IdeaXchg Help

Using Frames

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What Are Frames?

The IdeaXchg web design makes use of a standard HTML feature called "frames".  A framed browser window is divided into two or more panes, which may be separated by movable splitter bars.  Each pane or "frame" of the browser window can display a different page, and the framed browser window (or "frameset") can be set up so that clicking on a link in one frame causes the target page to be loaded in a different frame.

Why Use Frames?

Since many people are confused or annoyed by frames, we avoid imposing this feature on users by providing a normal, "unframed" interface as the default.  However, while you don't have to use frames at all, there are some situations where they can be very handy.

In IdeaXchg, frames are used to provide a convenient "Explorer-like" interface that presents a "Contents" outline in the upper frame coupled to a child "Article" frame at the bottom.  As you navigate through links in the Contents frame, pages are loaded into the Article frame below, so you can easily keep track of the outline while viewing the pages it refers to.  This same device is supported for both the edited forum Contents pages and the indented outlines of discussion threads, which are generated automatically as messages are posted.

The Frame Link

In order to go into "framed mode", look for the Frame link at the top or bottom of the page.  Only certain pages will have a Frame link, although most pages will have an Unframe link.  The pages that include a Frame link might be the site's home page, the main Contents pages for each forum, and the Discussion main page for each discussion area.  Try clicking on the Frame link and then on the Unframe link to see what happens.  When you click on the Frame link, the page you were looking at appears in the upper frame of a split browser window.  You can drag the horizontal splitter bar up or down to adjust the proportions of these two panes.  See what happens when you click on links in the body of upper frame.  Some links may be just "intra-page" links (typically in bold face) that jump to another spot within the same frame, and some links load a different page into the upper frame (typically in navigation bars), but most of the links in body of the upper frame will cause the target page to be loaded in the lower frame.

The Unframe Link

At the top and bottom of almost every IdeaXchg page, there is an Unframe link.  If you are viewing a page in framed mode, regardless of whether it's in the upper or the lower frame, you can quickly revert to viewing that page in a normal, full-sized browser window by click on the Unframe link.  Certain operations, such as creating bookmarks and saving the current page to a file (Save As...), are much more convenient to do in unframed mode.  You can go back and forth between framed and unframed modes as you see fit.

Using the Browser's Back and Forward Commands

Try a little experimentation to see how your browser's Back and Forward commands behave, as this is often the easiest way to return to framed mode after briefly switching into unframed mode.  In Microsoft's Internet Explorer, you can get to these commands via the toolbar, the main menu, and the context menu that appears when you right-click.


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