SSI stands for server-side includes. This is exactly what it means, SSI is a set of tags that on SSI-enabled servers (which is all of them except for free ones) allows you embed commands in your HTML documents that are executed on the server before being passed along to the client.

Here, we're most interested in the #include virtual tag, which allows you to drop any document where the tag is. The document being included is put there exactly like it is, so most people include flat text files that contain snippets of HTML that correspond to something they want to put on all pages (or pages in a specific section) that needs to be updated on a regular basis. SSI fits the bill for this because you change the text file and all documents that include it are instantly updated to show the change.

You need to know several things to use the #include command properly...

  1. The document must have the .shtml (or sometimes .shtm will work but don't count on it) extension, NOT .htm or .html.
  2. To use this tag, place this command where you want the included file to appear:
  3. You can leave off the leading slash, but only if the file you're including is in the same directory as the including file. It's good practice to use the full path.

For example, if you download this file off the server through FTP, you'll notice that there is only one line in the SHTML file, an include that includes /includes/include.txt, which is actually what you're reading right now.

You're now ready to start including things :). Have fun. When converting pages, you should also include the file "/top.txt" somewhere between the <head> and </head> tags on each and every page. This is important as I have placed some code in this file that circumvents whatever Jim is up to with pointing rpgshrines at our site, as well as some global information that will boost our search engine ranks.