Microsoft FrontPage 2003

Microsoft FrontPage 2003 – Software Publisher’s Description:

Microsoft FrontPage 2003 review:5 stars (Microsoft FrontPage 2003) – This program is very good. I have created 3 family history web pages with it without any problems. Other programs that I have purchased have had lots of bugs in them that prevented me from creating the pages that I wanted to publish. I bought S.J. Namo first and it was great at first but when I started using it and tried to publish, I found all kinds of problems and bugs and they have no customer service so I uninstalled it from my computer and purchased FrontPage 2003! I wish I had purchased FrontPage 2003 in the beginning and saved a lot of money. One thing that is not included in FrontPage 2003 is an owners manuel. You have to buy it separately and that is another $25. The program is pretty pricey but is well worth the money.

1 stars (What a waste of money) – I bought this pile of garbage and am as mad as hell about it. I bought it to build a web site to publish my photographs in a gallery. I went to all the expense of buying it, spent days and days building the site (which is not as intuitive as you might hope) to finally get a site which looked pretty good from my PC. I published it on the web and then discovered IT DOESN’T DAMN WELL WORK WITH ANY BROWSER OTHER THAN INTERNET EXPLORER. Exchanged phone calls and emails with Microsoft guys in India and the final word – yep, the gallery function doesn’t work with other browsers and there is nothing you can do.

I really feel ripped off.4 stars (Getting better, still not there yet) – I’ve been tempted by each new version of FrontPage because it makes many tedious and complex Web site development tasks very easy to do. All that power to crank out high quality, high function Web sites has lured me to try again and again.

For example, FrontPage generates very attractive Web pages. It comes with a large set of esthetically pleasing style templates, artwork, and fonts. It also has an easy-to-use WYSIWYG editor that allows you to precisely place text and graphic items on the Web page. If you change your mind, it is easy to switch templates and experiment. The FrontPage 2003 page editor is better than ever, and supports all kinds of drag-and-drop items that greatly simplify creating and using Web forms and updating databases.

But FrontPage is not focused on creating individual Web pages; its purpose is to help you build and run Web sites. For simple Web sites, that is good news. It means that someone without much training can quickly design, develop, and publish an attractive Web site. FrontPage 2003 provides many ready-made solutions; you just pick the one closest to your needs, customize it to look the way you want, and plant your flag on the Internet.

Although the template and wizard approach can get you up and running quickly, the FrontPage developers I’ve talked with say that the more complex a Web site is, the harder it is to use templates. Unfortunately, the templates are not customizable and do not scale well. My own experience is that templates make for a great demo, but are not usable for many Web applications.

So if you are going to have to get down and dirty to use FrontPage for non-trivial Web projects, just how good is FrontPage as a Web site programming tool? My conclusion: FrontPage does not want to be a tool; it wants to be the solution. That is the source of my continuing frustration with FrontPage, and it’s why I’ve tried and quit using previous versions. To use FrontPage effectively, you must understand and agree to use the framework of the Web site it generates. If that framework is a good fit for the Web site you want to build, FrontPage is the right product for the job at hand. Just remember that FrontPage is not a tool, it is an architecture and a methodology.

In fairness, I must say that FrontPage 2003 is more flexible, adaptable, and powerful than any previous version. The Microsoft online support is better, and there are some very good free online tutorials. Provided that you have a high-speed Internet connection, you should be quite pleased with all the extra FrontPage documentation and goodies available from the support site.

I found one quirk in FrontPage 2003 that caught me by surprise. Microsoft classifies FrontPage as a member of the Office product family, so to download FrontPage security patches and program fixes, you have to go to the Web site and use the Office update wizard. The quirk is this: if there are any problems with the way Word or Excel are installed on your PC, it can block you from getting FrontPage patches.