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CCS: Templates

Our CCS application allows administrators to create page templates to facilitate easy addition of similar pages throughout the site. Most pages throughout a site follow the same general structure with only the main page content changing from page to page. You can utilize the page templates functionality of CCS to make adding pages in this scenario much easier.

Page templates utilize the full power of IP.Board's skin system which means you can use any template conditionals and template plugins in page templates to make them more dynamic. Page templates also support categorization so you can group common page templates together or organize page templates into functional groupings (for example: put all templates that are included into other templates into one grouping).

CCS allows you to optionally output content within the IPB wrapper or to output content directly. If you opt to do the latter: you will want to be sure to output appropriate HTML structures to define the page (for instance, head and body HTML tags). Page templates can help you streamline this repetitive task.

Using page templates

Walking you through an example session, you might visit the page templates screen and first create a category "Includes" to put all template includes into. Then, you might create a "header" page template and a "footer" page template that all pages will share, and afterwards drag-n-drop these templates into your "Includes" category. Next, you could create templates for the main area of the page - you might, for example, create a single column page template and a multi-column page template. Within these page templates you would include your header and footer templates and optionally specify where page content should be placed.

The benefit in separating the include templates from the main page templates is that you can later update the one header template and it will apply to all of the page templates including it (and subsequently, all pages using one of these page templates). To include a template within another template, you simply use the skin template tag like so (using a template key example of "header_template"):

{parse template="header_template" group="ccs" params=""}

You can even include skin templates within your page templates, just like you would within forum skin files.

Using page templates with pages

With your page templates created you would add a new page using the page manager. On the first page of the wizard, select to use one of your page templates (such as your single column page template). You then have the capability to edit the entire page, or only the page content - this option allows you to either "import" the page template and edit the entire page area (if you select no), or edit only the content that should be placed within your page template appropriately (if you select yes).

If you edit only the page content (the preferred method in most cases) any future changes to the page template will automatically be inherited by the page; otherwise, you would need to update the pages individually. This allows you to decide if you want a system where changes to templates are inherited by pages automatically, or if you want to instead use page templates as a starting point but ensure each page is edited and updated independent of every other page. If you elect to edit the content of the page only, when your page is saved the page content is placed within the page template where you specified when editing the template, the page is compiled and pieced together, and the page is then ready to be displayed.

Page templates are an extremely simple yet extremely useful feature designed to help facilitate quick production and deployment of pages on your site. You don't even have to make use of page templates if you want, but we believe once you start using them you will see just how much time it will save you in the long run.

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