FrontPage 2002

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Pros

  • Photo Gallery
  • new usage reports
  • drag and drop live content
  • easier publishing
  • XML support.

Cons

  • No code IntelliSense
  • generates bloated code
  • can't edit Web components.

Although die-hard HTML coders will always prefer a text editor to a WYSIWYG authoring tool such as FrontPage, there are several improvements to this application that will make it a more attractive proposition to the rest of us.

Foremost among these is the Photo Gallery, which allows you to compose a collection of images using customisable layouts that include horizontal, vertical, montage and slideshow. Based on your selection, FrontPage 2002 will automatically thumbnail and arrange your selected images from file or digital imaging source, and allows you to add both captions and descriptions quickly and easily. ALT text would have been a useful addition and the layouts are limited to single pages only, but rudimentary editing such as cropping, resizing and rotating are included in the gallery setup process.

PowerPoint-style tools and effects are also included for text and images, so you can add drop shadows and WordArt objects to your page layout, or paste objects from other Office XP applications. These will be converted into XML code and image information, so you'll need IE5 or later to see them.

The hard work has also been taken out of table formatting, with AutoFormat giving you a choice of the standard Word-style tables, and Fill Right or Fill Down allowing you to paste the same content into several adjacent cells quickly and easily.

If that's not enough, a wide range of Web components is also included in the package. These range from stock quotes from MSN, headlines from MSNBC or maps from Expedia, guaranteeing an increase in traffic and click-throughs for all of these Microsoft properties from your site, but at the same time providing you with some useful content.

Aside from content creation tools, there are some traffic analysis improvements in FrontPage 2002's feature set, presenting you with regular reports in either HTML or XLS format. Because it has access to this data, FrontPage 2002 can also generate dynamic Top 10 page lists to your site based on visits or referrals.

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Those of you who use the Web Publishing Wizard over external FTP clients such as CuteFTP will be pleased to find that it now includes views for the source as well as the destination directory, and you can choose what content gets updated by right-clicking on the object in folder view, rather than uploading the entire page.

FrontPage 2002 has improved a great deal. XML support and ties to SharePoint are attractive features, but it still comes across as unwieldy and more attractive to the consumer than the business user.

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