I've alerted many of you to the fact that Microsoft has discontinued the FrontPage web publishing platform, with full support of the product FP2003 ceasing June 2008. That may seem like a long time to you, but to me, it is simply a drop in the bucket of time - it may as well have already happened!
My primary goal in attending the MIX06 conference was to determine how I, as a web template developer, could best serve our customers to provide the best means of transition for the future. I'm very happy to say that I left the conference not only optimistic, but PUMPED about the future of web design.
The Expression Web Designer is one of three products offered in the new Microsoft Expression suite, and is the one we will focus on. This program is a web publishing program designed first and foremost with web standards/accessibility in mind. I wrote a blog some time back on accessibility, CSS, and table-free design; this is not a new concept on the web. It has been through the WASP and efforts of several web standards advocates that we have finally advanced to an evolutionary point on the Microsoft platform to see this become a reality with ease. I applaud the Expression Web Designer team - they are putting together a program that will make my efforts MUCH easier.
In a Nutshell
Let me touch on what is coming, randomly, and in a nutshell...
FrontPage navigation: a thing of the past. Probably the MOST unfriendly web standards bot FrontPage had. It was dandy for menu creation, but wasn't and could not be good for web standards.
FrontPage DWTs: Carrying forward as DWTs, just not classified as "FrontPage" DWTs. Hey, they've been around for years - Microsoft did not invent them inside FrontPage. Expression Web Designer (EWD) uses DWTs. It also uses something called "master pages (master.page)", which appears to be identical to a DWT except it is page specific rather than web specific.
FrontPage themes: Are you kidding? Those are obviously gone. Most people haven't used them for years anyway...
FrontPage shared borders: Again, these were discontinued with FP2003; they obviously have no place in a new product.
FrontPage included content pages: This was not specifically addressed, but my bet is high that they are discontinued. With the use of DWTs and master pages, they are highly unnecessary.
FrontPage forms: Obviously, since the FP product has been discontinued, there is no such form for the future. The good news? The Expression team has kindly grandfathered support of them into the EWD, so those who use them are not dead in the water straight off the cuff.
That's the overview, again, randomly. If you want to know what templates of the future will be like coming from us, they will be similar to our "FP Plus" series, except in DWT format. The FP Plus products are driven by an external style sheet, have table-free design, and are built in accordance with web standards. Those templates will have the least amount of problems in the transition, but as I understand it, ALL webs built within FrontPage will be able to transition.
Unfortunately, we can't even get our hands on a Beta of EWD yet. I promise you, I begged, I pleaded, I went through every channel I could. It just didn't happen - not for me or anyone. The UCL is to be released on the Expression Web Designer Site in late May or early June of this year, if all goes well. You can be sure I'll be camping on their doorstep for that one!
That's it for now - I have more to report later on IE7, as well as the other two products released in the Expression Suite. If I've left unanswered questions here, please feel free to post them and I'll do my best to get you the correct answer!
Comments For 'FrontPage - the Future' Blog
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Posted on Monday, July 02, 2007 06:53, by Melanie
Hi Teri - I have just licensed the Landscaping template from your newest additions. I had hoped to be able to pay the fee for the LeoMega drop down system before it expires in 90 days. I don't see any way to do that. There is no link on the www.leomega.com website to do this, and there is none in any of the information I've seen. It is a big site and I don't want to have to redo it at the last minute. Can you send me the information, please? firstname.lastname@example.org . Thank you - Melanie
Posted on Sunday, April 01, 2007 20:05, by Avşa
Posted on Friday, February 09, 2007 19:49, by terry
What will happen to people who are currently using Front Page? Will you still offer support? Will you have new templates? Will they be as user friendly to design novice as FP was? Will you offer support them?
What should a web design novice do? I bought a few of your templates for personal use. Will I need to convert them to something else coming down the pipe in order to maintain support when I need it?
Posted on Sunday, October 22, 2006 07:02, by iMMages
Teri - I have licensed several of your templates that use the Leo Mega drop down Menu System. Since the three month trial period has ended, I have been unable to upgrade to the paid version. The email link does not work and you have not responded to emails or phone calls. What do I do??
Posted on Monday, October 09, 2006 06:53, by iMMages
Teri - I was wondering why your newer templates don't show up in the design catalog? Will they be editable in Expressions? Thank you.
Posted on Sunday, September 03, 2006 16:50, by jim
FP Includes are excellent but not overly required with EWD. DWT's do the job well and most sites would only ever have 1 dwt maybe 3 at most. If common areas such as footers are prone to change, perhaps an image holding the text placd in the dwt would suffice?
I would also be very unhappy if the include page components were discontinued. There shouldn't be any problem with XHTML compliancy as long as the developer builds the include page to also be XHTML-compliant (okay, obvious perhaps, but just building off of Teri's comment).
Regarding navigation bot...
The best-case scenario for current FP customers and developers would be if the webbot navigation buttons/links could be created with an XHTML/XHTML-strict compliant option -- for example, having them display in a bulleted list (which we as developers could then format using CSS). The current webbot navigation link and custom link bars aren't ideal because...
Text link buttons have inline styles applied (for example, text-decoration: none) which prevent the developer from being able to have 100% control over the style
Some of the text link button styles also have <nobr> and code inserted, again, preventing the developer from having 100% control over the style
Many issues could be resolved in regards to compliancy and giving developers more control over the style and look (via CSS) if the navigation bot:
Created a bulleted list of links with no inline styles - simply: <ul> <li><a href="...">Link text</a></li> etc... </ul>
Perhaps included some kind of unique "id" in the <a> or <li> tag, corresponding to the link text, giving developers even more control over each individual link, for example: <ul> <li id="link1"><a href="...">Link text</a></li> ... </ul>
In the meantime, my XHTML/HTML compliant templates DO NOT use the FP link bars simply because there is no way to get them to be compliant. I only use hard-coded links, styled with CSS, within include pages. However, this makes them simply similar to, say, Dreamweaver templates. Including a XHTML-compliant webbot navigation option would put FrontPage way above the competition, allowing customers to easily build navigation links without having to mess with HTML code. (In my experience with hundreds of FrontPage template customers, the navigation-based and custom link bars are one of the primary features that make FrontPage attractive to customers.)
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 14:46, by Teri
Thanks for the input. I am VERY passionate about the continued use of included content pages; this is the easiest way to do things as Corrie said like updating the copyright year in one place, but is also extremely handy for many other items.
As for bots (a bot by any other name is a what?) - I guess it doesn't matter what you call them. Obviously the nagivation-structure self-menu builder bot with FrontPage couldn't possibly meet web standards. In the beautiful presentation Lynda made, there was no reference to anything like a "navigation structure" - so I'm not sure if there will be such a thing or if there is any potential to make a compliant auto-menu based on one. Certainly, if there is and ther COULD be, that was one of the major hard-sellers to FrontPage users, who for the most part have no desire to manually create menus. That, and of course, the price point.
I've spent the morning making a page done in FrontPage using a flash header XTML 1.0 Strict and CSS Validated. I didn't have any problems at all with the include-page bots. The fix for the flash was a pain, but that's not a MS issue. The menu (originally an automated FP bot) had to go to the wayside in lieu of a manually constructed menu within includes, but it finally came together.
Please keep us posted on these matters, and thanks!
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 14:33, by Erik Saltwell (microsoft)
We are currently looking at both Include Pages and bots in general. We are trying to make a smart decision between providing a UI that designers can love and also providing upgrade paths to FP users who are interested in the designer space. One of the things that makes this trade-off hard is that all the bots stuff is 'opt-in'; they are not hanging around in your face if you don't use them. On the other hand, our teams investment moving forward will be on standard-compliant tools, so we do not currently have plans to do anything other then provide a migration path (if we do that). If people feel passionate that this is either the write or the wrong way to go, please reply nd let me know.
Dev Manager - Expression Web Designer.
Posted on Friday, March 24, 2006 14:42, by Corrie
I would be very surprised if "include pages" were done away with altogether, although I wouldn't be surprised if they're called something else. Dreamweaver still has Libraries (same thing as an "include page" in FrontPage), and people (myself included) still use them -- in FP as well as DW. Why update the copyright statement in 10 different DWTs (let's say you have a massive site with lots of different page layouts) if you can put it an include page inside the DWT?