Microsoft FrontPage 2002

By William LaMartin, Editor, Tampa PC Users Group
lamartin@tampabay.rr.com


Microsoft has produced FrontPage 97, 98, 2000 and now 2002. I reviewed FP 98 in our June 1998 newsletter. For the review check online at http://www. tpcug.org/newsletter/june1998/front_page98.htm. I have actually owned all these versions, but didnít use 2000 since it got installed as part of an Office 2000 Premium installation on a computer here that I donít use regularly. And since the new activation of Microsoft products allows you to only install such software on one desktop and one laptop computer, I could then only install it on my laptop. My main computer still had FP 98, which I was fairly content with. I really didnít need most of the new features of 2000 like database connectivity and hover buttons, since I achieved database connectivity using Active Server Pages and VB Script. And I could create hover buttons with one of the many Java scripts that were available on the Internet. Of course, if I had not had such programming options then I would have been more interested.

FrontPage is a program that combines point and click creation of HTML pages in a visual environment where you can simply drop in the things you want along with having the ability to manage your web site. It keeps track of all the details for you-as long as the site you are publishing to is a FrontPage enabled site, something that is fairly standard now at no extra cost. I recall the days of getting everything to my sites using FTP, where I had to keep a list of what files needed to be uploaded and what files needed to be deleted, etc. FrontPage keeps track of such along with checking your site for things like broken links and the typical download time of a page.


TPCUG's main page in FrontPage's page view

What is new in FrontPage 2002? First, I should note that 2000 added hover buttons, database connectivity, the ability to edit more than one page in a web simultaneously and, in fact, to have more than one web open at a time. It also allowed you to work without having server software installed on your computer.

These webs are called disk based webs. Disk based webs (which you will, of course, eventually publish (upload) to a server on the Internet) made life simpler for those who found dealing with the separate server software a bit burdensome. For FP 2002, if you are running Millennium or Windows XP Home you will have to use disk based webs since I know of no server software that will run on these systems and use FrontPage server extensions. It is possible that Windows 98 will support Microsoft Personal Web Server and FrontPage 2002. So if you are serious about FrontPage and want to be able to test out certain components along with Active Server Pages (ASP) on your local machine, you should use FP 2002 on a computer running Windows 2000 or Windows XP Professional, since they both come with Microsoft Internet Information Server (IIS). This was my primary reason for wanting XP Professional as the operating system on my new computer.

So, again, what is new in FrontPage 2002? The interface looks the same as 2000, but now when you have more than one page open for editing, there is a tab for each file that you can easily click on to move back and forth between pages. There is a file upload component which required either a purchase of such a component or very knowledgeable ASP coding ability in the past. You have the new multi-item Office 2002 Clipboard. There are link bars, the ability to insert web content from MSN, MSNBC and Expedia. And there is now a nice Photo Gallery feature. Also there are new items that I have yet to deal with such as: new drawing tools, better Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), integration with SharePoint, and the ability to apply XML formatting to HTML.

One definite improvement is the protection of ASP code within an HTML page. With FP 98, I would use the FP editor to create the visual look of any ASP page, then switch to Note Pad to do the ASP coding-and too bad if I made the mistake of then opening the page in the FrontPage editor and saving it. My ASP code stood a good chance of being ruined.

I like the program. It has served me well over the years, and the new features and improvements make my life easier. I donít use disk based webs but instead use server based webs. Windows XP Pro comes with Microsoft Internet Information Server 5.1 and FP server extensions 2000 (2002 server extensions are a free download).

The way I deal with web development involves the FP program used to create the web pages and manage the resulting web site both locally with IIS running on my local computer and at the hosting site on the Internet. This is the same setup I have used since I started with FrontPage 97. However, back then you had to use web based FrontPage webs and your local web server was the simple Personal Web Server for Win 95. The web server IIS 5.1 that comes with Win 2002 pro is the same software as used by major web hosting companies with the exception that you are limited to at most 10 connections since the software is meant only for testing sites.

My first question on getting my new computer was how to properly transfer all my FrontPage webs on two older computers to this new computer. From reading the FP Usenet newsgroup I knew that simply copying the files over was not correct. This would destroy some of the FP features that made FP so useful. After consulting the newsgroup, I concluded that the proper way to do the transfers was as follows:

On the new computer, in IIS create a new FrontPage Extensions web (a subfolder of the C: folder) of the appropriate name. Open a web in FrontPage on the old computer and publish it over the LAN to the new empty web that was just created on the new computer. This method preserves all the FrontPage settings. I did this for each of the FrontPage managed webs I had on two older computers.

The next step was now to publish these new versions of the webs to their Internet versions at various web hosting companies so everything would be synchronized. I started with smaller webs-ones of just a few megabytes, and it appeared as if FrontPage was sending up all the files. Now this would take a long time for my larger sites consisting of 50 MB - 100 MB. However, when I published the TPCUG site, a 50 MB site, only a few files were sent. And the files sent were ones that I had made some changes in before publishing. So before publishing the other large sites, I made minor changes to a few of the pages before publishing to the Internet. And in all cases only those few files were sent. Note that all the other files were already at the site and FrontPage checks to see if the ones locally are newer and thus need sending. But why did it send all the files for the small sites and just the changed files for the large sites? I donít know, but if changing at least one file will cause it not to send all the files (Each time I had requested the default of sending only changed files) I think I will do that if I ever need to publish from a new computer again.

This new version has made my life a bit easier-once I familiarized myself with IIS (which, of course, is unnecessary if you only work with disk based webs on your local computer).


Hyperlink view of links into and out of the group page

To see some of the features of FrontPage and to use one of them to vote in a mock election go to these two pages I have created:

Http://www.tpcug.org/test/test_2002.htm and Http://www.tpcug.org/test/vote1. u