Front Page

Subject: Front Page
From: Asher Miller <smasher -at- HOOKED -dot- NET>
Date: Tue, 24 Nov 1998 01:40:25 -0800

Can you edit FP docs in other editors? Yes--HTML is simply straight

Regarding browser-specific issues (Netscape vs. IE, etc.): You should be
coding your pages to work in any browser. The standard a couple of
years ago was HTML 3.2 (developed by the World Wide Web Consortium,
otherwise known as W3C), which corresponded to Netscape 2.0/IE 3.0
(which both supported frames and tables). You can probably get away with
coding up to HTML 4.x by now (corresponding to IE 4.x and Netscape 4.x),
which supports cascading style sheets (*.css) and some JavaScript
(*.js). (Of course, standards of both JavaScript and Java are a bit
touchy, what with Uncle Bill and his pals trying to "pollute" the
versions lovingly developed by Netscape and Sun.) (But I digress.)

Image maps can get troublesome. The best way to ensure the most
compatible image maps possible is to go with server-side
(numerical-coordinate) image maps. This isn't the best solution in the
world--it requires additional server-side processing, and thus more
bandwidth--but it is the most compatible solution. As said in previous
posts, you could run into compatibility issues if you use MS's
client-side image mapping.

Unless you know you are authoring for a one-browser/one-server shop
(such as authoring for a company intranet), you should stick with the
above-mentioned lowest-common denominator standard (W3C's HTML 4.x).

Regarding your authoring tool: I would suggest against using a WYSIWYG
authoring tool (such as FrontPage, Netscape Composer and Adobe
PageMill); the resulting code is messy and hard to edit, and you'll lose
some control over such things as whether or not webbots and other
"goodies" show up in your code. And the WYSIWYG products always insert
<meta> tags telling the world you used their authoring tool. Yuck.

I like HomeSite (available from Allaire (, though
I understand that both HotDog and Macromedia Dreamweaver (which is a mix
between straight code and WYSIWYG) are also quite good. You can also use
Notepad, WordPad, SimpleText, BBEdit, edit, qedit, vi, emacs, etc.
HomeSite comes with a number of tools for inserting both Netscape
JavaScript and MS JScript/webbots, but I use it just as a straight
editor. Alas, I still haven't mastered emacs....

Regarding repurposed web pages: Web pages that started life as MS Word
docs are ugly, ugly, ugly. If you look at the resulting HTML file,
you'll see a whole pile of weird formatting and coding junk that will
make it a nightmare to maintain for the poor sod who follows you.
Regardless of whether or not you are using Word style tags, Word codes
in everything literally, with (for example) <font face="Times New Roman"
size=18pt><bold></bold></font> tags all over the place--even in blank
paragraphs--instead of creating a heading hierarchy with <h1> and <h2>

Frame docs are kind of messy, too, when they're repurposed as web pages,
though not nearly as bad as Word. Though I haven't really played around
with converting *.fm files in Frame 5.5.3, I do know that the early
versions of 5.5.x had a somewhat buggy conversion engine. It basically
took the style tags and converted them to a cascading style sheet, but
not always cleanly. (But I trust that everybody would be distributing
Frame docs on the Web as PDFs, though. Right? ;-)

If you can, start with as clean a source file as possible (ASCII or ANSI
is pretty clean :-), and code around it. Longer docs should go up as

Regarding servers: Don't forget that half the pages out there are served
by Apache, the free UNIX-based web server, which knows no standard other
than HTML. Your code should be as agnostic as possible, to support as
many servers, browsers and platforms as possible. If you are authoring
for a MS-only environment, go with webbots and the other MS toys. But I
can't guarantee that you'll sleep soundly at night knowing you're a
party to Redmond's rotten ways.....

I hope this ramble helps. Of course, I'm still learning about all this
stuff, too...

--Asher Miller

From ??? -at- ??? Sun Jan 00 00:00:00 0000=

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