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Introduction: A Better FrontPage

Introduction: A Better FrontPage

Why This Is the Only FrontPage 2003 Book You Need

As the authors of this book, we consider FrontPage 2003 to be an incredible product. We are not technical writers hired to quickly produce a complementary text before a piece of software goes to market: We all have a long history with the product and are thrilled to share our passion as we examine why FrontPage 2003 is a better FrontPage than ever before and show you how to push it to its full potential.

We are thrilled to work on this project because it gives us the ability to both share our experiences with FrontPage and Web design while teaching others about the latest features that come with this new release. Expect real-world examples and teaching in this book from experts who have been working with FrontPage in the real world for a combined total of more than 20 years.

The goal of this short introduction is to quickly explain why FrontPage 2003 is such an important upgrade, examine where FrontPage came from, and touch on the competition and how FrontPage interacts with it. We'll also mention briefly where each of the authors come from so that you can understand what we bring to this project.

If you are a straight to the facts kind of person, go ahead and skip to Chapter 1, “What's New in FrontPge 2003,” where we examine what's new in FrontPage 2003.

FrontPage 2003: A Major Upgrade

In the software industry, there are different kinds of upgrades: There is the incremental upgrade, where only minor changes are made and major upgrades that result in major changes in form and functionality to the product. Previously, the only major upgrade for FrontPage was FrontPage 2000. FrontPage 2003 is only the second major upgrade to the popular Web design product.

While the release of FrontPage 2003 happens in parallel with the release of the entire Microsoft Office 2003 System, the differences between this version of the product and previous versions is considerably more significant than any of the other products introduced in this upgrade cycle.

To simply call FrontPage 2003 a major upgrade and to say that it is “better” than previous versions of the product is to understate the tremendous changes in form and functionality. Most of the complaints of existing users of FrontPage and other Web design products have been answered very well: Previous FrontPage users are responding to the 2003 release with “it's about time,” and users of other products are simply saying “Wow!”

My History with FrontPage

I first created my Web site, FrontPageWorld.com on FrontPage 97 and have been updating it with new features as new versions of FrontPage were released. The goal of this site has always been to show users what FrontPage can do by showing them a site built and updated with FrontPage.

With this release I found that the old site couldn't reflect the power afforded to me by FrontPage 2003 and am completely redoing it based on what this new release finally makes possible. By the time this book is released, the new site will be in place. If you want to see where the site “came from,” check out http://frontpageworldarchive.frontpagelink.com/.

You might want to consider what the new features provided by FrontPage 2003 mean to any existing Web sites you currently maintain.

In addition to the changes made to the product, FrontPage 2003 makes great strides in taking FrontPage toward to what Microsoft, and many others, consider to be the future of Web design.

A Short History of FrontPage

If you are new to FrontPage (and this version will be bringing a lot of new users), a short history of FrontPage and its reputation in the Web design industry are in order.

Unlike the other Office products, Microsoft didn't write or design FrontPage but bought FrontPage from the software startup Vermeer Technologies in 1995. The original version of FrontPage introduced a then radical approach to content design and management that is still seen in the product today.

After the acquisition, Microsoft quickly launched its version of the product (in just a few months) with a lot of code from the old Vermeer version and only recently began to truly make the product its own. Because it was purchased from a third party and released so quickly, FrontPage carried a lot of programmatic baggage that finally seems to be eliminated from the program with this release.


If you want to read a truly fascinating book on the story behind Microsoft's purchase of FrontPage, I must recommend Charles H. Ferguson's High Stakes, No Prisoners: A Winner's Tale of Greed and Glory in the Internet Wars. FrontPage didn't come to Microsoft without a fight, and the cast of characters that made it all happen, and prevented other things from happening, makes for my favorite read from the dot-com gold rush that seems but a memory now.

FrontPage was, from the very beginning, a different kind of Web design product because it approached Web design from a management standpoint and saw things in terms of how the pages and content related and reacted to each other—not just how the pages were made. It also attempted to eliminate a lot of the more complicated server-side issues in Web design with the FrontPage Extension part of the product. The FrontPage Extensions interacted with different Web servers without requiring the developer to have skills in that area, allowing developers to perform server-side tasks (such as sending form data to email, a database, or another file).

The combination of a holistic approach to Web design and the ability for server-side capabilities without programming encouraged many Web designers to embrace FrontPage as their product of choice.

In order to maintain and manage the site on a server-wide basis, FrontPage previously edited Web page code in such a way that often frustrated users. This is no longer a problem because the HTML produced by FrontPage 2003 is as “clean” as can be and will satisfy even the most steadfast of the clean code club.

FrontPage and the Competition

Historically, competing Web design products seem to fall into different camps with different software groups under different software companies. The one thing that many of them had in common was the fact that previous versions of FrontPage didn't interact well with them at all.

More often than not, the multimedia enthusiast tends to work with the Macromedia line of products (Dreamweaver, Flash, and son on), those with an emphasis on graphics lean toward Adobe's offerings (PhotoShop, GoLive, and so on), and the open source movement regularly stays away from anything with a price tag.

It should be no surprise that those familiar and comfortable with the Microsoft product line often find themselves using FrontPage because it integrated so tightly with other Microsoft products. It should also be of no surprise that users looking to interact with other platforms looked other places for their Web development tools.

This division of users and allegiances is quickly going to change. FrontPage now integrates very tightly with non-Microsoft Web design products, multimedia and graphics systems, and any scripting language in existence, making it a much more compatible product with the competition. In addition, FrontPage 2003 also has a considerably smaller price tag than any of the products (with a price tag) mentioned previously.

In addition, FrontPage has historically been seen by many as a “beginners'” product that wasn't capable of doing serious Web design. “Real” developers used the other products and left amateurs to FrontPage.

Is FrontPage for “Professionals?”

I've always felt that the “pros” were the ones who got the job done the right way as quickly as possible, whatever the product. I have never been one for judging the quality of a product by how complicated it makes things.

This is why I've been such a big fan of FrontPage over the other products: FrontPage allowed me do what I wanted to do faster than any other product ever did. FrontPage 2003 is the same, only faster.

If you like the “under the hood” stuff or charge by the hour, FrontPage might not be the product for you. If you're looking to get the job done right, keep reading.

Historically, other Web design products have prided themselves in being powerful tools that didn't interfere with the code or content the developer might try to create. Fans of these products also frequently criticized FrontPage's legacy of bloated code and integration only with other Microsoft products. FrontPage 2003 now produces code as clean as any other product and integrates easily with its competitors.

FrontPage is not only in a place to meet the competition; it can also work with it in ways that will surprise many.

The Future of Web Design

Web design is no longer simply about designing attractive Web pages that link to each other. Dynamic content, user collaboration, database integration, diverse content management, and server- and client-side scripting make up a world that can't be contained on a simple Web page or site. Web pages, sites, and users all communicate with each other in ways few could have guessed a few years back—let alone at the introduction of a piece of software from a company called Vermeer.

Microsoft obviously has some ideas about where things are heading. The press about its .NET focus continues, and a chunk of this book is dedicated to the integration of FrontPage with Windows SharePoint Services, a new server technology considered by Microsoft to be the future of Web content.

FrontPage 2003 is positioned to work with all these elements integrating tightly with the best Microsoft has to offer. In addition, it finally provides the tools to communicate with any other Internet authoring product or technology assisting you, the user, in the process of developing your most powerful Web site yet. We'll examine how to make that happen as well.

FrontPage 2003 is the future of Web design. We'll show you how—and why.

Meet Your Authors

Before we tell you exactly what's new with FrontPage 2003, I wanted to introduce you to the authors of this book. We want you to know where we are coming from as we take you on this 1,200 page journey.

  • Jim Cheshire is best known for founding and operating Jimco Add-ins, the most well-known source for FrontPage add-ins and utilities on the Internet. Jim is a regular contributor to Microsoft's MSDN Office Developer Web site and has been featured in other well-known publications such as PC Magazine. He remains a huge fan of FrontPage, and the authoring of this book has reminded him why. Expect to see new add-ins at his site based on what he uncovered as he wrote this book. You can visit his Web site at http://www.jimcoaddins.com.

  • Paul Colligan's site, FrontPage World, is the Internet's most visited site specifically about Microsoft FrontPage. The traffic FrontPage World sees enables Paul to interact with tens of thousands of FrontPage users a month to understand their needs in working with the product. Paul writes a number of FrontPage related newsletters and has coauthored numerous other books on FrontPage. Paul was awarded MVP status from Microsoft in 2002 and remains one of the world's biggest FrontPage fans. FrontPage is how Paul makes his living, so he brings a real-world element to this book you don't often see in tomes of this nature. Visit FrontPage World at http://www.frontpageworld.com.

How This Book Is Organized

The structure of this book was the result of a very well thought out process that came not only from our experience as authors but also through input from other professionals in the FrontPage community. We are certain that you'll find everything within FrontPage has been covered and even some things outside of FrontPage that are integral to the Web development process. Anytime we mention something that is beyond the scope of this book but is important for general knowledge, we've done our best to direct you to other sources for additional information if you find that you need it.

What This Book Covers

Here's a guide to the main sections of this book and the content covered in each section:

  • Part I, “FrontPage 2003: An Overview”— Get an overview of the different elements of FrontPage 2003 and how they all come together to produce a complete Web design package. Learn what's new with FrontPage 2003 and take a tour of the different parts of the larger picture.

  • Part II, “Creating and Editing Web Content”— This section is part tour of the most basic elements of FrontPage and part tutorial of how to design great Web content with FrontPage 2003. Learn about the different views that let you edit your site the way you want to, understand the interface for building Web content, see how an improved search and replace gives you more control than ever, and realize how the graphics and navigational tools integrate directly with your site. Integrate the use of layout tables and frames in Web design with FrontPage's toolset and reach the goal of an accessible Web site with FrontPage's new accessibility features.

  • Part III, “Creating Web Sites with FrontPage”— A Web site is more than selections of Web content. Everything has to work together as an entire entity. In this section of the book, the entire process of Web site design is covered. The roles of FrontPage Templates, Wizards, and Packages in the design process are examined while creating, publishing, and editing an existing site are detailed. This section also presents the important issues surrounding the configuration and administration of a Web server should you choose to do this for yourself.

  • Part IV, “Advanced Page Design Concepts”— FrontPage 2003 provides a number of tools that assist in areas commonly associated with advanced page design. The implementation and use of forms and style sheets are covered in detail with specific directions for using FrontPage 2003 to expedite the process considerably.

  • Part V, “Scripting, Dynamic HTML, and Dynamic Content”— Dynamic templates and content are detailed in this part. The new FrontPage Behaviors tool that provides additional dynamic content is examined, as are the new interactive buttons. Client-side scripting and design-time layers are also covered with both an explanation of how FrontPage handles these technologies as well as their use in the Web design process.

  • Part VI, “Working with Code”— FrontPage 2003 gives the user the ability to work with code directly in ways previously not possible with the product. Scripting languages not traditionally Microsoft (such as PHP, JSP, and so on) can be integrated into your FrontPage Web site with ease. The chapters in this part examine and explain the different views in FrontPage 2003 and how to maximize them in the code development process. You will also find out how the quick tag editor and code snippets functionality gives additional power in the Web design process. FrontPage's new HTML optimization tools and VBA integration tools are also examined.

  • Part VII, “Web Collaboration”— Web design is no longer a solo process. Web sites are usually the results of the efforts of multiple people, and FrontPage provides a number of tools for making the Web design process a better and more efficient collaborative effort. Both the theory of designing with a team and the specifics of how FrontPage assists the process are covered here.

  • Part VIII, “Accessing Data with FrontPage 2003”— FrontPage 2003 introduces a new level of data capability that is covered in detail in this part. The types of data used with FrontPage, FrontPage's data access technologies and toolsets, and how FrontPage works with other data sources (such as XML) are all covered in this part of the book.

  • Part IX, “Integrating FrontPage 2003 with Office 2003”— As part of the Microsoft Office System, FrontPage integrates easily and directly with other products in the suite. Part IX covers how Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Publisher can be used in the creation of Web content. Tricks and shortcuts for getting the most out of each of the programs are also covered.

  • Part X, “Creating and Adapting Graphics for the Web”— Developers often need to create Web graphics for their projects. In Part X, we cover both the theory and practical nature of developing Web graphics while giving specific direction for doing so with some of the most popular graphics programs available today.

Four appendixes are also included in this book. They help FrontPage users further extend the product by giving detailed directions on how to find additional FrontPage and Web design information on the Web, how to use FrontPage to transact online commerce, how to integrate FrontPage into a Windows SharePoint Services site, and how to make personalized Web components:

Special Elements

Various elements exist in each chapter that have been crafted to make your reading experience as easy and useful as possible and also to make this book truly serve as the only reference you need for FrontPage 2003.

Terms that appear in italics are new or unusual and will be defined in the same section of text. Items that you are to type as part of a stepped exercise will appear in bold. We've also included a hotkey indicator so that those of you who are non-mousers can quickly access a command by pressing Alt and the underlined letter of a command.

You will find that we've included a “new” icon so that you can easily locate information that is new to FrontPage 2003. It will appear next to a section of text where the new item is being discussed.

Cross References

Cross references lead you to specific information in other chapters that relates to the topic you are reading. Whenever possible, they direct you to a specific section of a chapter to help you quickly and easily find what you need.

→ You will find cross references sprinkled throughout the chapters that will redirect you to related information should you need to learn more about a specific topic.

Notes, Tips, Cautions, and Sidebars

These elements provide you with useful little tidbits of information that relates to the discussion of the text.


Notes will give you additional information that you might want to make note of as you are working in FrontPage.


A tip can contain special insight from the authors about their professional experience in using FrontPage 2003, as well as items of particular interest to you that you would not find elsewhere.


Although you'll miss out on some good information, you can skip over Notes and Tips as you are reading, but definitely make sure to read Cautions. This element will caution you on pitfalls or problems before you get into them.

Sidebars Can Be Goldmines

Just because its in a sidebar doesn't mean that you won't find something new. Be sure to watch for these elements that bring in outside content that is an aside to go along with the discussion in the text.


The second to last section of just about every chapter is called “Troubleshooting” and contains a series of question/answer type of issues that are designed to help you troubleshoot some of the common problems that you might run into when working with the topic covered in that chapter. You'll find that within the chapter text itself, special notes refer you to the “Troubleshooting” section, where you will find issues specific to the topic being discussed.

This is a Troubleshooting note like you will see in the chapters of this book. It will then direct you to a specific title of an issue in that chapter's “Troubleshooting” section.

In order for this element to be truly useful, we've also compiled a list of all the Troubleshooting items from the entire book. You will find this Troubleshooting table of contents following the full table of contents in the front of the book. This way, if you are having a specific problem, you can flip to this table and find just the item you are looking for help with.

Front and Center

Although we expect the readers of this book will learn how to maximize their investment in FrontPage 2003, we also hope that they'll have a great time with the product.

At the end of each chapter, we'll include a section called “Front and Center” that will assist you in putting the pieces together as you develop a solid understanding of how FrontPage 2003 relates to the modern Web design process.

We'll use this area of each chapter to interject our real-world experiences and provide that extra piece of knowledge that will help you see the whole picture. We'll also attempt to have a little “fun” in this section, showing the personal side to the product we have spent so much time with.

We also have worked on too many products to know that the dynamic nature of the Web means that any URL we publish in this text could be obsolete before you are able to use it. As a result, we've made it possible for all links in this book to have the format http://x.frontpagelink.com. These links will dynamically redirect you to the page we wanted you to see. Go ahead and try out http://frontpageatmicrosoft.frontpagelink.com to understand the power of this valuable tool.

Enjoy the book, enjoy FrontPage 2003, and enjoy the process of taking your Web sites in the most amazing directions! We promise that we'll enjoy going there with you as well.

Jim and Paul

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