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Editing your Sidebar Navigation Menus

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Function of the Navigation Menu File

Before editing the side navigation, it is important to understand its purpose, and basically how it works.

The navigation on the left side of UIW web pages is automatically created as new sections (section example: www.uiw.edu/demo) are created. As each new page is added to a section, an additional line is appended to the bottom of the side navigation with the name of the page added and a link to that page. To locate the menu navigation file(s) for your site(s), go to the Pages list view and look for a file called _nav.inc.

sidebar navigation
Figure 1. Sidebar Navigation
navigation file location in pages list view
Figure 2. Navigation file location in Pages list view.

As new interior sections are created (ex: www.uiw.edu/demo/interior-section), they each have their own _nav.inc file, which only includes the links to files within that section.

interior section navigation menu
Figure 3. Interior section navigation menu
interior section navigation menu location
Figure 4. Interior section navigation menu location (Note: the masked area showing location in site)

The default configuration for the navigation on department sites is to Inherit the parent navigation. That means the navigation that is used on the top-level pages, as well as interior sections, is the same. This makes for easy navigation across any department site.

The navigation is built from the top _nav.inc file, which includes links to pages at that level, as well as to the interior sections. The entries shown within a section are included in the _nav.inc file within that specific section.

Please take into account that when you add new pages, you must re-publish the _nav.inc for that section. If you create a new section, you must publish the _nav.inc for that section, as well as re-publish the one for the parent section, since it would have received a new link to the new sub-section. Read the Create and Publish Sections and Pages instructional for more details.

Reasons to Edit the Navigation Menu

Usually, there are very limited reasons to need to edit the side navigation:

  • Reordering page links
  • Correct spelling or change link text
  • Delete links to pages or sections that no longer exist
  • Add an external link to the menu

You shouldn't have to add an internal link to the side navigation, since they are automatically added as the pages are created unless one is deleted by mistake, or in the process of reordering.

How to Edit a Navigation Menu

As mentioned above, the file to edit is named _nav.inc and there is a separate one for each section (see Figure 4). Click on the filename to edit. You will be shown the contents of the file in the WYSIWYG editor.

navigation menu in WYSIWYG editor
Figure 5. Navigation menu in WYSIWYG editor (simple, bullet list)

There is one important point to remember when editing this file: Do not delete all the contents and expect to be able to recreate yourself! This will cause the file to not work properly.

The file consists of a simple unordered list of HTML entries, with the text linked to the appropriate files or sections. If you click to place your cursor at the end of a line, and press Enter/Return, you will have a new line to add text and then link in the normal manner to your files.

To move an existing link, select all of the text on the line, then drag it to a new blank line.

When finished editing, use the Save icon in the upper left of the WYSIWYG toolbar. Be sure to Publish the _nav.inc file after making any changes.