FrontPage is software that allows consumers to design Web sites without an in-depth understanding of mark-up languages such as HTML and XML. The software, an integral component of the Microsoft Office suite, gives users, especially novices, the ability to create, edit and add content to Web sites.FrontPage is designed as a ‘what you see is what you get’ application. It is a well-designed Web page editor, loaded with easy-to-use options and page elements that allow users to create a decent Web site quickly. The application is designed to mimic Microsoft Office in look and feel, allowing users to easily build Web pages with drag-and-drop functionality. With the software installed on a user’s computer, they can quick develop Web documents with elements drawn from other Office documents.
While the software makes the composition of a Web site simple, the down side of the software is that it does not conform strictly to compliant mark-up language standards. As a result, the code that the software generates has been described as bloated. For more control over the creation of Web sites, professionals hence elect to use more advanced Web design software packages.
FrontPage is mainly used by neophytes, but is quite an effective tool to get beginners online and publishing their Web sites. For this reason, the software is quite popular. One of the most powerful aspects built into FrontPage is its site management capability. The same interface that is used to develop Web pages is also used to manage and manipulate those pages online.
As a Web site grows, the content contained within the site can become outdated or inconvenient to update. Keeping up with the changes made to a site and ensuring that Web content is kept current is a time consuming task, often considerably larger than the initial development of the site. The use of FrontPage provides users with the power to easily manage content on a site-wide basis instead of on the level of the individual Web page.
The software provides a high-level view of site architecture. It also provides the capability for direct online integration and deployment of content created by FrontPage through Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions.
FrontPage Server Extensions are the server-side power behind FrontPage that lets the software interacts directly with the Web server. Most sophisticated Web hosting firms offer FrontPage Server Extensions to both their customers and resellers. Server extensions are native to the Windows hosting platform, but are also widely available on Linux hosting platforms. Through the server extensions, users can upload and maintain their Web site directly through the FrontPage application. Web authors can also utilize other innovative features, such as traffic reports that can be generated daily, weekly or month. These reports can track hits, referred domains and search strings. The software also allows Web authors to develop database-driven Web sites. The Database Interface Wizard simplifies the creation of dynamic databases that can interact with the Web site.
The most unique element of FrontPage is its groupware function, known as ‘SharePoint.’ SharePoint is a team Web site solution that allows users to edit straight from their browser. No Web authoring skills are required in order to add and edit content to a SharePoint-based site, which means that everyone within a work group or a broad organization can collaborate on projects, share documents and communicate more effectively.
While FrontPage has always attempted to offer a tremendous number of features, the software really functions as an easy-to-use, simple and straightforward Web authoring tool. For more code-intensive Web authoring, users need to select another package, but FrontPage should suffice for the novice.