Well it’s been over 9 years now since the last release of Microsoft FrontPage. If you didn’t hear the news, Microsoft has replaced FrontPage with a new product called Microsoft Expression Web (and more recently Expression Web 2, 3, and now 4). I had the opportunity to test drive the new Expression product here at Total Hosting and I must say, I am pleasantly surprised.
Long gone are the old style FrontPage themes (which looked outdated when Microsoft first released them oh so many years ago) and extensions. In, is new standards based code design more focused on CSS and XHTML. The look and feel of the product is similar enough to make FrontPage 2003 users feel right at home. Still present are the three interface modes for designers to create their websites. The WYSIWYG mode, (or what you see is what you get) which allows designers to create pages in a fully design orientated mode with all elements of the page being laid out visually. The split screen is also still present for those who like to work in both code and WYSIWYG mode. And last but not least, is the code only mode. Of course you can switch between any of these whenever you desire.
Overall, I found the product to be easy to use and generated fairly clean code. You can set your target audience for a variety of different browser versions which effects the code output that will be generated by Expression Web. Of course, all the modern Internet Explorer versions are present as well as strict HTML.
So what does this all mean to the remaining FrontPage users out there? First, Microsoft is no longer developing updates for FrontPage or the FrontPage extensions. FrontPage extensions are a service that runs on the Total Hosting web servers which are required to use some of FrontPage’s old features. These features are the ability to publish, use FrontPage style forms, and use the old themes. Much functionality of these extensions are already incompatible with the latest security features that are in place on Total Hosting’s and most other web hosts servers. As a result, many of these features no longer function. Over time web hosting companies will be forced to abandon FrontPage support altogether. If you use the features I mentioned above, then it is time to consider the switch to Expression Web 4. You won’t regret it.
If you don’t use any of the features I mentioned, you may never need to upgrade but you might want to. Taking advantage of support for XHTML and CSS are great reasons as they produce dynamic, clean, and effective web sites.