Designing a great Web site is just the start of an ongoing process of Web site management. Build it and they may come, but to keep them coming back you cannot afford lost links and orphaned Web pages. If you find yourself in this position, help is at hand with Visio 2000 Professional Edition’s Web Site Map add-on.
o you’ve created this killer Web site, full of information and lots of links. Yo u ’ re ecstatic about how it turned out and everyone who looks at it tells you how great it is. Once the excitement dies down, the realisation hits you that somehow you’re going to have to manage this site. After all, from the huge sites of major international corporations down to your personal Web site about the life cycles of your pet slug, every site needs to be monitored and managed to make the most of your presence on the Internet. Dropped links, lost pages and old content sound the death knell for any Web site. Visio 2000 Professional Edition gives you a powerful tool to help you with this task: the Web Site Map add-on. This standard option for Visio 2000 Professional automatically maps any Web site you point it at and then gives you a graphical representation of the site, complete with information about every page, link and detail it found.


The Web site mapper is a crawler (a program that searches for and indexes Web
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pages) similar to the famous Internet search services, but instead of indexing the entire Web, it indexes a single Web site. It starts at the Web page you point it to and indexes all linked pages below that, down to the level of links you specify. The mapper makes a temporary database containing every link from the pages as well as every graphic, audio, movie and scripting file. Then it creates a Visio graphical element for each one and lays these out on the Visio drawing page, interlocked the way they would be on an organisational chart. The crawler is searching through the HTML code of every page for standard link references like HREF and SRC, and then looking for the referenced file. If the crawler doesn’t find the file, it assumes the link is broken and displays the link as such. You can specify types of files and links to have the Web site mapper look for, or you can let it find everything on the page. Once you have all the information on the Visio page, you can use the map any way you like, including adding it to other documents about your Web site.

Creating a basic Web site map is quick and

easy using the Web Site Map tool. First, open up Visio 2000 Professional and start a new Web Site Map document by selecting File | New | Internet diagram | Web Site Map from the menu. The resulting dialog (Figure 1) prompts you for the address of the Web site you want to map. Make sure you have access to the Web site you want—you’ll need to have an active Internet connection unless you’re mapping a site that exists on your hard drive or network. You’ll also need to select the number of levels the crawler will search down (the default is 5) and how many total links it will investigate before stopping (the default is 500). The One Level check box lets you override the Maximum number of levels option to give you a quick diagram of the Web site. Keep in mind that the total number of links determines the total number of shapes on the Visio drawing page. When you click OK, the Web Site Map tool starts mapping the Web site. You’ll see i n f o rmat io n ab out ea ch pag e be in g mapped as it works (Figure 2). When the process is finished, Visio lays out the link and object information it found on your Visio drawing page (Figure 6, page 100).



The default options of Web site mapping make for a pretty exciting site management tool, but there are lots more advanced options to help you get the information you need about your Web site. One thing to make sure of before you start any new map is that you have a completely clean Vi s i o page. It’s usually easier to just start a whole new Web Site Map document each time you map a site. Create a new Web Site Map document as described earlier, and then click the Options ... button in the resulting dialog. This gives you the Links and Advanced tabs, with which you can change the crawler settings (Figure 3). By default, the mapper looks for every standard kind of link found on the Web page. The Links tab lets you specify the ones you’re interested in. This can be helpful when you just want HTML page links, or when you are trying to sort out a linking problem (when your image links aren’t working, for example). Before you can turn anything on or off, you’ll need to deselect the All Links option. Once you turn that option off, you can select or deselect different types of files. You can also use this tab to add nonstandard file types, such as those you’ve developed yourself. When you check the Duplicate links box, your diagram shows all the links from each page, even those that appear more than once on a page. This option is usually checked, but it can return a huge number of links if you have used a link many times—a tiny graphic that’s used as a bullet in a long list, for example. So you may want to turn this option off to avoid unnecessary clutter on your diagram. The Links on a remote site check box shows the connections from your site to external sites. By default, this box is checked. Visio gives you a shape for every page you link to on remote sites of any kind, but it does not investigate the remote page’s own links, even if the page is well within the level limit you set in the first window. Visio ignores links to other sites when you uncheck this box. The Advanced tab (Figure 4) gives you even more power for specifying what you want to s

pear in your diagram. You can identify which code triggers the mapping tool will look for and tell the tool to ignore others as it sifts through your HTML. By default all the triggers (such as HREF and SRC) are set to create links and consequently shapes in your diagram. You can tell Web site mapping to ignore any of the triggers it’s programmed to find. The mapper is set to find links based on HREF, SRC, BACKGROUND, ACTION, CODEBASE and CODE commands. It finds and separately identifies each type of link, such as MAILTO:, and assigns an icon based on that type. On the Advanced tab, you can also add or completely remove code triggers from the list of choices, which determine what HTML tags will generate a page shape on the map. Using the Add or Remove buttons, you can indicate a different set of triggers. Removing a trigger isn’t generally necessary, but adding triggers can make this helpful tool even more useful if you have unique tags in the pages you’re trying to track. Just as with the basic site map, when you are done with the more advanced setting options, click OK until you are back to the main window and then run the Web site mapping tool.

Figure 1: The Generate Site Map dialog box appears when you start a new Web Site Map. Here you tell Visio what to map.

Figure 2: Visio displays this dialog to show you its progress while mapping your site.

Figure 3: This Options dialog is accessed from a button on the Generate Site Map dialog box. Use the Links tab to tell Visio what kind of files to include on the map.

If you have even a modest Web site, it’s easy to have more shapes than you really want on one drawing page. For a large Web site, the several hundred or several thousand shapes can become totally unmanageable. Fortunately, Visio provides some special layout tools to help you deal with the problem. There are several layout options, and you need to know how you want the diagram to look before you can choose one. By default, the links are laid out as you would expect to see them on an organisational chart. For most Web sites, this generates a very short, wide document, looking something like a long strip of paper. If your site meets this description, you probably want to choose a different layout. There are three styles: Radial, Flowchart/Tree (the default) and Circular. You access these by
Figure 4: Use the Advanced tab to control which HTML attributes should trigger the creation of a shape.

Figure 5: The Lay Out Shapes dialog is accessed from the Tools menu; it lets you change the way your link symbols are organised.

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Figure 6: Here’s a Visio Web Site Map showing the shapes for HTML pages, images and scripts.

choosing Tools | Lay Out Shapes (see Figure 5). Radial is great for Web sites with lots of back links—links that go back and forth among pages on the same level. Flowchart is good for Web sites that have a very topdown structure, such as those in which the only back links go to the home page. Circular is best for sites that have complicated link structures, or for Web sites that have links to all pages from all pages. In the Lay Out Shapes window, you can also choose how the lines that connect the

shapes behave (using the Connectors options), and how the shapes appear on the drawing page. By selecting to align the shapes with the grid, you let Visio help you arrange the diagram. The last option, Enlarge Page To Fit Drawing, should always be selected. That way, you can be assured that you will always be able to print the whole diagram. Most Web site maps will be too large to show reasonably on one page. This means you’ll either want to shrink the diagram (which may make it unreadable) or move

some of the links to other pages. Go back to the drawing page and right click on a Web page shape that has pages linked below it. Choose Make Subpage. Visio moves that Web page and all its corresponding links to a new, standard size page. The new page has a copy of the Web page shape that the moved page links to, and an arrow you can double click on to get back to the main map; these help you keep track of the interrelationships. Moving Web page shapes and links to new pages usually gives you a far more manageable diagram—one that will print easily across pages and that gives you shapes you can read. If you do not want to move shapes to new pages, you can always print the document as it is; Visio will automatically tile the diagram to print across several pages. All of this gets a lot easier if you have a printer that can handle larger sizes of paper.

Visio 2000 Professional’s Web site mapping tool creates a visual representation of a Web site of any size, but the map is just a pretty picture unless you use it. You must understand how the links are made and what they mean. You can alter the site, using the information on the site map to fix broken links, and you can alter the relationships of pages. Above all, it means using the map to make your Web site better and more manageable.

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