Replacement for FrontPage

Ok Guys, I’m convinced that FrontPage sucks. What replacement programs to you suggest. Dreamweaver seems like overkill and FrontPage is too bloated in many ways. What os YOUR favorite ?? I am hoping for something in betweem those too programs.

Thanks for your thoughts

Nvu – – I own FrontPage, DreamWeaver, and GoLive, but I’ve found Nvu to consistently be my first choice over all three. The fact that it’s free has no bearing on its goodness, it’s just a nice side effect. :slight_smile:

I have been using Namo’s WebEditor. <> I’m regularly surpised at its power and capabilitites.


Any Unicode-compliant text editor. WYSIWYG editors are all evil.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

“WYSIWYG editors are all evil” - -that may be true for a html purist, but if a person is trying to make a few dollars crearting websites than WYSIWYG editors are (or can be) a great tool.

Even if you have a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, you will find you can achieve more with handcoding a site. Your site will be leaner, faster, and more flexible than a WYSIWYG-sourced equivalent.

If I absolutely had to choose a WYSIWYG editor, I’d probably opt for Nvu, because it was developed by an acquaintance of mine.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

I am trying NVU as we speak.
It looks great but it will not let me create tables using % instead of pixels. Besides that - - it DOES look really nice… stil testing

I like NVU as far as WSIWIGs go. But you need to use a FTP client instead of what NVU offers. NVU can’t create directores on a remote server, among other things. Aside from that I like it.

Dreamweave is nice for some of the more graphical end of things. You can create Flash sites with the DW MX pakcage - as well as support for layers. Ya sure, you can handcode stuff like this too, but IMO it’s more work to hand code entirley visual elements by hand - especially when you have to specify size in pixels.

For instance I allways use a image map program when I need an image map, becuase it’s just too much work to be worth it to try and figure out the pixels with a graphics program, and then type them in by hand. I just let a simple program great the HTML for me, and then copy and paste.

One thing I do apprechate about Frontpage is that when you select text or an image in the normal editing view, you can switch over to HTML and that element will be highlighted and on-screen.


Use CSS to control the width of table cells. If you have for equal columns, for example, the CSS will be like this:

th, td { width: 25%; }---------------
Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

Now, I know you said that to get a rise out of all of us, and I would have agreed with you back in 1997… but Dreamweaver and GoLive can both be used well, can help one organize large-scale sites, create completely complient code, and both allow one to view either the code or the design. My old school perspective is to stay away from the spacers, built-in javascript libraries, and lazy design features both of these programs make too easy, but that’s just me. :slight_smile:

I recommend usng CMS or blog engines for many of my clients now. I want them to take control of their online presence. I am determined to put myself out of business :slight_smile:

For free, you can’t beat Nvu. I recommend it to my students.

My other old school opinion, when using a WYSIWYG editor, is: “Don’t write anything you can’t read.”

Site organization and templating is better handled with good use of server-side includes. I’ve used Dreamweaver, and although it can be bent into producing compliant code (apart from the way it embeds plugins), it is far from optimized. It is also way too reliant on the use of tables for positioning, despite the excellent input from Eric “CSS” Meyer.

Anyone serious about web design (as a business) will steer clear of WYSIWYG web software. They work well for the amateur market, and perhaps for creating production test pages, but that’s about it.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

I just can’t agree with your logic for most developers. WYSIWYG editors do not force bad coding on users, although, if you don’t know what you are doing you can, and will, write messy code with them. But if you don’t know what you are doing you’re going to write pretty terrible code anyway. Programs can be used well or poorly. Usually, they are used poorly at first and then used for their strengths in time. I have cursed many a crappy Dreamweaver-designed site.

I teach, and it would be unreasonable for me to demand my students write all their code by hand (although I do insist they learn basic HTML and create a multipage site with it before I’ll let them use an editor). Why? because the market demands that they understand these programs. Their future clients will probably be using one of them (or something like Contribute) to maintain the site once it is online. Most employers will also insist on proficiency with at least one WYSIWYG editor.

Good creative design, not just lean code or strict W3C complience, is also important. UI issues, layout issues, use of space, good navigation, are all achieved through experience and understanding of design, psychology and communication. No WYSIWYG editor will make one a great designer. Yes, CSS is the best way to achieve good/flexible design. I still write my CSS from scratch because I can’t get used to either Dreamweaver or GoLive’s CSS editors but I use the programs to call my codes in because it’s simply more efficient.

The web is a medium and, thus, is used many ways by many people for many things. There is no “right” answer or “right” way to get online. There are many solutions and one of them is probably just right for each individual user or business.

OP was looking for advice on switching from Frontpage. To say “all WYSIWYG editors are evil” doesn’t really address his/her question. For you and your business XHTML and PHP are the way to go, That’s awesome. But it’s not a solution for many designers and to say programs like Dreamweaver are ok for “amateurs” but not serious web professionals is just good old fashioned snobbery :slight_smile: Usually, large-scale websites are a result of a variety of programs and processes, chosen for efficiency, stability and ease of development and maintenence.

Is Photoshop evil because it will also let one create a really poor HTML site? Is Flash evil because it is so annoying most of the time?

There just isn’t a WYSIWYG editor out there that will do high-quality, standards-compliant code right out of the box. WYSIWYG editors must compromise that quality to achieve the results a user is trying to get.

I couldn’t disagree more, and I learned that the hard way when I won my hard-earned Associate Degree in Web Administration. There is very little work out there for the WYSIWYG developer. Almost all serious web design is done with handcoding and compiling Java Server Pages. In big business, the use of a WYSIWYG editor is restricted to the design team that creates mock-ups for management to look at - none of that work makes it to the web.

Serious websites, that are non-Java-based, are database-driven. Dreamweaver simply isn’t sophisticated enough to handle that kind of work. It’s fine for creating a “Mom & Pop” store, a personal website, or perhaps a photo gallery, but beyond that it simply doesn’t have the power. Relying on the myriad of Dreamweaver plugins (and things like ColdFusion plugins) means churning out bloated code - you’re right back where you started, without a clue what’s going on.

If you really want to give your students what they need, concentrate on HTML, CSS, JavaScript, SQL, and Server-Side Scripting, whether it be ASP or PHP. By all means give them Photoshop, Flash, etc. - these are essential tools for the jobbing “web designer”. If you are able, give them a solid grounding in Java Server Pages - that is where most of the work (and most of the money) is.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

you’d be giving your clients non-compliant rubbish, not a website most likely. That’s not something that I’m fond of competeing with or trying to explain to a client. As long as they can see it in their browser they don’t care if it was built as if it were a printed page instead of a web site. That’s pretty shortsighted by the client and the wysiwyg developer.

Absolutely false. “Online” is a medium like paper or vinyl cut signs for example. The methods you use to build files for the “printers” to make you a laserjet printed sign, or a vinyl cut sign would be different by necessity. For example, if printing an entire vinyl banner on an *jet printer you can use a nice subtle drop shadow over two background colors. If you’re doing the same banner and typography as vinyl cut outs then there’s not going to be any drop shadows involed, or if there is it’s going to be very compicated in building the fileS to accomodate that effect in cut vinyl (requiring a hybrid of cut and *jet).

All that to say MEDIUM matters!

Developers building sites exclusively in Dreamweaver’s wysiwyg are rarely building for portability the medium affords in my experience, just a buncha tabled layouts (that were likely born in Fireworks minutes before) with copious amounts of MM_javascript thrown around to make menus move.

I’ve heard (and used long ago) the “wysiwyg’s can be used to create compliant/good markup” arguments many times before but the real world “source viewing” of random web sites does not seem to indicate that this is the way they are used!

I defy anyone to show me a site that was built in Dreamweaver or some other wysiwyg that takes full (or heck, even 10%) advantage of the medium.

I’m not as purist as that rant made me sound :slight_smile: There always business considerations and target market to be considered and those factors should have a huge influence over a project/means to the end. Sometimes a purist has a handicap at the outset as their mindset goes against the business reality, but as a teacher I’d like to see you consider teaching more about the medium and it’s possibilities! There’s more to the web than WhatYoucanSee on a desktop monitor using a web browser!


Absolutely right, and well said. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that using a WYSIWYG tool is bound to make your “site” inaccessible to a significant (and increasingly larger) percentage of users.

WYSIWYG-authored sites make little or no provision for the following user agents:

Text-only browsers
Cellular phones
Googlebot (and the bots of other search engines)
Braille browsers
Screen readers

Well that all adds up to a pretty big chunk of potential user base. I can’t afford to throw away those users, so I don’t use WYSIWYGs.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

That presumes that someone is trying to design for universal compatability.

I was a graphic designer before I ever heard of the internet, so images and aesthetic are important to me. I still aim to design for the lowest common denominator, but there are limits. For instance, I am no longer losing sleep about users with 640x480 having to scroll right or people on 28.8 modems having to wait for images to load.

I would also point out that it’s more likely for someone who is brand new at designing to make a much more unaccessible site using raw HTML than with a WYSIWIG… how many newbies make sure their DOCTYPE is correct or that they’ve specified what their charset is? Most WYSWIGs out there (even the evil ones) do this for them.

I learned HTML before I tried any WYSIWIG editors (how many people used PageMill?). I am not ashamed to admit that I use Dreamweaver. Do I have to go in and edit the HTML by hand? Sometimes. Do I miss manually creating embedded tables and making sure that all of their code are appropriately indented? Never.

One more thing, on a more philasophical note:

I think it’s a great and powerful thing that average people have the ability to go on the internet and publish what they want, regardless of whatever elitist standards some would wish to impose on them. You shouldn’t have to be a certified webmaster to have to put out your message. If you want to do your site entirely in Flash, knock yourself out! If you want to do each page as one large jpg, go for it! It’s your site, so it should be your rules. I may disagree with you, but it’s not my site. If you ask me for feedback, I’ll give you my suggestions, but I’m not going to tell you how you HAVE to do your site.

I remember when someone designing a zine on their computer would be criticized because they hadn’t observed conventional newspaper layout rules. I didn’t like it then, either.

I see where you’re coming from but the point is that is you design to standard, universal compatability is within reach by nature! Wouldn’t that be a good way to learn? I say yes!

Seems you’re implying that there’s some kind of sacrifice when design this way? Besides the learning what would that be?

But elitist/evangelical purist DWWS Thumpers are irritating aren’t they?! :slight_smile: I just visited a friend’s site done in FrontPage and had to absolutely marvel at this:

That actually worked to load a movie in the page then start it onMouseover! HAR! :slight_smile: I had to fire up Ie to see it work but by golly it worked! wysiwyg content is worth working a little to get at sometimes!


No, it isn’t a question of universal compatibility. It’s a question of market reach. My customers want to reach as many people as possible. If I use a WYSIWYG editor, I might be denying anywhere from 10-30% of the target market access to the site. More importantly, I might be making it hard for search engines to index the site, denying my customer a decent search rank.

As far as DTDs are concerned, I have a simple template I work with:

header(“Content-Type: text/html;charset=UTF-8”);

[/code] [quote]Do I miss manually creating embedded tables and making sure that all of their code are appropriately indented? Never.[/quote] I handcode all my (X)HTML, and I've [i]never[/i] had to create embedded tables. Tables are for tabular data, not for layout.

Simon Jessey
Keystone Websites | si-blog

I believe you are making the universal mistake of assuming that your method and experience is the only viable method and that your
"understanding" of the concept of media and medium is complete. I am a communicator and I deal with people who are, primarily, trying to say something, not sell something. So my perception comes from giving voice to people with something to say. I have slogged through many a crappy website by many a powerful thinker to get to the ideas.

Yes, I agree 100% that standards and complience are extremely important and that dynamic websites running on dynamic, complient engines are where the future of web development and design are. And I have little doubt that Macromedia will continue to enhance their product to reflect that as well. In fact, I generally only use my copy of Dreamweaver to check and modify PHP at this point, or to work with students and educators. I need to know these programs because designers do need to know these programs. Believe it or not, sophisticated graphic design is important to a lot of people. Even if, yes, the designer comps and the developer creates code based on those comps, what you have, then, is a team.

I used to be a purist and still am at heart. But I am a realist. You can write clean code with Dreamweaver. You can also write bloated junk with the plugins. Here’s an idea. Don’t use the plugins! Learn how to write or modify javascript and include it in your sites via the code. This is what I tell my students, who are educators and designers. They don’t always listen :slight_smile:

Who’s influencing the web and society these days? It’s the bloggers. Why? Because of CONTENT. And, lucky for most of them, blogging software tends to be complient, dynamic, clean and functional without them having to really learn how it works. So, really, my recommendation to a lot of people just starting out is to use a blogging engine for their site. In time they will learn how to modify the CSS and templates and never go down that non-standard path in the first place. Then, they may begin to understand the PHP or Perl code the engine is built on. But they could still use Dreamweaver, GoLive or Nvu to modify their templates and, in fact, Dreamweaver is used widely for template design.

Different tools for different tasks.

Again, I also think it is important to answer the OP’s question. Someone looking for a replacement to Frontpage is probably looking for a WYSIWYG editor. To that person, again, I say Nvu’s your product. It’s free, compliant and easy to learn.