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Why is Frontpage so bad?

Posted on 2001-08-15
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Last Modified: 2013-12-16
I've read numerous times not to use Frontpage.  Can't understand exactly why.  I've used Frontpage for years, and GoLive lately for web design and Visual InterDev for ASP development with much success.

What am I missing?

Don L.
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Question by:lauciricad
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a.marsh earned 50 total points
ID: 6390079
A lot of it depends on what you are delveoping for.

Frontpage can be particularly good when your page only has to work with Internet Explorer and if you use some the more "advanced" features, your webserver supports Frontpage extensions.

However you generally run in to problems when you want a site that is cross-browser compatible and/or you use a server that doesn't support Frontpage extensions.

It can often put "extra" code in that actually hinders you rather than help.

My personal view is that a WYSIWYG development tool is only as good as the person using it and unfortunately a lot of people tend to use these tools knowing little or nothing about the core areas such as HTML, CSS etc.

For beginners I think Frontpage is great, but to serious web developers it is not up to the standard required and hence gets a lot of bad press.

Personally, even after 6 years in web development, I don't use anything more than a text editor!

Hope this helps.

Ant
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Author Comment

by:lauciricad
ID: 6390107
a.marsh,

Agreed on all counts so far.  I understand it's limitations and compensate for the requirements imposed on the webserver, but I still don't understand the "hate-mail".

Anybody else?

Don L.
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Author Comment

by:lauciricad
ID: 6390108
a.marsh,

Agreed on all counts so far.  I understand it's limitations and compensate for the requirements imposed on the webserver, but I still don't understand the "hate-mail".

Anybody else?

Don L.
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by:cheekycj
ID: 6390117
I agree with Ant.

FP generates a lot of IE specific code and alot of unecessary code so it fattens your html while not making it non-cross browser code.

Besides the fact that putting your own Script code is such a pain in the a** because FP doesn't like that.

FP has some great plusses too.. Its web site management tools are good.

Plus a lot of the bells and whistles that FP offers (like form submissions, etc) are handled by scripts/bots that are specific to FP so your hosting environment needs to have FP Extensions installed for it to work properly.

CJ
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by:a.marsh
ID: 6390158
To be perfectly honest I believe a lot of the "hate-mail" as you call it is more to do with the fact that Frontpage is a Microsoft product rather than to do with Frontpage itself.

Another thing is that, like many other products, Frontpage has evolved over time and although now it is improved, in the past it has been considerably worse at it's job and it has not fully "shrugged off" that reputation.

Internet Explorer 2 was very poor - but Microsoft ploughed lots of energy in to it and I have to say it is the best browser around (although Opera is certainly impressing me on Linux). Perhaps eventually they'll do the same with Frontpage?

:o)

Ant

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by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 6390176
Most of the "hate-mail" is cause by those of us who have to try and make the trash code usable in after it has been generated by Frontpage.

I don't even try to fix them anymore I just do a screen shot, extract the innertext and putin correct markup.  It is quicker than trying to figure out how much of the trash you have to keep.

Its alright for amateurs, but for serious site development it has a negative impact on productivity.  A tool for secretaries and marketing reps that want a quick page.  

I use a straight text editor and with all the widgets , and scripts I have on my HD, I can have page prototype in less time than any wysiwyg that I have seen.

Cd&
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by:james_beilby
ID: 6390520
Plus FrontPage Extensions are notoriously flawed when it comes to security. There's that damned _vti_inf.html file, public access to directory listings, shtml.exe exploits, and the available *.pwd files. Lots of extra hassle for site admins. Keep well clear.

Of course, there was FrontPage Express too... |?)
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by:webwoman
ID: 6392155
I have no complaint with any tool that's used by someone who knows its limitations and how to work around them, and understands what it does and how.

The problem with ALL the WYSI(N)WYG editors is that for the most part, the people using them have absolutely NO CLUE what happens behind the scenes. They don't look at the code and wouldn't understand it if they did, aren't thinking about maintenance, don't understand what parts DON'T work, etc. So they generated this nice (to them) page, and put it on the server and... get deluged with complaints because the graphics don't show up, the forms don't work, half the page doesn't show up in Netscape, etc., etc., etc... and they're completely, totally, absolutely clueless as to why it happened or how to fix it. If they DO try to fix it, they spend 20 times longer because they don't work with the code and don't know that moving one line or adding a few tags might fix it...

Not to mention that the code is so bloated with crap that it's a nightmare...and NONE of the WYSI(N)WYG tools cleans up after itself. They leave bits of code all over.  

We all see it all the time...
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6392332
Naturally, I have to jump in on this one. ;-)

I totally agree that any WYSIWYG is only as good as the person using it.  The problem I see DAILY with FP is that it is touted as a program with which ANYONE can make a professional looking site....just look at the box.  All beautiful screenshots and great looking sites.  The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) industry is growing so rapidly that anyone thinks they can save a few $$$ and still get great results.

When I am teaching FrontPage, the first thing I explain to my students is that this piece of software is like a car.  Sure, you can get behind the wheel and get somewhere.  However if you do not have directions it may take you longer than you expect and you may get lost.  Also, if you don't know the basics, like how to change a tire or fill up with gas, you're going to run into trouble - eventually.

When I was learning to drive, one of the things they insisted we know was the basics of how the engine worked.  This is similar to knowing the structure of HTML.  You also had to learn the rules of the road.  What would happen if you drove on the right side of the road in England?  Crash, bang, boom!

Not everyone needs to be a "class-A" mechanic to create a website, but knowing where the washer-fluid goes and how to parallel park will take you a far cry farther than ignorance.

That being said (have I taken this analogy far enough), there will always be drivers who know nothing about the car and rely on the Auto Club to fix any disasters they come across.  Those are the kind of WYSIWYG users we often see in here.  And (Experts..take note) telling them that the tool is the problem does NOTHING to help them out.  That is like telling someone who runs the car with no oil that if they hadn't bought a Ford this wouldn't have happened.  Instead of trashing FP all the time, we need to turn our focus to helping the users work around the inherent bugs (we all know what they are) rather than making them feel like idiots for choosing the wrong too.  Many of them had little or no choice.

Remember, M$ has packaged FP with versions of Office....you are only going to see more of the DIY's, not less.

<End of Rant.....just my 2c>
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by:james_beilby
ID: 6392335
> they're completely, totally, absolutely clueless as to why it happened or how to fix it

but then it gives us something to do |-)
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by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 6392336
>>>We all see it all the time...

Which is another reason I hate it, because when it doesn't work right or they want to add something it can't do.  We get "please fix my page" questions with a ton of trash code.

Cd&
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by:a.marsh
ID: 6392352
Very nice Classy, I'm impressed. :o)

Ant
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6392384
Thanks Ant....not bad for only one cup of coffee  ;-)
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by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 6392484
Of course if you are the top-expert in the FP TA, you have to hold your nose and justify its existence, though you know in your heart the Internet would be better without  it. :^P

Cd&

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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6392539
LOL!  If only that were true.  90% of the FP q's end up being about ASP.  As in, the FP wizard won't do <insert normal function here>.  How can I make it do what I want?  FP would be much easier to work around if M$ would scrap all the "wizards" and instead include real code snipits.  Forget all this ASP stuff it tries to write.  The user cannot alter it, so again, your site ends up looking just like everyone else's.  The FP Hover Buttons are a nightmare!  The haven't changed the code since I started back in 96 (and even then I used "Liquid Motion" <remember that one?> for hovers)!
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IT, Stop Being Called Into Every Meeting

Highfive is so simple that setting up every meeting room takes just minutes and every employee will be able to start or join a call from any room with ease. Never be called into a meeting just to get it started again. This is how video conferencing should work!

 
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by:webwoman
ID: 6393022
FWIW, I see the same thing happening with Dreamweaver, GoLive, and any other graphic oriented tool.

It's more like graphic design in general -- Just because Word can 'do' a tri-fold brochure doesn't mean that it's the 'best' tool to do one in. If you want it to look polished, professional, and have it commercially printed -- you sure don't use Word. Or have your secretary do it. ;-) However, if it's a fast, down and dirty map to your seminar with some copy blurbs, and you're going to take it to Kinko's to have photocopied -- Word works.

Same with FP -- if you're putting up a simple site that falls within the wizards, and you like the supplied formats, it works. The problem comes when you want to put in all the fancy effects, databases, etc. And that's when the others fall apart too -- not because of the tool, but because the user doesn't realize that the tool doesn't clean up after you take out things, requires certain things on the server, etc...

Just like that poor secretary doing the tri-fold brochure doesn't realize that web graphics don't print well, tri-folds aren't 3 panels of exactly the same size, and the printer needs a grabber edge... ;-)
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Author Comment

by:lauciricad
ID: 6393089
ALCON,

I appreciate all your responses.  As a DIY'er I've used many of your suggestions in the past, and appreciate your expertise and expert's exchange for this forum.

I am going to leave this question open, for further comments.

I will post this question and fifty points each for:

a.marsh
Webwoman
ClassyLinks
COBALDinosaur
James Beilby; (Where can I find out more about the security problems you mentioned.)
Cheekyci

Cheers.

Don L.
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6393093
Exactly WW.

I have both FP & DW on my production machine.  Although the code DW produces is "sometimes" cleaner, the interface (IMHO) is much less intuitive.  Therefore we see less people using it who need a quick fix.  The problem is, when a person creates the quick fix site, they say, "Hey now I can design web sites!".  That is the illusion that gets them into trouble.

The way I see it, it is the difference between "I can design web sites" and "I can design web sites with a WYSIWYG".
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by:dij8
ID: 6394199
A bit late on this one but I'll add my opinion anyway.  Firstly though I'll say I mostly agree with most of what has been said by most of the experts.

The only thing I think has been left out is what a WYSI(N)WYG is all about.  Which applies to them all.  Just varying degrees.  And that is they are visual and are about making a site LOOK like what you want.  Not DO what you want.  This by their very nature makes them a design tool and not a development tool.  Because cross-browser development is natoriously difficult and MUST be done at a code level WYSI(N)WYG are not going to achieve a universal look.  Which is what they are designed to do but never can.  To further ClassyLinks analogy, it's like trying to race a car on a dirt bike track.  Sure it can be done but it won't be pretty.  The varying degrees part is the level at which they can do this.  And the code they generate to achieve it.

FrontPage tends to be at the bottom end of capable.  The only things that are worse are the other MS Office products that pretend they can export their document into HTML.  For this reason you will always get code-only-developers flaming FP and designers either saying it is OK or suggesting DreamWeaver instead.
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by:kikkertm
ID: 6397229
I can use this thread to explain to my users why NOT to use FP, Excellent, Thanks guys !

Mike.
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6398090
I disagree kikkertm.....you can use this thread to explain to your users that using a WYSIWYG is not enough.  In reality, no matter what editor they choose they NEED TO KNOW at least BASIC HTML.
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by:kikkertm
ID: 6398220
Fair comment, What I want to do however is try to convince the business that the content editors should go on an HTML course instead of using Frontpage so at least they know what they're doing and they will be able to maintain their own code ! (my content editors do not even know the difference between absolute and relative links, which gives me loads of troubles).

That's why I made the remark.
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6398275
Point taken.  Without HTML, FP is like letting a blind person drive....sooner or later they're going to bump into something.

<no offense meant to our visually challenged colleagues>
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by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 6398432
Great thread.  :^)

Cd&
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by:ClassyLinks
ID: 6398460
Wait...let me rephrase that.....

Without HTML, ANY WYSIWYG EDITOR is like letting a blind person drive....sooner or later they're going
to bump into something.

;-)
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by:KAbbott
ID: 6405580
Well, after reading all your comments I myself think that the only WYSIWYG that I will only use would have to be Dreamweaver.

I've only ever used FP (express) very briefly and I didn't like it that much.  Positioning in FP is rubbish (Dreamweaver uses layers), cross browser code (4.0 browsers and above) thats created with DW is good.

I'm current using DW Ultradev 4 to also create my database connections which is sooo simple to use.  Theres a clean-up HTML function, easy to add javascript, extra html (doesn't change what you've entered).

To me, anyway, its' ermmm..... a DREAM!  The comments above are right as you DO need to know at least the basics of HTML, and as I'm using Ultradev I also need to know ASP, but I never find a problem with using DW.
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by:webwoman
ID: 6407331
One other thing about DW... if you've got missing or crossed tags, it will point them out to you, but not change them. It will display SSI files in the proper place and format (which is a huge help).

Layers for positioning can be a good thing or a bad thing. Good if you know what you're doing, bad when you don't -- and it can be horrid if it needs to print. ;-)
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by:a.marsh
ID: 6573924
This question has been open for some time and is now in need of wrapping up.

Please DO NOT accept this comment as the answer to the question, it is purely an alert to the fact that this question is still open.

It would be greatly appreciated if any of the participants could comment back here in order to give assistance in what the status of this question is and what should be done with it (delete, 0 PAQ, award points etc.).

Kindest Regards

Ant
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by:COBOLdinosaur
ID: 6574048
An opinion thread for not many points, a split? Lot of work for the mod.  We ban these kinds of question from users who are too lazy to manage them.

Cd&
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Author Comment

by:lauciricad
ID: 6574185
a.Marsh and COBOL Dinosaur:

I will close out this question.

Note: I dealt out 300 points for this question including 50 points to the both of you!!

Ref: Above, and below.

Don L.

ALCON,

I appreciate all your responses.  As a DIY'er I've used many of your suggestions in the past, and appreciate
your expertise and expert's exchange for this forum.

I am going to leave this question open, for further comments.

I will post this question and fifty points each for:

a.marsh
Webwoman
ClassyLinks
COBALDinosaur
James Beilby; (Where can I find out more about the security problems you mentioned.)
Cheekyci

Cheers.

Don L.
0

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