A few weeks before I started the final stages of work on the new site, I came across SlickMap CSS. This provided a stylesheet that transforms a nested list — a structured way of presenting the information — into a beautifully rendered graphical layout which makes the information very easy to read. Compare the new sitemap with the one I designed for Lewisham Hospital (still extant at present) and I think there is no doubt that this solution is much better.
Behind the scenes, the sitemap is stored in a simple text file. I use a Python script to read the source file in and to spit out the HTML list embedded in the page. The advantages of this approach are two-fold. Firstly, the text file is easier to read and update than the HTML list. Secondly, I can also use the same file to generate an XML sitelist that is available to Google and other search engines as they keep their records up to date.
It proved to be a relatively complex task to write the Python script but, after some head-scratching and scribbling, I figured out the patterns involved and managed it. I’m glad that I had the flexibility to stretch the time I had originally expected the task to take and acheive the final result.
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