Condensing and installing part of a web site?

Subject: Condensing and installing part of a web site?
From: Geoff Hart <ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>, Caroline Tabach <Caroline -at- radcom -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 12 Nov 2006 08:18:33 -0500

Caroline Tabach wondered: <<We have an information set that we want to give our users that is currently an Internet site. Some users run our application when they are without internet access. We would like to give them the contents of this site on the Product CD. (We know how to do this)>>

It shouldn't be hard. The main trick will be to ensure that you watch out for any operating system issues, such as differences in legal and illegal names for files and how to specify the paths between the Web server's operating system and the system you use to create the Web site. That's usually not a big deal. For example, I run my own Web site (created in Dreamweaver MX) off my hard disk during testing, then upload the final files to my Web server, where it works without any changes. I imagine you should be able to do the same with your software.

<<However, the person responsible for our CD would like to be able to condense the contents of the site and to enable users to install/copy the contents/structure of the site to their computers.>>

It's not clear what you mean by "condense". Is the site is so large that it won't fit on a CD or would fill up the user's hard disk? If so, you may need to run it off multiple CDs, and that's a lot trickier. Or do you mean that you only want to provide the documentation, not the entire Web site? If that's the case, you should consider designing the documentation part of the site so that it's modular--that is, it can stand alone, and any links to information outside the documentation must be easy to identify so you can fiddle with them to work in this context.

<<(As part of the Auto Install they will have an option to install/ copy the xxx information set to their computer) Does anyone know how this can be done.>>

So long as all the information sits in a single directory on the CD, and all paths are defined relative to that root directory, you don't need to do anything more complex than copy that directory to the user's hard drive, and give them the option of adding a desktop icon or Start menu shortcut to reach the home page. If you want to make the information context sensitive and accessibly directly in the software, that's a job for your programmers. It shouldn't be particularly hard to do, but they need to figure out how to us the Map IDs or URLs correctly from within the software. That's a bit tricky if the software must first determine whether they're online or not, and provide different links in each of the two cases.

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Geoff Hart ghart -at- videotron -dot- ca

(try geoffhart -at- mac -dot- com if you don't get a reply)

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Condensing and installing part of a web site: From: Caroline Tabach

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