HTML Disturbed Link Patcher

HTML Disturbed Link Patcher


Disclaimer

This essay does not describe an existing computer program, just one that should exist. This essay is about a suggested student project in Java programming. This essay gives a rough overview of how it might work. I have no source, object, specifications, file layouts or anything else useful to implementing this project. Everything I have prepared to help you is right here.

This project outline is not like the artificial, tidy little problems you are spoon-fed in school, when all the facts you need are included, nothing extraneous is mentioned, the answer is fully specified, along with hints to nudge you toward a single expected canonical solution. This project is much more like the real world of messy problems where it is up to you to fully the define the end point, or a series of ever more difficult versions of this project, and research the information yourself to solve them.

Everything I have to say to help you with this project is written below. I am not prepared to help you implement it; or give you any additional materials. I have too many other projects of my own.

Though I am a programmer by profession, I don’t do people’s homework for them. That just robs them of an education.

You have my full permission to implement this project in any way you please and to keep all the profits from your endeavour.

Please do not email me about this project without reading the disclaimer above.

This project is vaguely related to the HTML broken link finder. This project does not just find broken links, it prevents them from being created in the process of reorganising your website. Every once in a while you want to reorganise your website, usually creating more subdirectories and separating files that were formerly together into different directories. With drag and drop, moving the files about is child’s play. The bullwork comes later fixing all the HREF links to those files to reflect the new directory locations.

I want to automate that process.

Here is how it works. You tell the program the root directory of your website on hard disk. It takes a snapshot of all the file names and where in the directory tree they appeared. You then use whatever tools you want to create new directories, move files around, delete files, add files etc. Then you ask the program to take a second snapshot. It then does its best to guess the old and new name of each file. It creates a file giving old and new name for you to review. If there are any errors (which could only happen if you don’t use unique filenames), you manually correct the old:new list.

Then you turn the utility loose patching all the HREFs. It is not quite as simple as a Funduc Search and Replace. You probably want to generate minimal relative links, e.g. you don’t specify the filename for a link to another place in the same file. You don’t specify the path if source and target are in the same directory. You use ../ if the target is in the mother directory of the source, etc.

You might even post your old:new list so people who have extensive references into your website can automatically update all their links too. This features give this project some great commercial potential. To apply link fixes, other websites will need your utility. It will then occur to them to post their fixes in that format too, in a chain reaction taking over the web. Eventually this may evolve into a global system of instantly updating global links.

To allow for the possibility that you split a file, not just moved it, the old:new list could also contain individual NAME tags so you can track their new locations. This project should integrate with the HTML File Splitter Project.

Microsoft tackled a problem similar to this, creating a distributing a continuously updated table of contents for MSDN using XML (extensible Markup Language).

A 1 Website Analyser
HTML broken link finder
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