What are Server Side Includes?

Some people might argue the fact if you really need server side includes anymore. The reason for that argument is that PHP and other scripting solutions have become much more powerful than your standard SSI code and commands. Web hosts still boast the fact that they offer SSI on all the hosting plans available. Why do so? What are server side includes?

Server side includes (sometimes known as SSI) are an Internet technology that instructs a Web server what to include in a dynamically generated Web page by inserting code into a template web page. Where is it useful? Most people use it to include a few lines of the same code on multiple Web sites.

As an example, lets say I have a block of text that is on the top of all my Web pages. Instead of having to retype that block of text every single time I wanted it on the Web page, I could use SSI to tell the Web site in question, “Hey, go get this block of text and put it here”. That way if you want to change the block of text, you only have to do it at one spot instead of having to change it on every single page on the Web site.

For those folks out there who know their way around a Web hosting server, they should check out the Apache Tutorial on server side includes. There is a lot of great information packed into there if you can translate all the geek talk to something you can really understand.

For the more novice folks out there, you might want to check out BigNoseBird.com’s server side include guide. It is more aimed towards the folks that aren’t really sure what all this jargon is all about.

Now some of you might be thinking, “You can do nearly the same thing in PHP right?” and you would be correct. So which way is better? That much is up to the user’s experience. Some people like SSI over PHP include code and others like using the PHP include code better than SSI.

[tags]servers,code,php,ssi[/tags]