Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 vs. Microsoft FrontPage 2000 | WebReference

Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 vs. Microsoft FrontPage 2000

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Macromedia Dreamweaver 4 vs. Microsoft FrontPage 2000

By Ruben Jorge ( )

I'm a channel operator in a Portuguese IRC HTML channel, and the question asked me most often is: "Should I use Dreamweaver 4 or FrontPage 2000 to create my Web sites?" I say to them: "It depends on a lot of factors." I will explain my point of view.

If you're a fledgling Web designer and you're trying to build a simple Web site, you'll surely say that FrontPage 2000 is the best! Why? Many people are familiar with Microsoft Office. FrontPage resembles Word and other Office products. Thus, FrontPage will be easier and quicker to learn due to its Office-like menus, working system and site templates (prebuilt designs). The site templates will help you build your Web site in minutes; formatting text, inserting images or tables is as easy as using any other word processor which most people are familiar with.

FrontPage can also help you a lot in organizing your site's structure, using a tree-structure for all files and folders in your site. Also, if you have a Web page which is linked from many other pages and you rename that file, FrontPage will automatically update links in the other files, you don't need to change links by yourself anymore.

For those who are not familiar with FTP (File Transfer Protocol), FrontPage has a tool that uploads your site to your Web Presence Provider (WPP), without the need for an FTP client, and most WPP's already support this new feature. Dreamweaver 4 also has a built in FTP client; it is called the "site manager." With the site manager you can view, upload, or download both remote and local copies of your files. The site manager also allows you to rename your files and, after prompting, will rename all links in other files that point to the renamed file/s. In addition, the site manager can perform a site-wide search and replace on any chunk of text whether it be code or content.

If you are using Microsoft Internet Explorer, you can preview your document directly from FrontPage, without starting the browser, making your work easier and quicker to check.

But, sometimes, speed and ease of use are not enough to satisfy or you or your client, that's why Dreamweaver 4 exists! Macromedia's diamond is one of the most popular Web development programs because of its stability and incredible capacity for advanced users. One of the most outstanding features of this new version is the possibility of changing between layers and tables. You can place a layer, with all its HTML content in any place on the page (absolute positioning, that is, you can set the number of pixels where it will be placed), but you must realize that not everyone uses the same screen resolution and so you should use tables instead of layers. Dreamweaver 4 allows you to design your pages with layers and then it will automatically transform those layers into tables, without losing any of your document's structure.

Well, this is only one of the features of Dreamweaver 4. It can create an image map (an image with many different links) from a normal image inside the program itself; it has an HTML reference if you have any doubt about a tag, it lets you create interactive images without any external JavaScript, as it writes the scripts itself, and a bunch of other awesome options!

Dreamweaver's compatibility with other Macromedia products, such as Flash 5 or Fireworks 4, is as perfect as FrontPage is with other Office programs, even if you don't have Flash 5, Dreamweaver 4 can create Flash Buttons or text, as it keeps your Web site's files in order for future uploading.

You can always keep Dreamweaver 4 up-to-date with its Extensions (useful add-ons made by advanced users): from ASP or PHP server side scripting to new HTML tags. Also, it is compatible with the newest Web development technologies, such as Cascading Style Sheets, which can be created inside the program.

A last note for those who manage huge Web sites and want to change the appearance, before Dreamweaver, changing a Web site was a terrible nightmare. If you wanted to change one simple thing, you'd have to change dozens or even hundreds of pages one at a time. But now you can create a model for the whole Web site and change the design just once, Dreamweaver will take care of the rest!


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Created: May 10, 2001
Revised: May 10, 2001