Including National Material in Council Web Sites

The National Council Web site (http://www.scouting.org) is designed to support council sites by providing content that can be included in a "frame" of your council site. A modification to your Web site's existing design, which should be minor in most cases, will be necessary to obtain these benefits:

  1. Labor Savings. The material you include from the National site will be created by staff at the national office, which will enable you to provide site content without expending staff or volunteer resources.
  2. Accuracy. Most material on National's Web site comes directly from digital files, eliminating errors and omissions that occur when a document is manually re-typed. Additionally, departments at the national office review all their material before it is posted to the Internet to ensure that it is accurate.
  3. Timeliness. The information included in your site will be updated at the exact moment it is updated on the National site. There will be no discrepancies between the information provided by your site and the National one. Moreover, departments at National may update to their Web site materials promptly, ensuring the information included in your site is accurate to the day, potentially to the minute.
  4. Identity. Unlike providing a link to an external page, including a page in a "frame" will not act as an exit. You will be able to keep visitors to your Web site "inside" your site, rather than sending them elsewhere.

Fundamentally, the "frames" will divide the Web browser's content window into a split-screen. A column on the left side of the page may contain navigation buttons and logo (in most cases, your council strip patch) and the right side will contain "content" that may be drawn from your own site or included from national. Meanwhile, the "location" field (the area of the browser window that shows a page's URL) will indicate that the user is at your site, regardless of where the information in the content frame is located.

The material that follows provides specific instructions for creating a frameset to include National pages.

IMPORTANT!

There are significant legal issues you should be aware of when using frames to include pages from other sites into your own.

If you choose to employ the technique described below, pay close attention to the section entitled "Links to External Sites."

Frames Documentation

The following documentation provides specific instructions for creating a FRAMESET for including content from the National Web site in your own. There are other options and parameters that can be used to create a more advanced or customized interface - however, providing complete documentation on HTML frames is beyond the scope of the present document. For complete information, consult an HTML manual or tutorial.

The Basic Frameset

To create a basic frameset, use the following code in an HTML source document:

<HTML>
<HEAD>
<TITLE>Your Council Web Site</TITLE>
</HEAD>
<FRAMESET COLS="180,* BORDER="0" FRAMEBORDER="0" FRAMESPACING="0">
<FRAME NAME="sidebar" SRC="sidebar.html" SCROLLING="NO">
<FRAME NAME="content" SRC="content.html" SCROLLING="AUTO">
</FRAMESET>
<NOFRAMES>
Content for no-frames users
</NOFRAMES>
</HTML>

The text in blue should be customized as follows:

  • Your Council Web Site - change to the title of your page (this title will appear in the window's title bar)
  • sidebar.html - change to the relative path of your sidebar document (explained below)
  • content.html - change to the relative path of your initial content document (explained below)
  • Content for no-frames users - replace with HTML code for any content you wish to provide for users whose browsers are not capable of rendering frames. Typically, this would be a no-frames version of your home page or a "site map" that provides links to content pages.

This document will create a set of frames into which a sidebar and initial content document, each described below, will be loaded.

Sidebar Document

This document will be loaded into the narrow column on the left side of the screen. It should contain your logo and links (text or buttons) to content pages. Code for this page will vary according to your needs and tastes - however, you should take into account that the document will be only 180 pixels wide.

Also, a TARGET attribute should be added to any link that will cause the document to be loaded into the content window. For example, if your scout shop page is at "sshop.html", a link to load the content should be coded as follows:

<A HREF="sshop.html" TARGET="content">Our Scout Shop</A>

If the TARGET attribute is omitted, the document will load into the sidebar column - which may be useful for replacing the initial sidebar with a different one, but is generally undesirable when loading content documents.

Initial Content Document

The initial content document will load into the right column of the screen. It should contain whatever text material is presented on current your home page and, optionally, redundant links for visitors whose browsers are incapable of rendering frames.

This page should be designed for a minimum width of 420 pixels in order to accommodate low-end monitors, but should be able to scale horizontally to take advantage of larger monitors.

No alteration to links will generally be necessary - by default, any document that is linked from the content frame will load into the content frame.

Including Material From the National Site

Including material from the National site should be as simple as including material from your own. For example, if you wish to include the Supply division's monthly list of featured products, include this code in your page:

<A HREF="http://old.scouting.org/supply/index.html">Featured Products</A>

If this link is placed in your sidebar, remember to include the TARGET, as described above.

To determine the URL of any page on the National Council site, it may be necessary to view the page outside the frameset:

  1. Navigate the National Council sit to the page that you wish to include
  2. Place the cursor in the content frame and right-click (PC) or command-click (Macintosh)
  3. From the pop-up menu, select "New Window With This Frame" (depending on your software, this may not be the exact phrase)
  4. When the new window opens, the URL in the location window will indicate the location of the page, which you may cut-and-paste into your own Web page.

Another technique would be to right- or command- click any link to the page you'd like to include and select "copy this link location," which will copy the URL of that page to your system clipboard so that it may then be pasted into an open document.

Links to External Sites

If you wish to provide a link to an external Web site, it is important to TARGET it to the entire window, thus:

<A HREF="http://www.someplace.com/pack25" TARGET="_top">Pack 25</A>

If you do not include a TARGET, the page will load into the present frame (content frame) - and if that page has not been specifically designed to be part of a frameset. This could cause problems that range from aesthetic (the page is too wide for the frame) to functional (nested framesets with redundant frame names could cause a browser, or even terminal, to crash).

Additionally, there are potential liability issues when content from an external site is included in a frame - and while BSA councils and units (hereby) have permission to include content from the BSA National Council's Web site, the same is not necessarily true of other council, unit, and third-party Web sites.


Interface Design Parameters

The following parameters are "defaults" for the National Council site. Knowing them should help you design pages that are commensurate in appearance and functionality, and they should be taken into account should you decide to customize your frameset.

  • Interfaces are designed for a minimum width of 420 pixels in order to accommodate a sidebar of up to 200 pixels on a low-end (640-by-480 resolution) monitor without scrolling horizontally. Interfaces should also "scale" to take advantage of the additional width of larger monitors.
  • Information will be provided in modules - self-contained pages or suites of pages that link to other modules or resources only where it is logical or necessary according to the content of a page. Specifically, no site-wide navigation links will be included in content documents.
  • Default colors for documents will be white background (#FFFFFF) black text (#000000), red links (#CC0000), and blue visited links (#000099). The typeface set will be "georgia,century." This is flexible, and certain information modules have their own font/color schemes (Venturing, for example, uses a sans-serif face and green links)
  • Page "header" graphics and content graphics will be in color. Black-and-white graphics will only be used when color versions are not available. ALT text will be provided to assist users unable to load or view graphics. As a convention, this text will include "LINK" if the graphic serves as a link.
  • HTML tables will not be used to format content unless absolutely necessary (software used by the disabled to access the Internet often has trouble with tables). Text content should expand to the width of the window.

It is likely that there will be exceptions to these settings: the physical appearance of interfaces on the National Council site is largely controlled by the departments that "own" the material those interfaces contain. Also, there are cases in which it is not logical or practical to adhere strictly to the preceding parameters.