Building Multi-Story Pages


Story Snippet
Intra-Page Navigation


Pages containing more than one story are necessary for Page One and Page Two and any similar pages. In Wordpress the pages were constructed manually by creating a (very fragile) HTML framework and cutting and pasting content in it appropriately. The HTML framework was complicated to follow, difficult to modify, and generally a maintenance nightmare.

The goal here is to provide a more robust mechanism for creating the more complicated pages that does not require the manipulation of HTML and is much more maintainable. Unfortunately, multi-story pages have a degree of intrinsic complexity that cannot be avoided without making them so rigid that they would often not be suited to purpose.

The approach taken is to create a multi-story page by having a single file that describes the structure of the page with only a minimum of identification of the specific content. Separately, each specific story has an associated single file that provides the information needed to handle one story. This allows stories to be changed by replacing (or adding/deleting) individual stories without affecting other stories on the same page. The result is that a single multi-story page is managed as a file folder (or directory) containing one file for each story and one file for the page itself.

Each file in the folder is described with a widely used "meta-language" called YAML (Yet Another MetaLanguage). A YAML file is basically a means of representing a nested list of items - much like the structure of a file directory or an outline. The formal definition of YAML can be found here; however, we use only a small subset for our purposes.

The easiest way to build YAML files is to duplicate one of the example files such as single story or structured page and modify it. Things to note are the '---' at the beginning and the '...' at the end of the file. Note the indenting to indicate items at the same level and the use of the '- ' (does not occur in single entry file) to indicate a new item in a list. There are a few other special characters that may conflict with our use. There is a nice summary of the Gotchas here. In particular, a colon (:) followed by a space or newline must be enclosed in quotes (generally use double quotes).

Error Log

When the multi_pages command is run, it creates a file in the support directory named multi-pages.txt. This file has any errors or other notices that occurred during the creation of the pages.


Eye-catchers are elements intended to display a picture, a title (or short text) and a link to a story. The objective is to support attractive pages with a minimum of text. The eye-catcher structure takes one of two forms. First, it is almost like a story snippet (below) except that there is no text, thus it has a title followed by a picture followed by a link. Second, instead of the picture being a separate part of the element, it is used as a background image with the text and story link positioned within the boundaries of the picture.

Because of the need to control the positioning of the text and to ensure that it stands out in the picture, there are a number of additional controls needed. Use this example to follow the explanation.


A phrase is either a title or some short description to give the reader a sense of what the story might be about.


This is the fully specified path to the image to be used.


This is the fully specified url for the associated story.


This True or False value specifies whether the picture is to be used as a background image. The default is False.


This is either a single integer specifying the distance from the top of the image to the text or two integers separated with a comma giving the distance from the left and the distance from the top (in that order). The numbers are between 1 and 100 representing the percentage of the picture height or width to the text. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, the percentage of width represents the right edge of the text meaning that text ending in the middle (left to right) of the picture would have a value of 50. For height, it represents the distance above the text which corresponds to your intuition.


Because of the wide variety of possible additional specifications (font color, weight, family, margins, padding, ..........) the style specifier is a means of providing any valid css which is inserted directly in the element. The content is inserted exactly as entered as the value of the style attribute. Again, for technical reasons, the value must be enclosed in quotation marks (else the existence of a ':' causes an error).

Story Snippets

A story snippet is a short entry that can be placed on a multi-story page. It may either be an entire entry or it may be a teaser for a larger entry elsewhere and contain a Read More button linking to the full story. Use this example to follow explanation. The "---", "Entry", "entry_type", and "story" lines should be copied as is.

title, byline, photos

These entries are used to create the actual title, byline, and photo byline for the story. Leave them blank (or remove them) if not needed. Depending on the story, this may cause conflict with things like an HTML title or byline included in the story and need to be accounted for (See "starting_text" below.)


This is the location of the file in the page directory hierarchy for the site. The top level of the site is represented by the folder "pages/". For example, the location of Page One would be "pages/". Note also the (generally) ".md" extension associated with the file.


This is generally copied as is. It is intended to handle the case (not yet implemented) where the editors provide separate specific snippet not taken from the file itself.

starting_text, stopping_text

This is used to select the portion of the file to be used as the snippet. The system performs a search for the starting_text (simple string search, EXACT match required). That identifies the beginning of the content to be used for the snippet. If it is left blank, the content begins at the start of the file. This is often used to avoid things like titles or bylines that are embedded in the document.

Similarly, the system searches for the stopping_text. This is the first text that is NOT included in the snippet. Again, if it is left blank, the snippet continues to the end of the document.

There are a couple of issues that you need to be careful about.

  1. Be careful not to select text (starting_text is particularly bad) that happens to break an HTML expression. For example, if there is a "<div>Now is the time...</div>" and you want the text to begin with the "Now is...", be sure to include the initial "<div>" or the resulting page will have unbalanced structure.
  2. Be careful with initial shortcodes. It is often the case that the story includes a picture as the initial element which would imply that the starting text would begin "{{%singlepic...". This will fail as that creates invalid markdown. The easiest way to avoid this is to insert a "<span/>" (an empty "span", note the forward slash) element in the document before the shortcode and use that as the starting_text. It generates nothing visible in the final document thus leaving the picture as the first thing as intended.

If the snippet is the entire content, use this to prevent the creation of a "Read More" button.


End the file with "..." on the beginning of a line.

Intra-page Navigation

Intra-page navigation is supported for any entry. There are two navigation elements available: target and goback. Note, they are placed in an entry at the same level as entry-type and are independent of one another.


target (note lower case) creates an anchor (HTML "a" tag) indicating the target to which the page may go. All targets accumulate during the building of the page and then displayed at the top of the page allowing the reader to click on any target and be taken directly to that story.

The text following the target is displayed to the user. The navigation goes to the beginning of the containing Entry.


goback is placed after the defining entry, and the text is displayed to create the link. The navigation takes the user back to the top of the page.

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