Re: Alternates to Frames

by "Ted Temer" <temer(at)>

 Date:  Thu, 5 Apr 2001 12:17:11 -0700
 To:  "HWGBASICS" <hwg-basics(at)>
  todo: View Thread, Original

Most "modern" browsers will display frames just fine.

HOWEVER--If your site caters to--or has information sought by--visually
impaired, then they may be using a text reader.  If so, this device may
become lost trying to read frames. This is just one example--there are other
problems connected with frames, not the least of which is spidering by
search engines and persons trying to save a "frame" to the Favorites in
their browser.

Alternatives are Tables and/or Include Files. Even so, there are problems
here as well. It does not take much to set off Bobby alarms over tables.
Example: Nested tables. I use a lot of tables and often my pages pass Bobby
validation for everything EXCEPT the tables. (I do love to nest them??)

However, one of the simplest ways to handle links is to use a multi column
table with an Include file containing the links, placed in the left column.
As your site grows, you simply edit the include file and it automatically
changes on all pages.

Remember too, that this include file may contain anything from simple text
to a mixture of text and graphics. And--Though I have never found a reason
for it, you can even place an Include file within an Include file.

The only catch is that "some" ISP's still living in the world of "old wives
tales" may insist that you rename pages containing an include file to
"whatever.shtml" (if on an Apache server) or "whatever.stm" (if on a NT

Back in the days of servers running at clock speeds of 10 or some such,
there were concerns about easing the load of the server by not requiring it
to parse every page for include files. These days, unless your server is
getting thousands of simultaneous "hits", the worry is rather meaningless.
Still the idea persists.

Generally, an include file is "called" thusly:
<!--#include virtual="filename.txt"-->

Note that the .txt can be anything: .txt. .htm .html .inc .jpg .gif etc.
etc. Any file containing anything the browser is capable of supporting.
Also: For the page to work, the include file must be in the same directory
as the page. (Or you must include the "path" just as with a graphic.)

Be careful of "including" a file from an outside source. Sometimes this can
lead to some rather long page rendering times while waiting for a file to
come from some server in a distant city. Many of those little "goodies" we
all use, such as news tickers, joke features, etc. are really examples of
remote include files.

Final Note: A server must also be present to do the including. Therefore,
your page may not work on your computer. You have to upload it to the web
server before it will work.

Tables in general, are much easier to understand and of course most WYSIWYG
editors create tables simply and quickly, (and one might add, with far fewer
mistakes than the "average" hand coder--of course the expert never goofs ).
You can set a border size to help you "see" the tables and/or separate the
page elements.

Is using tables for page layout bad?? Gosh I hope not. I would never dream
of designing a "print" page in Canvas, Quark Express, etc. without using
their ability to place elements of text and or images. In those programs,
they are called frames, blocks and some such but they are the equivalent of
the web page table.

Remember--Even if you did use Frames, you still may be using tables within
those frames. How else would one control where the page elements are
placed?? The only alternative to Tables is CSS and at this point in time the
Absolute Positioning aspect of CSS is VERY spotty at best. And then, only in
the latest browsers.

And of course, even for us "Trig" majors, CSS Positioning can be a bit of a
pain. And we though Image Maps were tough?? Co-ordinates are SO "boring"??
(Big Grin??)

Best wishes
Ted Temer
Temercraft Designs Redding, CA

> I am working on my first website and I have a question about page layout.
> Are frames really as bad as indicated in everything I have read so far.
> What I have read so far says either don't use them, or be very careful
> because not all browsers can handle frames. I am also concerned about
> visitors getting "stuck" in my frames.  I personally don't care for frames
> much, but I do like being able to have a strip on the left side of the
> screen which contains navigational bits, and the rest of the screen
> the current content.  Are there alternative ways to do this, besides
> Ed

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