When you tell your geek friends that you're using FrontPage to create your
Web site, you're likely to get disparaging looks, if not outright howls at your
Web naivet�. The truth is, FrontPage has a tarnished reputation with most Web
professionals. Older versions of the program spat out messy and overloaded HTML
code, which meant that pages would take a long time to load in most Web browsers
or not even load at all. Also, up until now, a FrontPage author couldn't
collaborate on a site with people who used other Web development tools, such as
Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Microsoft has been listening to the complaints and has
actually addressed a lot of old shortcomings in the new version. The 2003
release introduces an HTML cleanup tool that helps alleviate the bloated code
problem, and FrontPage is now on speaking terms with other Web editors.
Here are some of the new features you'll find in FrontPage 2003:
HTML Split view lets you see the visual layout of a page (Design view)
alongside its HTML code (Code view). Viewing both sides of the page
simultaneously like this is a great way to learn HTML. Plus, whenever you
highlight an element in Design view, FrontPage highlights the corresponding
HTML Cleanup is a new and most welcome addition to the program. The
Optimize HTML feature clears out extraneous code created by the program. The
result? Faster page downloads.
Quick Tag Selector displays HTML tags that are active while you're
working in Design view. This handy toolbar saves you the trouble of
switching to Code view and having to search through heaps of HTML. Use it to
select and edit HTML tags with a simple click.
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is a coding language that's a lot like
HTML except it holds data instead of Web page content. In a way, XML is like
an all-text database, which makes it very flexibleno special software
necessary. Not surprisingly, its popularity is growing fast. FrontPage now
recognizes XML as a data source.
Macromedia Flash is now better integrated into FrontPage, which lets you
drag Flash movies directly onto your Web page.
Find and Replace can help you find items within HTML and also do more
complex searches based not only on specific text, but even patterns of text.
Expanded publishing options include the ability to publish via FTP and
Web-DAV. FrontPage publishing worked well only with
Microsoft-compatible Web servers. Thanks to improved FTP options and the
addition of WebDAV, a FrontPage-authored site can now venture out of
Microsoft-land and live on any Web server. (As long as the site is plain
vanilla with no special FrontPage functionalitybut more on that later.) A
side benefit is that FrontPage now works more smoothly with other editors
such as Macromedia's Dreamweaver.
Browser compatibility tools now include the ability to design your pages
for specific browsers and preview them at different screen resolutions.
Layout tables can help you structure and design your page. Microsoft
created this feature as an improvement on the traditional HTML table. Unlike
their predecessors, these new tables give you pixel-precise control over
Dynamic Web Templates feature editable as well as noneditable regions.
In other words, you can limit the damage a colleague might do by granting
rights to edit only certain sections of a page.
Themes are prepackaged visual element collectionslike color, font, and
page backgroundthat let you automatically standardize the look of a site.
FrontPage now applies themes using CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). For
the moment, all you need to know is that CSS helps pages download faster and
Accessibility Checker is a new feature that lets you make sure that
visitors of all abilitiesincluding the visually impairedcan read and use
your Web site. The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the accessibility
standards that FrontPage's checker uses. Since it's difficult to check pages
produced by FrontPage in the W3C's online code validator, this is an
especially welcome addition to the program. .