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How do I build dynamic websites with PHP and templates?

Feb 29th, 2000 12:14
Matt Gregory, Jeff Wilcox, Dave Cross, Nathan Wallace, unknown unknown,

Quick and Easy Approach
The best way I have found of creating templates is to go ahead and 
design your template in regular html.  Then place the templates in a 
common header file included in all your scripts.  I usually use 
commonHeader and commonFooter functions to fill in the templates on 
each page.  This model can be expanded to include any extra 
functionality that you might need, including class-based page layout 
and image-arrays for the links etc. etc.
Advanced, Extensible Model
When creating a truly dynamic, extensible website, you may find that 
pages including and running basic header/footer functions is not 
advanced enough.  
A large project which would pay off once your site begins to grow would 
be to create a set of classes to manage your entire web site and its' 
organization.  Your classes for your website would manage the 
properties of your pages, how they should be displayed, what types of 
content they should include, how they should be organized, etc.  
Using some of the methods found in previous PHPBuilder Articles 
(http://www.phpbuilder.com/), you could create an application processor 
for your website.  
For example, a basic script called App could be in charge of loading 
most of the pages on your site, displaying them according to their 
properties, and including content from multiple sources.  Using the 
$REQUEST_URI Apache value, you could parse the URL the page is at.  
   The Application loader (App) parses the REQUEST_URI, determines that 
the browser is trying to access an application called Home, and loads 
the 'Home' mini-application's PHP object and involks it.  
   This time, the object Companies is informed that a sub-application, 
ABC, has been called.  Then it's up to the Companies object to either 
display the data regarding ABC, query a database, or load the correct 
I am working on a detailed reference for creating extensive dynamic 
sites with PHP, and hopefully that reference, when completed, will be 
easier to understand.  I welcome any email questions you may have 
regarding this.
When using the class based method which depends on the REQUEST_URI your 
site may not be portable to other web server platforms.
Also beware class-based website creation for parse-time costs.  The 
bigger your application for serving your pages the bigger the box 
required to serve it in a decent amount of time.  
I have found that having your template removed from your page-
generation scripts allows you to have a little more efficient code 
reuse and signifigantly faster parse times (since you only have to 
parse the generator script specific to the page you are calling).