Hack to Extend the Website content

In this article you'll find some useful web-mastering tips and tricks. You can use this technique to make own web-site template engine or to extend the website functionality without ruining the old code as it was discussed in the previous article.

Define the new content as a variable. The previous and the next decorators could be dynamic arrays:

$sidebar_before[] = '<h2>Sidebar</h2>';
$sidebar_before[] = 'print_adsense';
$sidebar = <<<END
<p>
Some aside content here...
</p>
END;
$sidebar_after[] = 'block-links.inc';
$sidebar_after[] = '<h3>Advertisement<h3>';
$sidebar_after[] = 'print_adsense';

To call custom functions, include files or just print some html code before and after the main content, the PHP code in your website template should be something like this:

if (isset($sidebar_visible) && $sidebar_visible) {

	echo "\t\t\t<!-- Sidebar -->\n";
	echo "\t\t\t<div id=\"sidebar\" class="$css_class">\n\n";
	
	// Print content before the Sidebar
	if (isset($sidebar_before))
		foreach ($sidebar_before as $s) {
			if (function_exists($s)) call_user_func($s); 
			elseif (is_file($s)) include($s);
			else echo $s;
			echo "\n\n";
		}	

	// Print the Sidebar
	if (isset($sidebar)) echo $sidebar."\n\n";
	
	// Print content after the Sidebar
	if (isset($sidebar_after))
		foreach ($sidebar_after as $s) {
			if (function_exists($s)) call_user_func($s); 
			elseif (is_file($s)) include($s);
			else echo $s;
			echo "\n\n";
		}	
	
	echo "\t\t\t</div>\n";
	echo "\t\t\t<!-- /Sidebar -->\n\n";
} 

If you have any questions relative this article or know some other useful web-master hacks write a comment or contact our team directly.

How to be good in web-mastering?

If you are a website developer you are familiar with ready-to-use web templates, programming frameworks, and content management systems (CMS). Such solutions "out of the box" make the web-mastering a convenient and simple process.

But very often there is a task to add custom scripts to a web-site bypassing CMS or other non-standard way. Especially if you do not have full access to the source code of the system. The task becomes very difficult if the website is built using an outdated code or an abandoned framework.

The best principle in software development is the same as for medicine:

Primum non nocere (Do not harm)

Therefore, the best way is to make your own code independent of the environment. Then add small and simple (in one line) injections to the working code base. In the embedded code, check the existence of your own variables, try to call only the standard language functions.

Choose the proper method to change the website context. You should select from simple to complex:

  • printing new html blocks as a text
  • call custom function that generates new content
  • include the script files directly
  • add own framework scripts into every old files

And never do the following:

  • edit old/cms code directly
  • rewrite all code using other programming language
  • re-create website using some modern CMS

Happy webmastering 🙂

Avoid same IDs for HTML elements

Many back-end developers don't care about clearance of HTML code. They think it is a front-end developers job...

Yes, but no 🙂 Developers should create a bulletproof code on both sides.

Very often, calling the PHP code, that generates some HTML template, for the second time creates two sets of HTML elements with the same IDs. This is wrong!

Here is a workaround to avoid same IDs for HTML elements using a global variable:

<?php
global $some_global_variable;
if (isset($some_global_variable)) $some_global_variable += 1; else $some_global_variable = 0;   

$form_id = '';
if ($some_global_variable > 0) $form_id = $some_global_variable;
?>

This is an example of HTML template for this hack:

<form role="search" method="get" id="searchForm<?php echo $form_id ?>" class="searchForm" action="/search/">
    <input type="text" id="searchText<?php echo $form_id ?>" name="search" value="" />
    <input type="submit" id="searchButton<?php echo $form_id ?>" value="" />
</form>

Try to be a good programmer every-time and everywhere!