Why Use Libraries and Templates?
Libraries are a feature of Dreamweaver that allow you to use the same content on multiple pages. What this means is that you can have repeated content on multiple pages, but only have to edit the content in one place.
Let’s say that you have a news box that appears on every page. Without libraries, you would have to open each and every page and edit the news box anytime you wanted it updated. WIth libraries, the news box can be a library item, included on each page, but only requiring that you edit and save the library item. One change, one save, and every page with the library item gets updated. Dreamweaver libraries make this kind of editing a breeze!
Templates, or .dwt files, are similar but different — you have a main template page with a specific layout, and the content areas in the layout can be defined to change for each page. The similarity with include pages is that if you update the template, all pages “attached” to the template will update. The difference is that templates control an entire page layout, while libraries control a component of a page. You can have multiple templates used in the same web site – for example, you could have a 2-column .dwt and a 3-column .dwt. Our designers can help make it seamless when switching from one template to another by keeping the same “editable areas;” when you switch templates, essentially all that changes is where on the page those content areas end up.
Now, let’s say that six months down the road you decide that it’s time for a new look for your site. Without DWTs, you’d have to create or download the new design template, open every page of your site, copy and paste all the content from each page into the page template, save-as, modify the meta tags and title for each page … you can see it would be quite a job. But with DWTs, you would create or download a new DWT and then apply the design to your pages with two or three clicks!
PixelMill Dreamweaver templates are all required to use DWTs, and most of them use libraries for items like the header or footer as well. (The real power of Libraries comes in the components that you create for yourself — such as my news box example from before!) Also, most of our DWTs are DWTIG-compliant, which is another blog topic in itself, but for now it will suffiice to say that DWTIG-compliant templates make applying a new design truly seamless.