I've encountered a lot of discount web developers who use FrontPage seemingly exclusively. There are a lot of negative reviews of this tool here on E2, so, in case you're comparing tools, here's a list of problems with FrontPage.

  • First, there is the stability problem. No webmaster in his right mind wants to introduce new ways for a web server to bomb out, especially when they're serving on Windows already. The FrontPage Extensions that make all the features (bots) work will crash - they just will. And then you won't be able to edit and you won't be able to use any of the features until you use the typical MS fix - reinstall them - at the server.
  • FrontPage allows you to automate a lot of things you shouldn't need to if you're going to be a real life developer, like rollover buttons and stuff. However, instead of using something logical like JavaScript to do this, if generates a Java class, which is slower to load, stylistically inhibiting and harder to use in the long run.
  • FrontPage is a Microsoft tool, and suffers from the Microsoft mindset. In other words, it assumes that your user will never be using Netscape or any other browser except Explorer. It's hard to believe, but there really are developers who develop in FrontPage and preview in IE!
  • FrontPage loves to organize your code for you. It's like when you lived with your folks and your mom cleaned your room and threw away your porno mags and moved everything so it took you two hours to find your Sound Garden CD. ASP gets shoved all over the place - anything you wanted processed before the output began gets shoved below the first few html tags killing cookies and session writes, and good luck making a page with dynamically generated content!
  • And speaking of moving code, try lining up images in FrontPage and keeping all your hair. You'll be sorry! Get it all lined up and hit save and watch it all jump around the screen!
  • And what if you're working on large files remotely? You don't get to choose when your work gets uploaded - because it gets uploaded every time you save! No difference to some people, but, I admit it, I'm often developing over a 56K modem line. Lots of time to smoke, not much time to work.
  • I've heard people praise the table editor, even here on E2. Hogwash - go use Dreamweaver or hurk learn to write the code for yourself. I often have to erase my table and start over a couple of times before I lay it all out right and make it work - and this is not my fault.

In fairness, I'll give you what I can see as possible positive points - it allows you to develop without really knowing how, and it does handle frames will, if you're dumb enough to use frames.

If, on the other hand, you're developing pages for a lot of small businesses and totally ignorant firms (like, say, CPA's), it's useful to have something totally moronic and idiotic like Frontpage to use, because then when they start trying to edit it on their own, it's either idiot proof enough that they can't mess it up, or, more likely, so insanely fucked up that they're absolutely have to hang on to your services.

The fact that many of these companies don't know that anything outside of Microsoft is extremely helpful in this, and in fact, any insistence on your part that they move to a different platform or way of doing things will often be greeted with extreme hostility.

I think it is important to mention that there are two components of FrontPage, a the web editing and management IDE, and then there are the server extensions. What's the difference?

The FrontPage editing environment is a fairly poor editing IDE when you compare to other options for professional development in the industry (GoLive and Dreamweaver come to mind as being far superior). It is very depreciated in the Microsoft Office suite with the onset of (slowly improving) HTML output quality across all of the applications. It allows you to manage a web site, veryify it's syntax, and publish across many web pages. There is another similar program from Microsoft in Visual Interdev, which is geared towards the code side of things. FrontPage is supposed to be a quick and dirty web solution with pre-hashed web objects and such to make a new web page (such as counters, or message boards).

The other component to the web system are the FrontPage Server Extensions, an add-on to IIS. This is HUGE for IIS web developers on a debugging (non-live) site, so that they can see the output of the code engines. Seeing an http error code 500 spit out of your page every time does not aid in debugging at all. It allows you to publish directly to that web site, and have finer tuning on the publishing mechanism (and you don't even need to do it from FrontPage). FrontPage server extensions are also available for Apache. I use these for my ASP page development, even though I loathe the Office Family member associated primarily with them.

I designed a site using FrontPage. It isn't that bad for making simple HTML. I mean HTML that doesn't have tables and sometimes even frames. That's about how far you should go with this program. Dynamic content barely exists.

Take my word for it on this one. Or even better look at the site I did. http://www.bethlehemassoc.org/

The only good thing I noticed and sort of appreciated was the HTML editing environment. It colorcodes everything which is a nice feature but is available in most linux text editors. Also you can't change the colors to ones you want to use.

Also FrontPage opens your web server up to many exploits. If you run the package Personal Web Server you are positioning yourself to be royally fucked by some script kiddie. If you install the server extensions on IIS then you better make sure it's watertight. I remember I found a security hole in a reasonably large design company's web server. It was the fault of FrontPage. Unless you are some kind of masochist stay away.

Microsoft's site doesn't even use FrontPage. If it really was good they'd use it. Only their FrontPage info site uses it. I wonder why.

If you need to get a site up quickly FrontPage is good for that. If you want to maintain the site after that ... learn HTML and open a text editor.

I am currently developing web applications in the Microsoft arena. While the FrontPage Server Extensions do help with posting code to the server I use Microsoft’s real web development tool InterDev and edit the source directly.

The FrontPage editor and management tools were designed as a quick and easy fix(Microsoft actually bought FrontPage) to let novice users publish web content. It was not designed for large scale web applications.

I had a client that once took over an extensive web application because he felt that he would be better at maintaining the code himself. He downloaded the site using FrontPage, modified some of the code and uploaded the site. This broke the entire site because the system was not a static site but a large web application using ASP’s.

This is my largest complaint with FrontPage. It trivializes my job and promotes user ignorance. By making it SO easy to create a simple web site that has some ‘neato’ functionality people assume that the larger sites function the same way. While many will admit some sites are held together with bubblegum and faith they still require considerable talent and skill to build.

FrontPage is good for the novice putting a personal page on the web but NEVER ever for the large website.
FrontPage is Microsoft's website development software package that allows users to create and set up their own websites either on a server they have actual access to or on a server that only allows them to upload content (such as commercial ISPs). The program resembles Microsoft Word as far as editing goes and includes the toolbars from the word processor. The software comes with Microsoft's FrontPage Extensions package which allows websites created in FrontPage to do special things, such as hit counters, search engines of the website, and other things. Using these extensions is optional, as FrontPage is more than capable of churning out stand-alone web pages that can be uploaded via FTP at a later time. The software is considered a part of the Microsoft Office family, although the two are not sold in the same package. FrontPage sells for around $250 off the shelf, but like most Microsoft programs it's available under academic and corporate licenses which enable the buyer to pick up a nice discount.

The first version of FrontPage arrived as FrontPage 97 for the Microsoft Windows platform. Many users despised this version as it naturally assumed that it knew more about web development than everyone else and would tweak and rewrite HTML to a format that it thought was better. As such, it would often steamroll over any type of HTML that it didn't understand. The software also assumed that the only web browser anybody would be using to view the website under construction was Microsoft Internet Explorer (which, of course, is a required part of the software). Therefore any web content inserted into the pages that was not understood by IE was scrapped automatically. The scaled-down freebie version of the software, FrontPage Express, suffered from the same problems. Microsoft heard the complaints from users of the software and introduced an upgrade to the program, FrontPage 98, a year later. This new version added some bugfixes and a new interface which divided the program into two parts, Editor (for working on pages) and Explorer (for uploading and organizing them), but the core underlying problems still remained. Web components in these versions include roll-over buttons, (easily broken) search engines, hit counters, mailto functionality (yes, FrontPage actually would rather you use its own built-in mail CGI than the "mailto:" tag). A Macintosh version, FrontPage 99 also exists.

Microsoft went back to the drawing board for the next version of the program, FrontPage 2000, and seemed to actually listen to the users this time. The program no longer replaced outright sections of HTML, although it could learn your styling of creating pages and "correct" any mistakes you might make with what it thought you should have typed. This feature can be disabled, however. The new interface from FrontPage 98 was also scrapped and replaced with a single Editor (which split in the editing window into three sections: "Normal" for a Microsoft Wordish interface, "HTML" for a plain spot to type in HTML, and "Preview" for checking new pages in IE), although one new feature of this version was the ability to generate reports on design and usage of the website to point out broken links and unlinked content. Unfortunately Microsoft required that the server running the FrontPage Extensions be running Windows 2000 or Windows XP in order to generate these usage reports. Attempting to generate usage reports under Windows NT resulted in a "please upgrade" error message. This version of the software also introduced the required online registration that was introduced with all of the Microsoft Office 2000 products, plus it began allowing use of mailto and the ability to save files directly to the server without having to upload them separately later (although, of course, doing so is still possible).

FrontPage 2002 is the latest version of the software as of this writing and is considered part of the Microsoft Office XP family (despite it not carrying the XP name). It builds upon FrontPage 2000 and adds the ability to create vector graphics right in the editor itself. New web components include the ability to place links on one's website to access content from Expedia and MSNBC. Like its predecessor the user can tell it to leave all the HTML alone and not mess with it.

Web designers have argued for years on the merits of FrontPage. Some consider it a great tool with many uses, while others consider it the spawn of Satan himself. Like all software, FrontPage is only as useful and helpful as we want it to be. Don't buy into all the negative hype: it is possible to build and maintain a website with FrontPage. As a web designer who has had to squeeze all the usefulness out of the FrontPage family ever since FrontPage 97, I've learned that the software can be tweaked and cajoled into turning out useful output.

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