murky netherworld that the program controlsnamely the secret folders like _private that FrontPage creates and uses to help you manage your site. As a result, you'll have a tough time troubleshooting the mercurial behavior of this feature. Included content, on the other hand, is simple HTML that lives within your domainthe regular folder structure of your site.

Activating Shared Borders

FrontPage doesn't automatically enable shared borders. You've got to flick a "shared borders on" switch, if you want to use them. To activate shared borders, select Tools » Page Options and click the Authoring tab. Turn on the Shared Borders checkbox.

Applying Shared Borders

As mentioned, you're better off avoiding shared borders, but if you must use them, follow these steps:

  1. Select the pages that you want to use shared borders.

    If you want to feature borders on a limited number of pages, select them within the folder list. If you want borders on all your site's pages, don't select anything. Next, select Format » Shared Borders. The Shared Borders dialog box displays. It features a radio button, which lets you apply borders to all pages or selected page(s). Select your preference.

  2. Configure shared borders.

    The Shared Borders dialog box also features four checkboxes for each side of the page. Turn on the checkboxes for each side where you want a shared border (see Figure 11-13).

    Figure 11-13. Turn on a checkbox, and FrontPage shows you where it'll insert a shared border by adding a dotted line to the diagram at left.

    If you want to give a border a color or picture background, click Border Properties on the lower-left corner. In the dialog box that appears, select the border and the color you want or the graphic file you want to use as background.

  3. Set navigation.

    If you want a link bar to appear within any border, turn on the Include Navigation Buttons checkbox just below it. Turning this on inserts a link bar, so you'll need a navigation diagram (Creating A Site In Navigation View) in place for this to work. Without it, unsightly text appears telling you to add the page to the navigation structure. Visitors to your Web site will also see this text, so definitely go ahead and create the navigation diagram to make it disappear.

  4. Apply shared borders.

    Once you've made all your settings, click OK. Shared borders show up in Design view, set off by dotted lines. If you're adding text or pictures to the border, now's the time to do so. Make changes on any page, and they'll show up on all pages that share the borders.

  5. Check border pages.

    Preview all the pages that now feature borders. If you've included a navigation bar, make sure that no pages contain errant text instead of links.

Editing and Removing Shared Borders

If you want to change the content of shared borders, just edit one of the borders anywhere it appears. All pages that feature the border reflect your changes.

If you want to change settings that you made in the Shared Borders dialog box, or if you want to get rid of shared borders entirely, do the following: if you've applied shared borders to a specific group of pages, select them within the folder list. If you've applied shared borders to your entire site and want to edit them all, don't bother selecting any pages. Next, select Format » Shared Borders. In the dialog box that displays, let FrontPage know the scope of your changes by clicking either the "All Pages" or "Selected page(s)" radio button. Make whatever other changes you want. To remove shared borders, just turn off all the border checkboxes.

To change shared border settings within one page, open it, and then select Format » Shared Borders. Click Current Page in the dialog box and select the settings you want. Use this method to remove shared borders from individual pages. Just turn off all border checkboxes, and the page loses them.