Frontpage Unique "Qualities"
Things you loathe about the mechanics of a certain program called FP
Well, we can all laugh at Frontpage....yeah it is funny the things it does- and I would not recommend anyone to buy it to be honest, but that is my opinion :)
I wanted to make a head-up thread about some of FP's pitfalls...since we can all sometimes be pretty keen to put it down. If you think FP is bad for web design - please do not hesitate to give it full frontal.
Some things that I change that FP can give you no choice over.....and some things you wouldn't expect in any other situation.
<meta name="GENERATOR" content="Microsoft FrontPage 5.0">
<meta name="ProgId" content="FrontPage.Editor.Document">
This is trash. It is the default for making a new page (quickest way to do this in Frontpage is CTRL+N) I notice that even when you make a saved template of a page, it will insist on inserting them when you open the page again.
2) Broken T ag<a/s
I don't know exactly when FP does this, but at times, it does a great job of it. (Especially) Broken P tags = no validation and who knows what the result looks like in certain non-MS browsers. All of the problems with broken tags is by using the WYSIWYG view, which is what FP is meant to be all about. To fix this, you need to know how to hand code yeah? Since this is the case, FP is nice for a "slap up" design, but not for writing the sort of code that would give your site the sort of direction it needs.
3) Handling of PHP
No doubt a factor in other scripting languages, but when I was dawdling along in learning PHP, when saving a page, all the escaped characters that are in character strings are replaced with something....else.
4) Nodoctype for your pages
Why should I have to bother....it seems to do everything else that I otherwise wouldn't consider as an "enterprise" web designer.
5) CSS Creation
Frontpage can make CSS quickly, but it doesn't add values like px or %'s to some CSS attributes that require it. Again, why should I have to know any better...what exactly do you pay for. It also won't check over itself for non-validating CSS that it implements by using the >>Format > Style option on your .css page. IMO if the option intends to make CSS for you, it should make CSS that will actually work.
6) Webbots and Extensions
Are going to add to the cost of your webhosting, and if your host doesn't take that into account, the non-FP extension users will have something to say about that and their hosts business model ;) I have also seen a thread here in WebmasterWorld that references a program that looks for the Frontpage extensions on a windows server and simply wants to mess the extensions up...meaning every Frontpage you rely on (including Frontpage forms for feedback or anything you consider important) - useless. I don't know how much of a problem that is.
7) Handling of Temporary Files
Under the >>Tools > Options menu, you have the choice of configuring different editors for each file extension. You might say (after finding out some of the above) that's a plus. Maybe not. Click on a database in your FP web and do your stuff. Find out hours later that it wasn't the db you clicked on to edit, but an obscure temporary file that sits in a temporary folder with many other copies of your same database....every time you have done the same thing in the past. (Before I knew this I had about 10 copies of the same DB in a temp folder!) If you ever need a backup of a database, FP is doing it, just it never mentioned it nor would you expect it. So make sure you don't click on a DB file when inside FP.
If you click on any other file inside Frontpage that opens in another prog (usually notepad) and want to see updates and actually make-your-work-happen - you have to click on the FP program again so that FP can do whatever-it-must to update the file you intended to edit. (IMO - just edit the **... file you click on FP thank you).
Basically, FP imports any edits you've made outside the program once you click on it again. If it asks "a more recent file has been saved- would you like to overwrite it - click NO...this is FP wanting to revert to what it assumes was the last edits you made to the file (which, as far as it is concerned- is the edits you do in FP). The same goes for if you close the program and it asks to import newer files...tell the program where to go by clicking no...
8) Shared Borders
Shared Borders are the best worst invention in ages. They are splayed a bit like frames but can get all screwed up in light of all the mess that is involved in editing pages. Basically, FP controls shared borders....and their is nothing else like them on the web as far as I know. Basically they are like an awkward "include" that you would otherwise use to include content of your choice. The advantage of shared borders is if you don't have knowledge of CSS to position things, HTML to
9) Edit / Replace
Although any edit replace tool is nice...especially if you want to place bad code (who/what writes bad code) .... then FP will help you clean up the mess that whatever or whoever made. The only problem is that it scripts all those things that FP will automatically include for you, such as a line like this
<!--webbot bot="Include" U-Include="hastobe.htmbtw" TAG="BODY" -->
Now, the idea of this FP "component" is to save you time editing and replacing any old code that you want to supercede.....but in the case of this "comment code"...it skips it. Great...maybe I wanted to change the includes I use - nevermind, best stick to -normal- includes....either that or spend a couple of hours on a few hundred pages that would take 2 minutes editing/replacing using another program.
10) The Frontpage Includes
The FP include function is under >>Insert > Webcomponent > Included Content. It is like any other type of include i.e. usually the code <!--#include file="whateryou.like"-->. If you use the FP include...make sure to delete everything you didn't make "on-the-page" apart from the <html> and <body> opening tags...or the include won't be included. Otherwise the FP junk mentioned in (1) will be there. It doesn't get displayed on the page...but its something that adds to fat code and increasing disk usage. Also, when a FP include is displayed...you get checksum lines like this.
<!--webbot bot="Include" U-Include="hastobe.htmbtw" TAG="BODY" startspan -->The stuff you really wanted and not everything else <!--webbot bot="Include" i-checksum="35763" endspan -->
That's an extra 120 odd characters weight on your page courtesy of FP code. See here [webmasterworld.com] as to why Frontpage should not have this 'facility' as it stands in future :). Even if file sizes don't matter in Google, the lines of code are not needed- and are wasted bandwidth. Most of my pages are about 6/8k in source code using 3 includes - so using FP includes would increase my file sizes by 10% with no benefit to nothing.
That is 10 things that annoy me most about Frontpage that come to mind. I make this thread thinking that some experienced FP users may have ways round the above, while those who use FP because of its WYSIWYG capabilities and assume that it does everything correctly- be aware!
I guess some people almost hate the prog with a vengeance. I would assume some people do so because of the way it stifles something that you want to do...build a web page! :)
Regardless of expertise, knowledge external to FP, or anything- the program has faults that can make a site substandard. I don't claim to be an expert designer, and I still use FP for many things (like link validation amongst others).....but try to place lesser reliance on the prog
I've used it for over a year and a half, same time I have been making websites. I know some of you designers have stuck with FP over the years and may have something to add. Non-FP users...why not get a spade and help dig the grave here?? :) At one point in time, you said "I will not design sites with FP because...." - so what were the reasons?
Otherwise I don't think there is a place on the web that rants FP in detail. Perhaps we could start it here (and for the sake of equality-have another thread about its plusses).
After all it is one of the most commonly used programs to make a website today. Perhaps not the mainstream choice of an expert..nonetheless...still a player.