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|optimizing a site written in FrontPage (part 1)|
trying to make FrontPage leave things alone
I'm optimizing a site written in FrontPage, and I'm beginning to understand all the nasty things I've read about the program, which, up till now, I've managed to avoid.
The webmaster I'm working with inherited the site, so he's not a FP expert either.
Big problem we're having is that the page titles I'm using for optimization come up as text in the navigation buttons... a nasty surprise. Any way around this?
I vaguely remember reading somewhere that one possible solution would be to generate the site in FrontPage and then go into each page with a text editor to insert the proper titles. Can anyone suggest a better approach?
Also, what other surprises should I be expecting, and what, if any, are the work-arounds?
This may not be the kind of answer you are looking for but if neither of you are happy with frontpage it might be a good time to migrate to another package. I hear dreamweaver is a good wysiwyg HTML editor. I have used frontpage for a couple of sites and wouldnt touch it again i'm afraid.
<Big problem we're having is that the page titles I'm using for optimization come up as text in the navigation buttons>
As far as I know, the only way to do this perfectly is to get rid the FP navigation structure and replace it with manual coding. (I don't know of any SE that will actually see and read the text in the navigation graphic.)
If it's a really big site then you might want to consider using includes for standard navigation elements that need to be indexed because that will cut down the size of the task. (Google as an example will see and cache the includes but there may be other SE's that won't).
I used to use front page and quite a few sites with it before switching over to Dreamweaver.
Frontapge is really pants, Dreamweaver is Fandabbydosy!
You can cut down the crap Frontpage uses but i would reccomend throwing it away and using DW then simply do a find and replace through the site getting rid of the the frontapge crap. The clean up HTML works pretty well too.
Do the navigation by hand either textualy or graphically and either use SSI to include the pages (or even PHP) or you can save the section as a library item which is almost the same thing.
I load any page I've made into Dreamweaver
and use the "clean up html" feature. It will remove all those Frontpage extensions. I like Pagemill the best because it's easy.
As someone who has lost his share of hair dealing with front page, I hope I can help. In FP 2000 just Go to View--->Navigation, this should bring up your current web structure then just right click on the page you want to change and click rename, this will change the name in the navigation but not change your page extensions.
one of the clipbook libraries which you can use with Note Tab Pro is designed to clean up Front Page garbage. We use NTP all the time but never have used the actual Front Page clean up clip as we have never used Front Page.
Hi knighty and welcome to Webmasterworld. I'm a littel confused on your choice of adjectives. Pants? Fandabbydosy? I'm guessing from the context they're a form of good and bad? Just curious.
BTW Robert, I started using FP once. Got rid of it after about 2 months when I caught on to all it's lovely quirks. I think you're in for a few more surprises, particularly where graphics are concerned. I found that every time I saved a page containing a graphic, it applied their standard 15% compression. Save a page a few times and that graphic will be hurting. "DE-frontpaging" the site took a week or so and I had to do some of the graphics over because I hadn't saved the original. Good Luck.
Thanks all. One thing I guess I didn't make clear... I myself don't use FrontPage. I won't even use DreamWeaver.
In this case, I'm optimizing a site written in FP. My recommendation from the beginning was they dump it and do it by hand... but that would require a lot more work than the site owner bargained for.
So, I need workarounds within the context of FP. The webmaster is a programmer and was thinking of writing some Perl routines to replace all the titles after they are saved. Sounds like Q's suggestion might save this extra step. Thanks....
I'll check into the Note Tab Pro clip library too. Anyone know what the particular clip is called? I'm assuming that any cleaning up of the code has to be done after FP finishes the page and needs to be done each time the site is run through FP.
Hadn't realized that FP was screwing around with the graphics too.
As a PS... for my own sites, I use a variety of text editors. Note Tab Pro is great, and I've begun to play around with HTML-Kit. For some applications, Word for DOS in text mode is great because of its macros. I do keep wishing HomeSite gets fixed, so I can use that again; it was great until Allaire messed it up.
Just for scots benefit and others...
Pants = Something thats is terribly poor and inferior.
Fandabydosy = too much TV i gues and no one elses really says this. Just means great, really cool (although if i was really cool i wouldnt say words like pants and fandabydosy)
hmmm text editors vs visual editors??
Oooh, boy! Anyone looking for help with FP without the bashing, feel free to stop by www.frontpagewebmaster.com .
Frontpage has some quirks. ANY wysiwyg has some quirks! It's not for everyone, but it's a good program for many. ;)
As for the *problem* above, it's simple to take care of... but then, you aren't using FP to maintain the site and you probably have things *fixed* by now anyway.
>> I do keep wishing HomeSite gets fixed, so I can use that again; it was great until Allaire messed it up.
What did Allaire do to my favorite editor? I'm using an old version and was considering an upgrade, but you've definitely put me off that idea.
>> As for the *problem* above, it's simple to take care of
Please, don't keep us hanging -- what is the simple fix for the title tag problem Robert_Charlton brought up?
Perhaps this would be a good time to interject with an evaluation of what we're all doing, what our intended goals are and how well the tools we use help us reach our goals.
This is, as its stated purpose, a forum format web site about the subject of Search Engine Optimization. This particular forum within the site is "Browsers, HTML and Page Design," subtitled:
"Q&A around the grand topic, HTML, the heart and soul of the net."
HTML is indeed the heart and soul - the foundational tool upon which the internet is based and always will be, until the day comes when something else is found takes its place. That day has not yet come.
HTML is our tool. The W3C is the organization founded to standardize HTML - to establish standards by which we, the webmasters and those who make browsers, have a benchmark for accuracy and standardization. This is a good thing.
The stated purpose of the search engines is to provide relevant search results for the searchers - they are committed to that not only on principle, but as a matter of business necessity.
The job of the SEO community, which consists of seasoned professionals, semi-professionals, and scores of avid, serious students of the art and science of SEO, is to constuct web pages and web sites for themselves or their clients that will also present accurate, relevant results to searchers.
Bottom line - SEOs and search engines are on the same page with that.
In evaluating the value of any tool or piece of software, how well it contributes to accomplishing that purpose is what determines its efficacy - in other words, how well does it conform to the W3C HTML standards upon which the search engine spiders, browsers, SEOs and their clients, as well as searchers, rely to achieve adequate results.
Notepad passes the litmus test with flying colors - you type the code to conform to standards, and what you see in that code is what the spiders will see, and also what will be seen on the pages.
The criteria for judging whether Front Page is a good tool is how well it conforms to W3C standards - no more, no less.
Are Front Page themes in compliance with any given, acceptable standards? NO they are not. Do Front Page Extensions need proprietary modifications done so that they can be functional on most of the web servers in use? Yes they do. Does Front Page create code that conforms to standards? No it does not.
A tool can only be judged by whether it is contributing to the efficiency of doing the job. If it is hindering, it must be discarded.
I do not see any bashing at all...what I see is people who have found that they are being hindered by a tool which does not do the job as it should be done.
Robert_Charlton's original question was not "How do I learn to use proprietary software". His question was how to optimize his client's site in spite of the hindrances he is experiencing with this proprietary software.
The subject is search engine optimization - if Front Page is a good tool for accomplishing this, I think I would need to see, rather than a subjective, biased opinion, a detailed study of a couple of thousand search results demonstrating how Front Page is being effectively used to create good HTML pages and get decent search engine results for the site owners.
If that can be adequately demonstrated, then it would make a good case for using Front Page to maintain a site. Otherwise, it is not bashing, but merely stating the facts that FP is a hindrance, and only makes the job harder.
>but it's a good program for many. ;)
If anyone can demonstrate how it's a good program for search engine optimization, I'd surely like to hear about it.
>>What did Allaire do to my favorite editor? I'm using an old version and was considering an upgrade, but you've definitely put me off that idea.<<
Tedster - I'm still using v2.5, but that's getting kind of old. Basically, Allaire hasn't shipped a bug-free version since.
Their current version, which I think is v4.51, is a resource hog, and Allaire really hasn't been able to fix it. From posts on their support forums, and from people I've spoken with, you have to reboot very often if you use the program. It works better with NT and with 9x. Some users find themselves crashing all the time. All my leads to competing HTML software came from unhappy HomeSite users on the HomeSite support forums. The problem is, HomeSite, when it's working, is better than all its competition.
It's not for everyone, but it's a good program for many.
FrontPage is probably a great program for a home hobbyist, who's not interested in expanding their web presence or effectiveness beyond their own personal site. It's fine for a business who just wants an online brochure, so they have a URL to put on their business cards.
However, if you're building an ecommerce site which will need good search engine ranking...
if you're interested in being able to easily adjust your work for the purpose of improving search engine positioning over time...
if you're interested in building a standards-compliant site that will display properly in the next generation of browsers and will degrade gracefully in older browsers, text-only browsers, audio browsers for the blind, etc....
In short, if your interested in building a high-quality, professional-grade, accessible website, a program such as FrontPage, which uses bizarre, proprietary markup in the source code, and doesn't come anywhere close to conforming to any accepted standards of HTML, is a BAD choice.
Frontpage has some quirks. ANY wysiwyg has some quirks!
Well, having used Adobe GoLive and having talked to many Dreamweaver users, I can say that the "quirks" inherent in professional-grade WYSIWYG HTML programs do NOT include generating mangled code. The only errors I regularly get when I validate my GoLive-generated HTML is the fact that I forget to include ALT tags for all my images.
I was once asked to 'clean up' a site built in FrontPage, and after looking at the source code, I ended up re-building the entire thing. The only code I've ever seen that was worse was generated with PowerPoint.
I dont' see crticism like this as "bashing" in any way. I would see "bashing" as making unqualified or untrue negative statements, or using entirely subjective insults against the "bashing" target. Everything that's been said about FrontPage in this thread (and other threads around WebmasterWorld when the subject of FP comes up) is factual.
Anyone who's trying to become a top-notch web professional, whether in the areas of web design, search engine optimization, or building and running their own commercial website, would be very well advised to mind their standards and stay the heck away from FrontPage.
I also have very angry feelings about the sites I inherited which were originally developed in Front Page. "Cleaning" the code to make it standards compliant is not a small job, and the client is often very anxious during the process, when visible results are non-existent.
The first page I tackled for a current client went from 160kb to 38kb in the process -- with absolutely no change in appearance or functionality (except the download was a lot faster.) Cleaning one page took a full day's work, and it was very tedious work.
122 kb of spurious code is not just a quirk, it's a train wreck! To be "fair" to Front Page, I'm sure that a lot of the extraneous code came from uneducated use of FP, but there's a lot of that going around.
I'm also happy to say that this page, which was previously invisible on all search engines, now dominates several keywords. This is as it should be, since off the web this company is dominant in their market.
A big part of the responsibility for the train wreck lies with Microsoft's marketing of Front Page. They continue to push the idea that FP is a way to allow a company's secretarial pool to create website content with minimal web-training.
Such a prospect is nonsense. The secretarial pool does not do the design and pre-press for the newest direct mailing. These jobs require specialists, and so does the website.
I have a client who uses FP98. She makes changes daily. She is also 70 years old, and is not about to try to learn HTML or anything complicated. She has a site that is an auxilary business to her 10-year old mail order catalogue. FP serves her purposes quite well.
My own personal opinions of her choice in software are not relevant. She does not hire me to design or maintain the site. She hired me to optimize the site for search engines.
>I vaguely remember reading somewhere that one possible solution would be to generate the site in FrontPage and then go into each page with a text editor to insert the proper titles.
In my experience, this will backfire in the long run, and may even be part of the current problem. When you try to use a non-FP method to make changes, FP tried to resolve the "html" back to what it uses. You can imagine the mess that results after repeated attempts to modify using non-FP.
It also uses those extension thingies, which are unique to FP, and they get screwed up if you try to use another editor.
>Big problem we're having is that the page titles I'm using for optimization come up as text in the navigation buttons... a nasty surprise. Any way around this?
I had a similar thing happen to me, which is why I was able to write the above paragraph. It just so happens I still have the old (bad) version on my drive. The font tags ended up looking like this:
<font color="#000080" face="Arial">Visa · Mastercard ·
Discover · American Express<font FACE="Arial" vehicle bras for cars, trucks, suvs</font SIZE="3"> · Visa Check Cards</font></small> <small> </small></font>
The solution that worked for me? I fixed all 4000+ instances of this mess in FP98 and then re-imported it in a newer version. Then I bought a Dummies book about Front Page and never, ever tried to change their site outside of that environment.
I don't know if it would have worked had I imported it to a clean FP98 or not, so I don't know if this will actually help you.
Laisha - Thanks... I've forwarded your note and re-forwarded Q's advice to the webmaster, and I'm hoping he manages to figure it all out. What do you do to create optimized titles that don't get inserted into the nav bars?
Robert - coming back to your original problem - it's totally feasible to clean up an inherited FP site so that it's reasonably well optimized (very cautious with the "reasonably").
The actual solution depends a lot on the size of the site, the extent to which other FP elements have been included and of course the quality of the initial html (Laisha's font tag example is IMHO a result of poor design/authoring in the first place - it 's not necessarily a characteristic of the software).
Laisha's point to clean the site within the FP environment is absolutely valid - to edit externally simply adds complication to an inherently over-complicated environment. Tedster's comment re <uneducated use of FP> is true and leads to "When using FP .... KeepItSimpleStoopid"
Assuming that you don't go the complete rebuild route using other software, <to create optimized titles that don't get inserted into the nav bars>, try this within FP (assuming 2000 version):
1) I'm convinced that the text within the FP nav bars isn't even indexed by SE's (the FP search component does but that's irrelevant from an SEO point of view). So, if that's true, get rid of the nav structure! Do it as follows: go "Format-->Shared borders" and simply don't include the nav buttons.
2) To replace the nav structure you just wiped out, create very simple tables for top, bottom, left/right navigation zones with simple text links . If the site is big and logically structured then an easy option is to create sets of standard FP "include components" to cut down on some of the labour. (These includes are indexed, perhaps not by all.)
To clean up some of the other extraneous code on your inherited site, it might be worth taking a look at "Tools-->Page Options-->html source-->Reformat using-->Base on current page" and experiment based on a page with "simplified" code.
Wow...you guys have been having fun over here. I figured I would look away from my log files for about 10 minutes or so and see whats going on in the rest of the world.
I dont know much, but I do know if Marcia gets on the soapbox like that there must be something to it.
I used Front Page for about a year. When I got Dreamweaver I wanted to actually target practice with a 10 guage at 10 feet with the old FP install disks. But I didn't figuring they would be a handy gift to someone I didn't like later on down the road.
FP hinders the user from acheiving the goal of producing standards compliant html in a big way. Along the way, FP also frustrates the user with many bugs which cause the system to crash.
What really burns me up about it is the fact that it is geared toward newbies and then it ambushes and frustrates them with absolutely ridiculous crap. It's hard enough trying to learn all of the stuff you need to know without the editor tossing in so many stupid hurdles that shouldn't even be an issue.
FrontPage hinders newbies and professionals alike and should be illegal in all 50 states. Please sign the petition and pass it on:
BH, I was appauled to read your last post...why only ban it in the only the Statse? Surely a world wide ban would make much more sense!
I went Notepad->Front Page 98->Dreamweaver at which point i thought what frig was I doing using FP?!
So it is with great pleasure that i add my name...
>FrontPage hinders newbies and professionals alike and should be illegal anywhere.
>Please sign the petition and pass it on:
Sure, lots more would join you but isn't this just the place for those guys who inherit FP problems to come looking for practical solutions. ;)
Read tedsters post and it becomes blatantly obvious what poor souls are up against in their plight to free the Front Page captives.
From 160K to 38K!
From 160K to 38K!
From 160K to 38K!
We're not talking just a line or two here and there.
Unfortunately the overall gist of this thread is loud and clear: Don't use Front Page to start with and if you've inherited a site built in Front Page you're in for a real treat. Best thing to do is clean it up as best you can and never let Front Page touch it again.
BH - message is clear, absolutely no sweat with that. Add my name to your petition. :)
But hey, we've been through the guts of inherited sites and although we haven't hit every FP wall I'm sure, where a client has decided to continue with an FP clean up he's going to need some help too. I hope my contribution to Robert offers practical advice....
>Sure, lots more would join you but isn't this just the place for those guys who inherit FP problems to come looking for practical solutions.
>>isn't this just the place for those guys who inherit FP problems to come looking for practical solutions<<
I certainly hope so. :)
Re getting rid of the nav structure (and dumping FrontPage), great minds think alike. That's what I suggested to the webmaster right after he told me about the problem, but...
The site is using FP themes, which, as I understand it, is what creates all those (large and ugly) graphic buttons that give the page both its top header and its navigation buttons (they call it the nav bar). So if you drop all that, the site suddenly has no graphics, and the poor webmaster, who's really just an innocent bystander in all this, has to become a graphics design artist and build all sorts of graphics throughout the site... as well as, I'm guessing, learn tables.
I haven't looked carefully, but I think I could probably right-click now on all the existing graphics and download them. If anyone ever made changes to the site, though, they'd be back to zero on the whole design. Since I don't have the program at hand (nor do I want it), I have no idea whether those little banner backgrounds (for the links and top page title) are accessible inside the program.
So, what to do? Clearly, anyone who tries to optimize a site in FrontPage should think twice. Alas, I've already gone down that road... and since thought four or five times. I'm older and wiser, but am I able to finish this project?
Robert - you can keep the themes with the graphics, just dump the navigation structure and replace it as suggested to optimize your current titles (the initial problem).
1) The themes can be modified - no need for "big and ugly" (not FP dependent).
2) The backgrounds and other elements can be modified too (simple graphics).
3) The tables are basic html no need for anything more.
Just to add my experiences to the pot.
I decided to clean up some FP pages, they were heavy on data and 500/700k, after cleaning in a text editor it was down to a quarter of that. By the nature of the cr*p FP inserts you can if you are lucky get rid of a lot with find and replace, for example in FP 97 (not sure about later versions) you can select some text and click the button to make it smaller, it inserts <small> tags. Now say you click that button ten times, it inserts ten tags, only five actually make any difference because by then its not going to get any smaller. IIRC you can then try to make it bigger 5 times until its normal but it still leaves orphaned small tags in the code.
Apart from just plain bugs like this the other main cause of bugs is themes, especially applying multiple themes one after another.
Like I said I cleaned up the data pages, the others I just had to give up on and do again. The main problem with FP and new users is its too tempting for them to insert crap, newbies don't realise that using Java hover buttons etc. are NOT a good idea.
Oh and BoneHeadicus - bad news is that I now hold #1 slot on your petition...
Reflecting quietly - it's Saturday night - getoutofhere!!!
>>you can keep the themes with the graphics, just dump the navigation structure and replace it as suggested to optimize your current titles<<
Freebee - One of us isn't understanding the other, and I'm not sure which is which.
First, I'm not the guy who has FrontPage or is maintaining the site. I gave the webmaster a bunch of modified text, which included modified page titles.
He got back to me and said that the page title also appeared in the page heading graphic up at the top and in the "nav bar" down below, and that my titles were too long to fit. My titles, of course, were not intended to be nav bar content, but it seems that that's the way that FP does things.
Now, if we dump the FP navigation, as you're suggesting, we dump the way all the page headers and nav bars graphics are done... which is to say the entire graphic structure of the site. I think it's ugly... actually kind of cutesy... but to a lot of people it looks better than plain text.
Yes... I can write a set of text links and put them in a table. I'm not being paid to do that, and I don't think that addresses the loss of graphics.
The webmaster is not a designer... and there are something like 14 pages with a bunch of little subpages, so that's a lot of simple graphics with no one to do them.
| This 48 message thread spans 2 pages: 48 (  2 ) > > |