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a subtle problem of frontpage

As an aside, I spent some time in the last couple of days doing a favor to someone who had created a website but wanted to make it look reasonably good.

Since the site had been created with Frontpage, I had to go through the usual rigamarole of removing the extraordinary amounts of garbage that Frontpage inserts into the HTML. This was problem number one.

The 'subtle' problem though, was the UI. In the process of changing the site I of course redesigned the navigation, but I realized that Frontpage was actually doing something pretty terrible: creating a bad UI.

Frontpage automatically manages the creation and maintenance of navigation on a site. You can create the site hierarchy and FP will maintain links, etc. The problem is that the UI that FP generates is hierarchical, and it doesn't really do justice to the multidimensional nature of hypertext. It is, pretty much, a directory in HTML form. In many default FP templates, sub-pages are generated with "Up" navigation links along with the rest, which is not only ridiculous with HTML but also bad UI practice because the navigation bar changes content for every page you're in.

So my question is: can't Microsoft fix Frontpage so that it a) generates simple, CSS-based HTML and b) that the default templates include well-designed hypertextual UIs, rather than what it does today?

Or does Microsoft need a Firefox HTML Editing app that will wake up the Frontpage team, just as Firefox itself has resucitated the IE team?

PS: Frontpage is actually a product that Microsoft acquired in 1996 when they bought a company called Vermeer Technologies. The founder of Vermeer, Charles Ferguson, wrote a book about his experience, from founding to acquisition, called High Stakes, No Prisoners, which is fantastic. Recommended.

Categories: technology
Posted by diego on December 20 2004 at 5:58 PM

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