History of the religion menu

28 May, 13 and 17 June 2011

Trigger

When preparing to write my article Geen handdruk: neerbuigend? (provisional English title, if ever translated: ‘No handshake: condescending?’) I decided I wanted it stored in a religion folder and referred to from a religion menu of my website.

However, one of the points I made in the article is that some Muslims not wanting to shake a woman’s hand, is not so much a matter of religion, but rather of sexual morals. For that reason, I also refer to the article from the menu Politiek en samenleving, (‘Politics and society’) which is about (mainly Dutch) politics, legal matters, and how people live together in society.

Multiple references

Such multiple references to the same article make me think of modern CMSs and blogging software such as Wordpress. Wordpress has categories and tags for grouping articles. One article can belong to more than one category and have more than one tag. Because categories (but not tags) can have a hierarchical structure, they can be used in a manner similar to directories (also known as folders) in a more traditional website such as mine.

Perhaps in hindsight, I should have used a Wordpress blog rather than a site, to save myself the effort of hand coding menu entries, by instead using tags and/or categories.

But rebuilding everything now is a lot of work, so I won't do it. And yes, I do have a Wordpress blog now, but I use it mainly for summaries and links to the full articles on my own site.

Unix directories and multiple references

Under Unix-based operating systems, a single file can be referenced by more than one name in the same directory (using hard links), or even from different directories, using symbolic links.

My website is hosted on a FreeBSD Unix system, but the working copy is on a Windows system. Because Windows doesn't support multiple directory references to the same file, I prefer not to use them for my website.

Update: Today (17 June 2011) I learnt from Wikipedia that newer, NT-based Windows systems, such as Windows Vista® and Windows® 7, do support hard links and symbolic links. However, I stick to my decision not to use them.

Remote past

A religion folder (then still named ‘bible’) I already had. That is, some very old articles, with vague links to religion, were already on my website, among the first things I put online.

It was the period when I didn't have my own domain yet, and put all my language-related articles in a single directory called articles. I had forgotten about that structure myself, but the Wayback Machine remembers almost everything you do online. Or it did until February 2009, because that is the most recent snapshot it has of my website.

I found those old directories on 11 June 2011, when trying to reconstruct the date of writing and publication for then undated articles to be referred to in the new Tourism menu.

Default index file names

I can hyperlink to the religion directory now, but that won't show its contents, because of the recent addition of a file index.htm. My web server (Apache) is configured such that files with a name like that is shown instead of a directory listing. In other cases (e.g. tourism) I deliberately gave the menu file a different name, so the web server will show directory contents if that is what the hyperlink points to.

Frameset

So before recently, I didn’t have a religion menu on my site. Instead I used a frameset file. The idea was to split the screen into a permanent site menu part, and a part where the chosen article was displayed.

Consequently, the article files themselves did not contain any hyperlinks to other locations on the same website, because all navigation was supposed to be done using the menu part of the frameset.

An example of such a hyperlinkless file can still be seen here: an undated article in Dutch, about Dutch adverbs inflected as adjectives. Apart from the Google Adsense ads added later, it is still in the original state, probably from 1999 or earlier.

Later on, I largely abandoned frames, although traces of it can still be seen in my front page and here. (Update 24 October 2012: lingfrm.htm now also completely abolished.)


Copyright © 2011 R. Harmsen.
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