To upgrade, or not to upgrade, 'tis the question.
George Chiang

Throughout the months, people have been emailing me, asking my opinion whether or not they should upgrade from FrontPage97 to FrontPage98...moreover, people have been asking me why I haven't written a tutorial for FrontPage98 yet. Well, first of all, the decision as to whether or not you should upgrade depends heavily on your needs, and not on which one's better (since its really not that clear to me which one's "better").. Here's a lowdown of the pros and cons of each version:

Where FrontPage98 excels  97':

Support for stylesheets:
FrontPage 98 adds support for stylesheets. For those that are not familiar with stylesheets, they are basically extensions of html that gives you more control over every aspect of every element in your html page. For example, using stylesheets, you easily give form buttons a different background color (as opposed to that dull gray), or even a background image! In essence, every single tag in your document now has the ability to possess attributes that were before only limited to certain tags. Notice I say "adds support for stylesheets", not "move over, I'll do stylesheets for you." In other words, FrontPage98 supports stylesheets, but you still have to learn partially what the heck stylesheets are before you can manipulate them in FrontPage98.

Better support for JavaScript:
Before FrontPage98, FrontPage was a spoiled and arrogant child-any script it thought did not belong in the page, it kicks it out, thinking it knows better. Namely, FrontPage used to remove scripts from the <head> tags, and sometimes within other tags too, and re-positions them somewhere else in the page where it thinks they should belong. Well, what does a darn editor know over us humans?  FrontPage98 has stopped doing that, allowing you to safely add scripts anywhere within you html page.

Easy access to the document source:
FrontPage98 has now a "html" button on the lower screen, allowing quick access and alterations to the source file itself. This is a big plus if you are designing webpages utilizing IE 4.x dhtml technologies, where it is often necessary to make changes to individual elements and tags.

Better frames creation tool:
I was forced to learn how to create frames when I was using FrontPage97, since it was so lousy at more. Lazy webmasters may not have to read my frames tutorial after all!

Where FrontPage97 excels  98':

Better abstraction:
What do I mean by that? Well, it means that with FrontPage97, you seldom need to make changes by opening  the document source file itself (opening the html file using text editor, for example). Many insertions can be made directly in the editor, by using the "extended" button, or through the "insert html markup" box. FrontPage98 took out the "extended" button, and obscured the "markup" box, meaning even basic script insertions now means a trip to the messy html file itself. For webmasters that do not and hate digging into the source file itself, FrontPage 98 does not provide relief.

Makes maintaining and updating scripts in a page easier:
This, to me, is a big plus FrontPage97 has over 98' With FrontPage97, any external codes (ie, JavaScript insertions) can easily be seen and modified directly in the editor, either by making changes to the "html markup box", or the content inside the "extended" button. With FrontPage 98, you are forced to have to dig into the source file just to see the scripting codes, let along modify it. In essence, you may find yourself forgetting often that a script even exists in your page, and be surprised at what your page is doing after viewing it in a browser.

So what does this mean? Should I upgrade? Yes? No? Well, if you are seriously considering designing webpages using fourth generation technologies (dhtml, JavaScript1.2 etc), than you have no choice, upgrade is the only way. However, if you are working for a company that is not too picky about fancy pages, than you can easily stay with FrontPage97 and perhaps wait till 99' comes out. 95% of what you see now on the web can be designed using FrontPage97, in fact, I'm still using it.

Now, why haven't I done a tutorial on FrontPage98? Well, if I decide to shell out $60 for an upgrade, than I will, but don't hold your breathe on that one, since I'd much rather spent in on tuition-for now.


CopyRIght 1997 George Chiang