- and Better Than Ever
FrontPage is still
one of the best Web site creation tools for people who don't want to learn
The "2000" version
is the easiest yet to learn and use - and the interface has been cleaned
up and streamlined as well.
The most noticeable
change from previous versions is the blending of the "Explorer" and "Editor"
modules into a single entity - a most welcome development.
Though it's always
a leg up to know at least some HTML, FrontPage users can create, maintain,
track, and update Inter-or-Intranet sites without such knowledge. The
program actually lets you write text almost as if you were using MS Word
(or any other Word Processor), while dragging and dropping (or inserting
via toolbar buttons) elements like graphics, tables, and the like, as
if you were using a desktop publishing program.
And there's lots of
new stuff in FP2000 to make the task even less onerous, including the
"no-brainer" addition of dynamic HTML (you can add dancing text with a
couple of mouse clicks) and cascading style sheets.
extremely well with MS Office 2000. In fact, the two share stuff like
themes, toolbars, menus, etc. Office staples like the "Format Painter"
can now be found in FrontPage (this one in particular is a neat touch).
The integration is so complete that, while FrontPage can be bought separately,
it should really be considered as just another Office module. And, depending
upon the version of MS Office 2000 you get, it may actually be included
as "just another Office module."
tools have also been beefed up, including the addition of a baker's dozen
of new management reports to help you keep track of what's what and what
needs to be done. Hyperlinks are automatically updated and/or fixed when
files are renamed now, too.
Despite all the changes,
users of previous versions of FrontPage will be right at home with the
2000 incarnation, since the blended interface is not only easier, but
Microsoft now includes
over 60 themes for your Web site. These are looks that can be applied
to your site that give it a consistent appearance across all its pages.
Themes can be a nice touch, but we'd advise using them sparingly lest
your site take on the appearance of of a thousand other FP-produced sites
that use the same theme.
can also be customized to a certain extent to add a touch of individuality
to the conformity.
says FrontPage now imports HTML documents created in other applications
without modifying their code. This is welcome, but FrontPage still insists
on adding a "META" tag proclaiming to Search engines and the HTML savvy
that it was the producer of the document in question if the page was actually
created in FP. I can understand why Microsoft would do this, but that
doesn't mean I have to like it.
Laying out a page
is usually child's play with FP, though as mentioned above it's always
best to know some HTML for those inevitable times when what you see isn't
what you get. Part of the reason for this is HTML itself, which doesn't
really lend itself to being dragged and dropped - and every other WYSIWYG
Web design app I've tried has the same problem to varying degrees.
As with previous versions
of FrontPage, there's a price to be paid for having the application take
so much of the worry from your shoulders. FP adds numerous directories
and files other apps don't - files I believe are related to the "Front
Page extensions" required to operate and manage the site, as well as make
possible such interactive features as search engines and feedback forms.
And your ISP (Internet
Service Provider) must have FP2000 extensions installed at the remote
end for these interactive components to work. TechnoFILE's ISP has had
the extensions installed for FP98, but claimed there's a difference in
the 2000 extensions that prevented them from working on its UNIX server.
These problems will undoubtedly be solved, but at the time of this writing
they weren't - so you'd best check with your ISP if you're planning to
use such features on your site.
If you're only going
to use regular HTML pages, with no forms, search engines or the like,
FP works just fine.
guide" says your ISP doesn't need the servers installed, thanks to FrontPage's
built in FTP. It says "ISP's can host...sites on Microsoft Windows NT
and a broad variety of UNIX platforms and operating systems." Perhaps,
but our experience showed otherwise - though our ISP may just happen to
have a UNIX system that isn't part of the MS-supported "broad variety."
Which means we couldn't
check neat FP-created things like its "discussion group" web - which we
dearly wanted to try in action. We created the web and uploaded it (it
was a piece of cake!), but it wouldn't function.
I learned to create
HTML documents with a text editor - and am eternally grateful to FrontPage
and its competition (check out our reviews of Dreamweaver and Hot
Metal Pro) for taking most of the tedious coding out of the Web site
creation process. None of these apps are perfect and, as mentioned, you're
still best to know some HTML, but they're a great help.
FrontPage is no longer
my WYSIWYG Web Wielder of first choice - for a variety of reasons that
mostly deal with freedom and flexibility in uploading and site maintenance
- but I still find myself returning to it often. Usually this is when
I'm faced with creating something that's either very complicated (and
for which I can't be bothered expending a lot of skull sweat) or something
created for a customer who isn't concerned about elegant simplicity of
HTML design but who wants lots of razzle dazzle (that I'm not willing
to learn from scratch).
Which makes FrontPage
2000 a most useful tool, indeed. And for those looking for the easiest,
least painful way of creating a powerful Web site, you probably can't
We still like it.
So sue us.
Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think