After nine years of development, Microsoft recently announced that it will be discontinuing FrontPage. I’ll explain what discontinuing means in a second but I want to make it absolutely clear that myhosting.com will continue to support sites developed and maintained with this application as long as possible.
All Microsoft is doing is stopping any new development of FrontPage and has apparently used the code base to develop two new products: SharePoint Designer and Expressions Web.
Office SharePoint Designer 2007 is quite unique in that you can use this tool to design Office SharePoint version 3 sites as well as develop some pretty sophisticated work flows. While you could use FrontPage to connect to a SharePoint version 2 site, you can not connect to a SharePoint version 3 site using FrontPage. For this you must use the inline design capabilities or use SharePoint Designer.
Expression Web boasts some pretty decent features including the ability to develop sites for today’s standards including XHTML, CSS and XML (important for producing consistent results in various browsers as well being more compliant for indexing by some search engines). There’s also support for ASP.NET 2.0 and it is compatible with Visual Studio (good for a designer working in conjunction with developers).
For most website owners, who aren’t developers and don’t manage any SharePoint sites, there’s no need to upgrade. As it is, FrontPage is one of the only web design tools that requires server side extensions to power a bunch features like the web search component. While these extensions are supported on current Windows web servers (2003), they will not work with the next server release from Microsoft – the elusive Longhorn.
And while there is no official release date for Longhorn, when it is eventually released, myhosting.com plans to maintain our current servers for customers who require this functionality, and continue to support FrontPage customers as long as there is support from Microsoft for the core operating system.
That should be good for several more years but eventually you might want to consider a new tool for designing and maintaining your site. Expressions Web is one choice but there are some great, mature tools in the market that can be used on any platform. Try out Dreamweaver or GoLive by Adobe. But we recommend avoiding Flash if being found in the popular search engines is a major consideration for you.
Good or bad, current web design standards are being driven by search engine optimization (SEO) considerations and Flash just isn’t SEO friendly.
V.P. Sales and Marketing
SoftCom Technology Consulting Inc.