GeodSoft logo   GeodSoft

Standardizing Web Site Appearance

Perl's powerful regular expression / text pattern matching was used to standardize serveal hundred web pages with a vaugly similar style but no real standards.

The legal publisher continued to host ATLA NET at no charge but with their energies being focused elsewhere, were not highly responsive to ATLA's requests. George Shaffer's first actions were to get the host to create a CGI directory within the ATLA maintainable area so that ATLA could maintain and develop its own CGI scripts and to begin working on standardizing the web page appearance throughout the site. Using his knowledge of Perl from AIX administration, and after a thorough study the range of existing web pages he wrote a script that made extensive use of Perl's powerful regular expression capabilities which did most of the work in standardizing ATLA NET's page appearance. It recursively processed a directory tree against a wild card list of filenames, typically "*.ht, *.htm, *.html" and standardized HTML tag capitalization, indentation and line spacing, removed certain common spurious elements and added standard page headers and footers based on the locations of the HTML <body> tags.

Fortunately the site was still only several hundred pages so that it could be checked and the few files which were improperly processed could be manually fixed. The script always preserved a backup copy of processed files. Often all that was required was to fix the HTML coding in the original file, such as adding missing <body> tags, and re- run the script. A descendant of that script is still used on ATLA's primary web site to maintain consistent page appearance. On several occasions the script has been used to apply minor or major page appearance changes to the entire web site; it can process more than 5000 static HTML files in about a half hour. Standard page headers and footers are identified with standard HTML comments so the script processes files appropriately regardless of whether they have or have not been previously standardized.

Other early projects included developing a robust automated online registration process that let ATLA members create their own web usernames and passwords and a functional online member directory. During this same period George Shaffer wrote a 35 page RFP with the intent of finding a new hosting service. Until the responses were received, ATLA did not appreciate the value of the free hosting services that the legal publisher was still providing. There was no budget for the web site, except the salary of the "ATLA NET Coordinator", and clearly not enough flexibility in the IT budget to seriously consider any of the responses. ATLA was forced to look at in-house solutions.

transparent spacer

Top of Page - Site Map

Copyright © 2000 - 2014 by George Shaffer. This material may be distributed only subject to the terms and conditions set forth in (or These terms are subject to change. Distribution is subject to the current terms, or at the choice of the distributor, those in an earlier, digitally signed electronic copy of (or cgi-bin/ from the time of the distribution. Distribution of substantively modified versions of GeodSoft content is prohibited without the explicit written permission of George Shaffer. Distribution of the work or derivatives of the work, in whole or in part, for commercial purposes is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained from George Shaffer. Distribution in accordance with these terms, for unrestricted and uncompensated public access, non profit, or internal company use is allowed.

Home >
About >
Large Project >

What's New
Email address

Copyright © 2000-2014, George Shaffer. Terms and Conditions of Use.