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Microsoft FrontPage 2002

I'm sure that most of you know the "Express" version of FrontPage that used to come free with any new Windows version. Many Web designers I know (including myself) started out with FrontPage, and it is very well known all around the world because of the familiar Microsoft marketing strategies and general availability. However, it seems as if FrontPage 2000 never really "made it to the podium." Does FrontPage 2002 have a better chance of getting a more warm welcome in the world of Web designers?

In General

Some of the new Web components for FP 2002 include custom link bars and automated content from Microsoft "controlled" Web sites such as MSN and Microsoft bCenter, which enable you to easily add news, stock quotes, and similar features to your site. Unfortunately, the bots (Web components) that come with FP 2002 cannot be edited. This especially becomes a problem when working with database-driven sites because the data returned can be received only as a bot. However, using the new Database Interface Wizard, it is now much easier to actually create the new database and start building your Web site around it. This works well for users who don't need to receive "editable" data.

Site management has greatly improved with this version of FP. I especially liked the integrated site reporting, which enables you to see who is visiting which pages and when on your Web site. (It also tracks hits and search strings.)

Another major improvement on previous versions of FP that I have seen is that you now can edit several pages at the same time. Also, as could be expected from a Microsoft product, FP 2002 is tightly integrated with other Microsoft products. For example, you can add Powerpoint-like drawings and diagrams to your pages without even leaving the program, and FP 2002 also supports the new Office XP's Smart Tags (although I must say that neither of these options really comes in use while designing).

FrontPage 2002 also comes with a Photo Gallery wizard that will automatically create a page with thumbnails of your images, which are then linked to pages with the full-size picture. You can choose from four layouts. This makes it very easy to set up an online "gallery," which could come in handy when designing personal home pages or displaying some artwork online. The only bad thing about this wizard is that it supports only one page of images; adding more images will result in a decrease in page performance.

FP 2002 should be good for the smaller e-commerce Web sites. Adding product catalogs and shopping carts is very simple, and with a subscription to Microsoft bCentral, you should be able to set up payment services (such as credit card billing) easily.

Overall, this is a good WYSIWYG editor for personal usage or small business purposes. Die-hard Web designers will miss the ability to easily add and edit HTML content manually (it is possible but not made easy by FP). However, FrontPage 2002 is a lot more affordable than Macromedia Dreamweaver.

Some Pros

  • FrontPage 2002 is easy to use and good for first-time users.

  • The Photo Gallery wizard is very useful.

  • This version allows you to work with several windows at the same time.

  • Site templates and designs are available.

  • Better Web site management is included than in previous versions.

  • It's good for basic e-commerce sites.

Some Cons

  • It's hard to edit HTML code.

  • You can't edit the bots, which is bad for database-driven Web sites.

Product Information

Price: The cost of FrontPage 2002 at the time of writing was $169 for new users and $89.95 for those upgrading from an older version (see the Web site for more information).

System requirements (Windows—from the Microsoft Web site):

  • PC with Pentium 133MHz or higher processor (Pentium III recommended)

  • For Windows 98 and Windows 98 Second Edition: 24MB of RAM for the operating system, plus an additional 8MB of RAM for FrontPage

  • For Windows Me, Windows NT Workstation 4.0, and Windows NT Server 4.0: 32MB of RAM for the operating system, plus an additional 8MB of RAM for FrontPage

  • For Windows 2000 Professional: 64MB of RAM (128MB recommended) for the operating system, plus an additional 8MB of RAM for FrontPage

  • 165MB of available hard-disk space, with 115MB on the hard disk where the operating system is installed

  • CD-ROM drive

  • Super VGA (800 x 600) or higher-resolution monitor with 256 colors

  • Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6 or later (requires Internet Explorer 4.01 with Service Pack 1 or later), or Windows 2000 Professional or later operating system

  • Microsoft Mouse, Microsoft IntelliMouse, or compatible pointing device

Product Web site: Microsoft FrontPage 2002

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