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"I think a travel video/photo blog would be good based on XML with some kind of database - my preference MS SQL"
This is an area I know nothing about so here are my questions:
1) Would you agree with such a suggestion?
2) How is the learning curve for such technologies for someone who's been using Front Page for many years?
3) Can anyone recommend the website of a company which might help me get started on this project?
. . . would be good based on XML with some kind of database
XML is not a programming language. How are you going to handle the communication with the database? XML is not an advanced version of HTML also. It is meant for a completely different purpose.
XML in 10 points [w3.org]
Check out opensourcecms.com there are many LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) based content management systems out there.
I like Drupal.org
I started going all CMS a while back. There's just no reason not to. Even for a brochure ware, you can't beat the ease and consistency of a CMS.
All you have to do is get a template going, but many of these projects have very nice templates that can be "fiddled with" to create something fairly decent and unique. The operation of your website is then browser based, which is very easy.