Note:

The user interface has been simplified in Dreamweaver CC and later. As a result, you may not find some of the options described in this article in Dreamweaver CC and later. For more information, see this article.

About server-side includes

You can use Dreamweaver to insert server-side includes in your pages, edit the includes, or preview pages containing includes.

A server-side include is a file that the server incorporates into your document when a browser requests your document from the server.

When a visitor’s browser requests the document that contains the include instruction, your server processes the include instruction and creates a new document in which the include instruction is replaced by the contents of the included file. The server then sends this new document to the visitor’s browser. When you open a local document directly in a browser, however, there’s no server to process the include instructions in that document, so the browser opens the document without processing those instructions, and the file that’s supposed to be included doesn’t appear in the browser. Thus, it can be difficult, without using Dreamweaver, to look at local files and see them as they’ll appear to visitors after you’ve put them on the server.

With Dreamweaver you can preview documents just as they’ll appear after they’re on the server, both in the Design view and when you use the Preview in Browser feature. To do so, however, you must make sure you are previewing the file that contains the include as a temporary file. (Select Edit > Preferences, select the Preview in Browser category, and make sure the Preview using temporary file option is selected.)

Note:

If you are using a testing server, such as Apache or Microsoft IIS, to preview your files on your local drive, you do not need to preview the file as a temporary file because the server does the processing for you.

Placing a server-side include in a document inserts a reference to an external file; it doesn’t insert the contents of the specified file in the current document. The contents of the specified file should only contain the content that you want to include. That is, the include file should not contain any head tags, body tags, or html tags (meaning the <html> tag—formatting HTML tags, such as p tags, div tags, and so on, are fine). If it does, these tags will conflict with the tags in the original document, and Dreamweaver won’t display the page properly.

You cannot edit the included file directly in a document. To edit the contents of a server-side include, you must directly edit the file that you’re including. Any changes to the external file are automatically reflected in every document that includes it.

There are two types of server-side includes: Virtual and File. Dreamweaver inserts File type includes by default, but you can use the Property inspector to select the one that is appropriate for the type of web server you use:

  • If your server is an Apache web server, select Virtual. In Apache, Virtual works in all cases, while File works only in some cases.
  • If your server is a Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), select File. (Virtual works with IIS only in certain circumstances.)

Note:

Unfortunately, IIS won’t let you include a file in a folder above the current folder in the folder hierarchy, unless special software has been installed on the server. If you must include a file from a folder higher in the folder hierarchy on an IIS server, ask your system administrator if the necessary software is installed.

  • For other kinds of servers, or if you don’t know what kind of server you’re using, ask your system administrator which option to use.

    Some servers are configured to examine all files to see if they contain server-side includes; other servers are configured to examine only files with a particular file extension, such as .shtml, .shtm, or .inc. If a server-side include isn’t working for you, ask your system administrator if you need to use a special extension in the name of the file that uses the include. (For example, if the file is named canoe.html, you may have to rename it to canoe.shtml.) If you want your files to retain .html or .htm extensions, ask your system administrator to configure the server to examine all files (not just files with a certain extension) for server-side includes. Parsing a file for server-side includes takes a little extra time, so pages that the server parses are served a little more slowly than other pages; therefore, some system administrators won’t provide the option of parsing all files.

Insert server-side includes

You can use Dreamweaver to insert server-side includes in your page.

Insert a server-side include

  1. Select Insert > Server-Side Include.
  2. In the dialog box that appears, browse to and select a file.

    By default, a File type of include is inserted.

  3. To change the type of the include, select the server-side include in the Document window and change the type in the Property inspector (Window > Properties), as follows:
    • If your server is an Apache web server, select Virtual. In Apache, Virtual works in all cases, while File works only in some cases.
    • If your server is a Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS), select File. (Virtual works with IIS only in certain specific circumstances.)

    Note:

    Unfortunately, IIS won’t allow you to include a file in a folder above the current folder in the folder hierarchy, unless special software has been installed on the server. If you need to include a file from a folder higher in the folder hierarchy on an IIS server, ask your system administrator if the necessary software is installed.

    • For other kinds of servers, or if you don’t know what kind of server you’re using, ask your system administrator which option to use.

Change which file is included

  1. Select the server-side include in the Document window.
  2. Open the Property inspector (Window > Properties).
  3. Do one of the following:
    • Click the folder icon and browse to and select a new file to include.

    • In the box, type the path and filename of the new file to include.

Edit the contents of server-side includes

You can use Dreamweaver to edit server-side includes. To edit the content associated with the included file, you must open the file.

  1. Select the server-side include in either Design view or Code view, and click Edit in the Property inspector.

    The included file opens in a new Document window.

  2. Edit the file, and then save it.

    The changes are immediately reflected in the current document and in any subsequent document you open that includes the file.

  3. Upload the include file to the remote site if necessary.

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