Microsoft FrontPage `Wizards' Work Magic on Web Site Design

Article excerpt

In perhaps its most audacious - and underreported - move yet, Microsoft Corp. is temporarily giving away the latest version of its stellar Web authoring software. If you're running Windows 95, you have to get your mitts on this one.

FrontPage, which Microsoft bought last spring from Vermeer Inc., is a World Wide Web page-creation tool. It can automatically create a Web page using elements you specify, thanks to "wizards," scripted programs that do all the dirty work of coding a page with HyperText Markup Language, or HTML. The result is a professional-looking page without too much effort.

But what do you do if you want to create an entire corporate presence? If you need to manage a Web site of more than one page? How do you manage feedback from visitors and users?

The new FrontPage 97 handles these tasks, and more, with elan. The program will set up a Web server on your PC or network server and present you with a schematic of how your pages are interconnected. Click on a given page and it appears in an editing window.

You can use the "corporate presence" wizard to create a uniform style for your pages - and select layouts ranging from plain to just about eye-popping. There are numerous templates for given pages: product and service listings, press releases, and others.

You can have the program create a "feedback" form where customers can respond and where you can save information in a tab-delimited form, making it easy to add to a database for future contact.

What will these people think of next?

How about an image-editing program that promises to make it easy to manipulate images and graphics so your pages look even better. The Microsoft Image Composer, which I haven't really played with, does all this and includes 600 free images and clip art to help get you started.

While this may resemble a Ginsu knife ad, wait - there's more.

One of the more challenging aspects of Web weaving, at least for me, has been uploading a Web page and its attendant components to a host. File transfer protocol, or FTP, is a strange beast best managed by those who like the arcane. …