What is a WebBlock?

To understand what a WebBlock is, you need to understand the difference between static and dynamic web pages.

The Actinic system is largely based on a set of components that are linked to a database. Web pages that are generated from the information contained in a database are said to be dynamic. They are well suited for displaying repetitive data (product list, favorite sites list, FAQ list, etc.). For example, when you add a new product to your catalogue, because the pages of the Shopping Cart component are dynamically generated, all the pages displaying product lists will be immediately updated.

A static page on the other hand, will always display as it was initially programmed by the Webmaster.

WebBlocks are static pages. They are a collection of elements that can be texts, images, form input areas, etc. You'll find more details in the following online help topics:
 Using WebBlocks

First of all, WebBlocks can be used to create whole pages on your site.

You can decide whether a WebBlock will be displayed full page or within the data area of a standard site page (with or without menus, shortcut blocks and editorial).

For example, you can use a WebBlock to build a home page for your site.

You can also use WebBlocks like static blocks that can be "grafted" to certain site elements to replace a long text. For example, you can use a WebBlock:
  • in the editorial block
  • in your Items descriptions and in most components
  • in your Items detailed descriptions and in most components
  • in category descriptions
  • in category headers
  • for creating newsletters
  • in the thank you message of a Web Form.
 WebBlocks when necessary

Dynamic web pages have numerous advantages. They allow your visitors to choose and classify information however they want, to search for information using an internal search engine, etc. You can easily change the aspect of these pages while maintaining the same data.

Don't be too hasty to use WebBlocks for creating your site. That's the error often made by users of classic HTML editors like FrontPage or DreamWeaver. You shouldn't list your products or your categories in a WebBlock, make a FAQ WebBlock, list your partners or news announcements in a WebBlock. There are components for that and they are much easier and more powerful.

There are however certain circumstances where using components linked to a database doesn't make sense. For example, a page stating your terms and conditions of sale. There's only one of these.

 Why not use HTML pages?

The purpose of WebBlocks is to let you create web pages easily, without any knowledge of HTML

You can of course, insert HTML code as well as JavaScript into your WebBlocks, and in particular using an "Add HTML code or a Script" element. Be sure your HTML/JavaScript skills are good enough to avoid adding code that would disturb the proper display of your page.

 Editing WebBlocks

Configuring and creating content for a WebBlock is done, respectively, on the Edit Properties and Edit WebBlock pages.

The Edit WebBlock page lets you add content to your WebBlock.

Content is organised in tables which can be nested in one another. Each table-cell can contain one or more elements.

See the following help topics for more information on WebBlock editing:
It should be noted however that::
  • An [Undo]/[Redo] button is available which lets you cancel the last thing you did.

  • Another button offers a Display Mode.

    This display does not give an exact preview of the way a web browser will display your WebBlock in your site. This mode simply allows you to view certain elements which remain hidden in Construction Mode, such as rich text elements.

    To see exactly what your WebBlock will look like, you should regularly save your WebBlock and preview it using either the View WebBlock icon (full page preview) or the View WebBlock in Site icon (preview in the data area of a site page).

    If you don't see the modifications you've just made, you should empty your browser's cache memory.

  • The main table has a checkbox called Use your site's style sheet. This lets you apply the typographical styles defined globaly for your site design when editing your WebBlock.

    By unchecking this box, you will be using generic fonts, which can be necessary if certain font syles in your design are white or near white.

Properties lets you define the container, in other words, general information about your WebBlock and it's behaviour in your site. This subject is covered in detail in the help topic: WebBlocks, Properties

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