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To answer your question about Googlebot following links, I'd have to say that I've never heard of any problems. The Shared Borders HTML may not be pretty, but it is spiderable.
Last time I used shared borders with FP the only difference was an extra meta tag in the source code, presumably for the server extensions to include the shared border upon seeing the tag.
something like <meta name="sharedborder" content="tb"> or something to that extent.
More "elaborate" frontpage options will obfuscate what could/should be a plain text link.
Are you talking about Front Pages "hover buttons"?
Nope, that's not how it works. FP updates the borders every time you save, you just don't see it in "normal" or "html" view. If you use "preview" view and right click and choose "view source" you can see the code that is actually on that page. You don't have to publish the site to see the code. If you were to choose a file in the web with Windows Explorer and open it in Notepad you could see this as well.
FP updates the borders every time you save, you just don't see it in "normal" or "html" view.That's probably a simpler explanation. I work on the PWS so saving the page is the same as publishing it in the local environment, but I could see how that could be misunderstood.
However, I would suggest that you not rely too heavily on the Preview in FP. It's not really a fully functioning browser and has limitations. In this case you could view the source the way Swordsman suggested and see what the Shared Borders component had made, but depending on other on-page components it is usually recommended that you use the Preview in Browser method of checking the source of what FP has made.
One suggestion: If you have a very large site, break it into subwebs. That will have two advantages:
1) It will make it easier to use different borders in different sections of the site if you wish; and...
2) It will save time when saving changes to your shared borders or included content.
BTW, for my side borders, I insert include files. This is more convenient than entering border data directly, since I can have a couple of different borders if I wish and change them just by inserting a new include reference in the shared border.