[thelist] Total separation of content and presentation

Rosalie Sennett rsennett at brainlink.com
Tue Dec 21 13:13:54 CST 2004

You both bring up a very good point.

I suppose that since Ellen kind of primed her questions by mentioning the
desire for 'pure' css and added the DIV tag aspect, we've all been going off
on a tangent when the answer is perhaps in the subject.

Separation of the content (store it someplace and go get it) from the
presentation (deliver in a format that doesn't demand change based on the

So a storage facility like a database or a templated marked up version of
the content (in XML) would separate out the two elements. (XML might be
overkill in this case or may be more work than not if the learning curve is

Then there will always be the question of whether far ranging volumes of
content will be accommodated in the design... i.e. template accustomed to
200 words and this week's content is 450, shoving everything over)

Any medium you choose can be high or low maintenance. There can be extremely
maintainable HTML and unruly complex 'pure' CSS/HTLM combinations...

Break down what you need specifically and why. What expertise do you have in
house already? No matter what, you'll be contending with a mark up language
of some kind, whether it is HTML with CSS or XML styled with XSL then XHTML
and CSS...

There are traditional uses for both storage methods suggested but you can
think outside the box. Database traditionally holds things that are
repetitive, but flow into a template structure on the page... items for sale
for example. The data structure remains the same, but in order to avoid
editing the display pages when items are added or deleted from the list, a
database is used.

People usually go through the trouble of using XML if they're going to put
the information into different templates... or share the information... or
when they have to conform to someone else's structure. I'm not sure that
there is anything to gain from using XML(and friends) when you aren't going
to be integrating with someone else or between disparate systems. Unless of
course... that is your area of expertise already!

Outside those reasons, it is really dependent on the kind of skill-set your
people already have...

Can I ask what it is you're going to produce?



> -----Original Message-----
> From: thelist-bounces at lists.evolt.org [mailto:thelist-
> bounces at lists.evolt.org] On Behalf Of Alex Farran
> Sent: Tuesday, December 21, 2004 1:41 PM
> To: thelist at lists.evolt.org
> Subject: Re: [thelist] Total separation of content and presentation
> Tony Crockford writes:
> > have you thought this through?  the source order affects the
> > presentation  unless you make all the divs absolutely positioned, in
> > which case the  content might over-run.
> > I don't understand why you'd have thousands of pages to modify?
> > surely you should be using a few html templates, some CSS style sheets
> > and  a database to hold the content.
> That would be my approach.
> If that doesn't quite match Ellen's needs then she might want to
> consider investigating XML and XSL.  The data can be held as XML files
> and styled with XSL stylesheets.  Using XML you can have a purely
> semantic representation of your data, with your own custom tags.  An
> XSL stylesheet transforms the structure of your document into XHTML
> which is sent to the browser along with a CSS stylesheet.
> --
>     __o    Alex Farran - Open source software specialist
>   _`\<,_   PHP | MySQL | E-Commerce | Content Management
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