9.1 The Frame Page
What your Web page visitor cares about is what's in the frames: the text and graphics.
But for you, the biggest challenge is creating the special Web page梩he frameset
page梩hat gives the frames their structure. The frameset page itself usually doesn't
contain text or graphics; it just describes the number, size, and placement of the frames.
This page tells a browser which Web page should load into each frame, whether the
frame has borders or scroll bars, and whether the visitor is allowed to resize the frame
by dragging its border.
Frames let you keep one element in place梩he banner
bars shown here
for example梬hile other contents of the Web page change. This way, the banner and navigation bar remain visible in one frame, even as
your reader scrolls
to read a long
page full of text or
even reloads the
page in another.
You may have heard of another frame technology called iframes. The <iframe> tag lets you embed
one Web page within another Web page. This way, you avoid having to use a frameset page while preserving
the main benefits of frames.
Unfortunately, although the latest browsers can handle iframes, Dreamweaver MX doesn't provide any
WYSIWYG tools for adding them to a page. Of course, if your HTML chops are sharp, you can jump into
the document's Code view and write the <iframe> tags yourself. See Chapter 10 for more on working with
raw HTML code.
For a gentle introduction to iframes, check out this Web page:
The frameset page accomplishes all this with the help of two HTML tags: the <frameset>
and <frame> tags. A <frameset> tag provides the superstructure of the layout:
the number and size of frame rows and columns, as well as the overall border properties
of all of the frames. Nested inside the <frameset> tag, a <frame> tag identifies
the specifics for each frame: which page loads into the frame, and what visual elements
梥uch as scroll bars梐ppear within the frame.
When your visitor's Web browser loads a Web page that contains frames, it first loads
the frameset page and determines the number, size, and appearance of the frames, as
described in the frameset. It then draws each of the frames in the browser window,
and finally downloads the Web pages that appear in each frame.
Frames are useful for banner logos, navigation bars, and
so on. But if you look around, you'll notice that not many
big-time Web sites use them. The reason: frames have
First, bookmarks and favorites don't always work with frames.
When you click a link inside a frame, a new page loads inside
it; if you click a link on that page, yet another page will load.
While it looks as if you are on a different page, the URL in
the Address bar remains unchanged. That's because a Web
browser uses the address of the frameset page.
In other words, suppose you follow several links within a
single frame, and then use your browser's Add Bookmark
or Add to Favorites command. Later, when you select the
bookmark or favorite, you'll see the frameset page and
the original pages inside it梱ou won't see the page you
wound up on.
Printing a Web page with frames can be tricky, too. Since a frames-based page is composed of multiple Web pages,
the browser doesn't know which page you want to print.
Different browsers handle this dilemma differently, much to
the confusion of novice Web surfers who don't understand
the frames concept. For example, if you're using the Mac
version of Internet Explorer 5 to view the second page in
Figure 9-2, and you click one of the navigation buttons in
the top frame, Internet Explorer thinks you've selected that
frame. If you then choose EditPrint, you'll print only that
top frame梐 useless row of buttons!
Still, used in moderation and in good taste (see Figure 9-2),
frames can be an excellent addition to your bag of Web tricks.
Small sites, where users aren't likely to print or bookmark the
pages, can make good use of frames. And you needn't use
frames everywhere on a site. You can effectively create small
presentations within a site梥uch as an online portfolio梩hat
benefit creatively from frames.
Since a frameset page is just an empty structure, you must also create Web pages for each frame you
wish to display. So if you add three frames to a page, you're actually creating four different Web pages梩he
frameset page, plus a page for each of the three frames. Because frames create more Web site files for
you to manage, you may save yourself some headaches by keeping the number of frames in your site to
Frames can be
obvious and ugly, or
subtle and effective.
Top: This fictional
Web page has five
frames. Notice the
thick border between
the frames and the
bars that appear
in the banner and
Bottom: This page
(bmrc.berkeley.edu/resources/) has three
frames, but with borders
turned off, the
frames merge into a
Only a single scroll
bar appears in the
content area (middle
frame) of the page.
This is your only clue
that this page uses
In this example, the
advantage of using
frames is that the site
logo and the navigation
(top frame) and
the site tools (bottom
remain visible even if
you scroll to read the
text contained in the