Developer .NET UPDATE—brought to you by the Windows & .NET Magazine Network
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September 5, 2003--In this issue:
1. Developer .NET Perspectives
- Making Minor Modifications to the Community Starter Kit
- Special Offer from SQL Server Magazine
- Discover Better Ways to Support and Secure Your Clients
- New Visual Basic .NET Resource
- New--Mobile & Wireless Road Show
5. New and Improved
- Develop Web Sites and Applications with Style
- Tell Us About a Hot Product and Get a T-Shirt!
6. Contact Us
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
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1. Developer .NET Perspectives
Last month, I showed you some of the underpinnings of the ASP.NET Community Starter Kit. This kit is available in six configurations on the Microsoft ASP.NET Web site (http://www.asp.net). To fit your needs, you can customize the Community Starter Kit two ways. You can modify the existing kit's elements, or you can add elements from the ASP.NET Web site to the kit. You use the former approach when you want to make relatively minor changes and the latter approach when you want to create a custom site that's only loosely based on the starter kit's functionality.
In this column, I want to show you how to work within the structure of the starter site. Modifying the existing elements lets you leverage the majority of the existing functionality with minimal effort. Before you start, create a copy of the Community Starter Kit's files. This copy lets you review the original code as you modify elements in the kit.
To begin, let's modify something simple, such as changing the logo associated with the site and adjusting the content on the home page. To make these modifications, you need to use the Community Starter Kit's administration pages. Log on to the starter site application with the administrative account that was created during installation. If you've forgotten the password for this account, go to the database and open the Community_Users table. This table lists at least 19 predefined user accounts--one of which is the admin user--and their passwords. The table stores the users' passwords in clear text, which is a limitation of the kit.
After you've logged on with the admin user account, you'll find a new menu option called Admin. Selecting this option takes you to the Admin pages. These pages run outside the scope of the underlying page templates that control the rest of the site. The Admin pages let you carry out minimal customization of your community site.
The Admin pages let you customize several different areas in the Community Starter Kit. One of those areas is the Edit Images page. Go into this page and add a new image called MyImage.jpg. This can be any image, although I suggest an image other than your logo for demonstration purposes.
After adding an image, return to the Admin page and select Edit Sections. The main Edit Sections page shows all the sections that make up the site. In this case, select the site's home page. After you make this selection, you have an initial option to edit the name of your home page and how the menu displays that name. However, we're more interested in editing the home page's appearance, so click Appearance. The Appearance link opens a screen with sections to edit various elements of your home page. The first item is the selected theme. I recommend that you look at several themes and decide which theme you want to base your site on, then delete the directories associated with the remaining themes. Note that because the home page is the parent page for your site, changes made at this level are inherited by all the other pages in the site. Selecting a final style is important because if you customize a template, the modifications are implemented in the subdirectory associated with that theme and that theme only. So, once you start customizing the pages, there is no sense in keeping the other themes around. For my site I selected the Professional theme.
Next, you want to customize the section's Logo. Here you can select an image file for upload to your community site. Notice that the image you uploaded in the Edit Images page isn't selected here. Instead, you're going to upload another image to the site. Select the image you would like to use as a logo. For testing purposes, I suggest an image that's at least 200 by 200 pixels. After you provide the image filename, you can move down the customization page to the next customization control, Section Page Header. Enter the text you want to display in the content section of your home page in this control. The Section Page Header control is a companion to the Section Page Footer control, which lets you customize the bottom of the content area. Both controls let you work in regions with the functionality of Rich Text Format (RTF) text boxes.
After you enter the text, I recommend that you use the View HTML Source check box to switch to the HTML source view. In doing so, you can add a reference to the MyImage.jpg that you uploaded earlier by entering the following "img" tag:
Switching back from the HTML source view, you should now see your image embedded alongside the text that you've entered for your updated home page. At this point, let's proceed to the bottom of the page and click the Apply Changes button to accept the changes. After the changes have been updated, return to your site's home page.
The first item you should notice is that the updated logo is larger than the logo it replaced and has offset everything else in the page. You're going to want to resolve this problem. One option is to use a logo image that's much smaller and fits within the design area. A better option, though, is to have the browser limit the size of whatever image is being used as a logo. To do so, you need to edit the code associated with the logo control. To find the Logo class in your project files, open the Community Starter Kit project in Visual Studio .NET, then go to the Class View. Double-clicking the class will open the Code View, in which you'll see that the class has a simple implementation.
The second of the two methods in this class is RenderLogoImage. This method transfers the logo information to the page. The RenderLogoImage method has a string that includes the "img" tag and a border property for the logo. The height and width properties for the logo are missing from the string. By adding these properties and defining the sizes appropriately, you can alter the size of the displayed logo. Because the change is made at the control level, you'll find that this change is automatically applied to your entire site.
After you've adjusted your logo's size, return to your home page. Notice that a menu appears on the left side as well as along the bottom of the page. In addition, all the same links are reflected within the primary content for your home page.
In looking at the home page, you might notice that the content area contains data related to the other sections that you didn't include in your Section Page area. If you search the Admin pages, you'll find that this content isn't reflected in a way that you can edit it. In short, this content is being generated based on your page type. I'll show you how to change this default content in my next column.
In the meantime, you can check out the "Community Starter Kit Documentation." Although this documentation isn't current with the latest version of the Community Starter Kit, it's a good starting point for finding out more information about site customization. You can find this documentation at:
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5. New and Improved
by Sue Cooper, [email protected]
Macromedia announced Dreamweaver MX 2004, software for building Web sites and applications. The software provides deep Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) support in a visual development environment, which helps separate presentation and style from content and gives you precise design control. You can create sites that require less bandwidth and are easy to maintain. Dreamweaver MX includes the MX HTML Elements, application building blocks that let you quickly deliver results with a consistent look and feel. Dreamweaver MX includes SecureFTP, dynamic cross-browser validation functionality, built-in graphics editing, seamless integration with Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, and updated support for ASP.NET, the PHP scripting language, and ColdFusion server technologies. Expected to ship later this month, Dreamweaver MX 2004 is priced at $199. Contact Macromedia on its Web site.
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6. Contact Us
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