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Handling Site Layouts in ColdFusion with Layout Components

A flexible way to handle layouts for your sites

This approach is also similar to Fusebox layouts without requiring Fusebox and without requiring all requests to run through one file. Additionally, you don't have any restriction on the use of <cfflush> (a problem with layouts in Fusebox 3).

Getting Started
Here are some steps to get started using layout components:

  1. Create a "layouts" directory from the root of your Web site
  2. Create (or download) layout.cfc in your layouts folder (see Listing 5)
  3. Create a default.cfc in your layouts folder (see Listing 3)
  4. Initialize default.cfc from Application.cfm. <cfset layout = CreateObject("component","layouts.default").init()>
  5. Create any other layout components you need for your site
  6. Use the layout components on each page (see Listing 1 and Listing 2)
A Few Other Notes
Tip 1
I find it helpful to perform any logic I need on a page before my call to layout.head(). This may include calls to components or any other logic specific to the page. I don't perform any logic that isn't directly tied to output after layout.head().

Tip 2
Once your site is complete and tested, you can eliminate all white space before your HTML by adding <cfcontent reset="yes"> before the first line of html in your layout component. Don't do this until your site is fully tested as it could disrupt the display of problems that occur before you call layout.head().

Tip 3
You can access shared-scope variables (including request variables) from within components, but you cannot access local variables that were set outside of the component. I recommend manually passing in any required variables to your component (by adding a method to layout.cfc). If you do so, make sure you store the variables in the variables.me structure so that they will be retained when switching layouts.

Tip 4
If you need to output part of your layout after some of the contents of the page, you can add a method to your layout components to handle this. For example, on some sites, I need an extra layout.menu() method because I need to show my menu below content that is specific to the page. If you add a method like this, make sure to add it to layout.cfc (with no output) first. This will make sure that the method is always available, even for layouts that don't use it.

Layout components provide a flexible way to handle layouts for your sites. Try it out and I think you will find that the implementation of layout components is easy.

You can download the files from this example as well as layout components for PDF, Excel, and Word from my Web site (http://www.bryantwebconsulting.com). They have worked well for me and I look forward to hearing about how they work for you.

Good Luck!

More Stories By Steve Bryant

Steve Bryant is the founder and CEO of Bryant Web Consulting LLC (www.bryantwebconsulting.com) and teaches ColdFusion at Breakaway Interactive (www.breakawayinteractive.com). He got his BA in philosophy at Oklahoma State University. Steve, one of the top ColdFusion developers in the country, still has no idea how that led to a career in Web development. Steve blogs at steve.coldfusionjournal.com as one of CFDJ's published bloggers.

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Most Recent Comments
CFDJ News Desk 11/29/05 06:57:35 PM EST

Handling Site Layouts in ColdFusion with Layout Components. Most sites have similar issues related to the site layout. I have seen many solutions that solve some challenges related to layout, but fail to handle others elegantly. I have found that using layout components elegantly solves all of the layout problems I have faced.

Steve Bryant 11/29/05 12:13:51 PM EST

I haven't used Fusebox 4. From my understanding, though, the restriction on cfflush has been circumvented in Fusebox 4. The need to run al files through index.cfm, however, is central to Fusebox.

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