With the possible exception of Outlook, FrontPage 2003 has changed more than any other Microsoft Office System application. FrontPage has traditionally been designed primarily for Web beginners and businesspeople: folks who might know Word but are not Web professionals. These folks are still a crucial market for Microsoft. But FrontPage 2003 adds many industrial-strength features needed by professional Web designers and developers, too. There’s a lot of new stuff to learn, including a significantly tweaked interface. Backed by Microsoft, Jim Buyens has written the definitive guide to FrontPage 2003 for users with some FrontPage or Web design/development experience.
Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 Inside Out isn’t a beginner’s guide. While Buyens offers a “whirlwind tour” of the basics, he doesn’t waste a lot of time on stuff you already know. (Total newbies might check out Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 Step by Step.) That leaves the bulk of this big book for FrontPage 2003’s enhancements and advanced features.
Many of these new features will simplify development for both pros and amateurs. For example, Buyens introduces new task panes for building layouts and manipulating table cells, and the handy Autostretch option for preventing unwanted distortion of table rows and columns.
Buyens also offers detailed coverage of dynamic Web templates, which allow you to define editable and non-editable regions of a page. Change non-editable areas, and the changes are applied sitewide, wherever you’ve used the template. (Sounds like Macromedia Dreamweaver? You’re in luck: the feature is intended to be “syntax-compatible” with Macromedia Dreamweaver. You should be able to use existing Dreamweaver sites -- maybe even permit Dreamweaver and FrontPage users collaborate on the same projects.
Buyens also focuses on using FrontPage to build sites that use Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 running on Windows Server 2003.
SharePoint 2.0 is immensely powerful -- but it has all kinds of implications. For instance, whereas classic FrontPage extensions use ASP or ASP.NET for database access, SharePoint 2.0 uses XML data sources formatted via XSLT. Your pages, images, and documents aren’t stored as ordinary files, but as database records. SharePoint 2.0 also depends heavily on Web Parts: content fragments that site designers, administrators, and authorized visitors can add, delete, or manipulate.
Buyens thoroughly covers the issues associated with SharePoint sitebuilding. You’ll first walk through creating simple SharePoint Team Sites; then use the aforementioned Web Parts to build diverse SharePoint applications; and finally, access and integrate data sources inside and outside your SharePoint application.
As with all the books we’ve seen in the Microsoft Inside Out series, you also get an electronic version on CD-ROM, plus loads of bonuses -- notably the excellent Microsoft Computer Dictionary, Fifth Edition. There are also goodies straight from Microsoft’s FrontPage product team: stuff you won’t find in anyone else’s FrontPage book. Bill Camarda
Bill Camarda is a consultant, writer, and web/multimedia content developer. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks for Dummies, Second Edition.