TechnoFILE is copyright and a registered trademark © ® of
Pandemonium Productions.
All rights reserved.
E-mail us Here!
Start a new site from scratch

Microsoft FrontPage 2000

Still Easy - and Better Than Ever

FrontPage is still one of the best Web site creation tools for people who don't want to learn HTML.

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.

FP2000 integrates 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."

Drag and Drop Navigation structure

FrontPage's management 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 familiar.

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.

Fortunately, themes can also be customized to a certain extent to add a touch of individuality to the conformity.

WYSIWY Page EditingMicrosoft 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.

Microsoft's "reviewer's 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 beat FrontPage.

We still like it. So sue us.


Tell us at TechnoFile what YOU think













Support TechnoFile
via Paypal

TechnoFILE's E-letter
We're pleased to offer
our FREE private,
private E-mail service.
It's the "no brainer"
way to keep informed.

Our Privacy Policy

May 13, 2006