One way to create web pages from scratch without using HTML is to use an editor that hides the HTML from you, letting you edit a web page as easily as you would use a word processor. These programs are called WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editors.

Microsoft's FrontPage is one of the most popular WYSIWYG editors, mainly because it comes as part of Microsoft Office, which lots of people buy just to get Word and Excel. FrontPage is, therefore, seen as a cheap and easy solution, and the fact that it works very similarly to the other Microsoft Office programs is a plus as well.

Using FrontPage.

FrontPage is very easy to get started with: you can either create a single page, or a whole ‘web' (FrontPage's word for a set of inter-connected pages). You can use the buttons on the toolbar to do simple things like set your text's font, make text bold and italic, make links and insert graphics.

Going up to the menus will give you access to a few more complicated functions, such as table creation. Part of the reason FrontPage is so popular is that it has all sorts of little scripts ready to insert into your page, including hit counters and animations.

FrontPage Extensions.

FrontPage is quite unique in that many web hosts have special ‘FrontPage Extensions' installed, that allow to upload your site easily from FrontPage to your host. In most cases, though, you'll be better off just saving the files using FTP. You will also need to have the Extensions installed on your server if you want the forms FrontPage produces to work, or if you want to be able to add its search function to your site.

Really, the Extensions are nothing more than a good reason not to use FrontPage to design any dynamic elements of your site it will cause you no end of trouble. FrontPage is only really any good when it comes to designing static pages.

FrontPage Templates.

One of FrontPage's strong points, however, is that it has an easy-to-use templating system. This means that you can download templates and easily use them to create new pages in FrontPage. It will create a navigation system for you as you go, using information from the template. This can be a quick and easy way to get started on your website, although you'll often need to be careful to avoid doing anything that causes the carefully worked-out layout of the template to break.

Problems with FrontPage.

FrontPage's biggest problem is that it produces wildly non-standard ‘Microsoft HTML'. This HTML is bad enough to be completely un-editable by anyone who isn't also using FrontPage, and has a tendency to display wrongly in any browser apart from Internet Explorer. Even the default template you see before you've typed a word in FrontPage isn't valid HTML!

Worse, because e of the amount of repetition FrontPage introduces into your pages, they can often be much larger than they need to be and so take much longer for your visitors to download than they should. It's bad enough that many sites offer programs designed specifically to do nothing but clean up FrontPage's terrible code.

Part of the reason there's quite a stigma attached to FrontPage amongst web users is that it tends to produce pages that are extremely amateurish. Some FrontPage sites can even crash web browsers, because their authors decided to use FrontPage's various animated navigation elements FrontPage is all too happy to quickly add in so much Javascript and Java that a website becomes unmanageable. Page transitions are particularly bad.

Overall, trying to create and manage a website with FrontPage can be a big headache it's all too easy to hit one of FrontPage's bugs and mess something up, or load it with too many proprietary features to the point where it's pretty much unusable to anyone. Worse, if you open a half-finished web page in FrontPage, its code will be messed up beyond repair.

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