To upgrade, or not
to upgrade, 'tis the question. George Chiang
Throughout the months, people
have been emailing me, asking my opinion whether or not they should upgrade from
FrontPage97 to FrontPage98...moreover, people have been asking me why I haven't written a
tutorial for FrontPage98 yet. Well, first of all, the decision as to whether or not you
should upgrade depends heavily on your needs, and not on which one's better (since its
really not that clear to me which one's "better").. Here's a lowdown of the pros
and cons of each version:
stylesheets: FrontPage 98 adds support for stylesheets. For those that are not familiar with
stylesheets, they are basically extensions of html that gives you more control over every
aspect of every element in your html page. For example, using stylesheets, you easily give
form buttons a different background color (as opposed to that dull gray), or even a
background image! In essence, every single tag in your document now has the ability to
possess attributes that were before only limited to certain tags. Notice I say "adds
support for stylesheets", not "move over, I'll do stylesheets for you." In
other words, FrontPage98 supports stylesheets, but you still have to learn partially what
the heck stylesheets are before you can manipulate them in FrontPage98.
Better support for
thought did not belong in the page, it kicks it out, thinking it knows better. Namely,
FrontPage used to remove scripts from the <head> tags, and sometimes within other
tags too, and re-positions them somewhere else in the page where it thinks they should
belong. Well, what does a darn editor know over us humans? FrontPage98 has stopped
doing that, allowing you to safely add scripts anywhere within you html page.
Easy access to the
document source: FrontPage98 has now a "html" button on the lower screen, allowing quick
access and alterations to the source file itself. This is a big plus if you are designing
webpages utilizing IE 4.x dhtml technologies, where it is often necessary to make changes
to individual elements and tags.
Better frames creation
tool: I was forced to learn how to create frames when I was using FrontPage97, since it
was so lousy at it...no more. Lazy webmasters may not have to read my frames tutorial after all!
Better abstraction: What do I mean by that? Well, it means that with FrontPage97, you seldom need to
make changes by opening the document source file itself (opening the html file using
text editor, for example). Many insertions can be made directly in the editor, by using
the "extended" button, or through the "insert html markup" box.
FrontPage98 took out the "extended" button, and obscured the "markup"
box, meaning even basic script insertions now means a trip to the messy html file itself.
For webmasters that do not and hate digging into the source file itself, FrontPage 98 does
not provide relief.
Makes maintaining and
updating scripts in a page easier: This, to me, is a big plus FrontPage97 has over 98' With FrontPage97, any
editor, either by making changes to the "html markup box", or the content inside
the "extended" button. With FrontPage 98, you are forced to have to dig into the
source file just to see the scripting codes, let along modify it. In essence, you may find
yourself forgetting often that a script even exists in your page, and be surprised at what
your page is doing after viewing it in a browser.
So what does this mean? Should
I upgrade? Yes? No? Well, if you are seriously considering designing webpages using fourth
the only way. However, if you are working for a company that is not too picky about fancy
pages, than you can easily stay with FrontPage97 and perhaps wait till 99' comes out. 95%
of what you see now on the web can be designed using FrontPage97, in fact, I'm still using
Now, why haven't I done a
tutorial on FrontPage98? Well, if I decide to shell out $60 for an upgrade, than I will,
but don't hold your breathe on that one, since I'd much rather spent in on tuition-for