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Important: Know a site built with Microsoft Frontpage?

Can you digg it?

Today I got an email from Gemstream Hosting with the subject line of "FrontPage End-of-Life". I’d think this was spam, except it was coming from a big hosting company.

Now I might hate to admit it, but I know a few websites out there that were built in Microsoft Fronpage.

You should read this if you too know of any sites on the web that we built in Microsoft Frontpage.

Dear Gemstream Hosting Customer,

Gemstream has always been proud to offer Microsoft FrontPage extensions on our Linux hosting servers, which allow our customers to use FrontPage to create and manage their websites. However, Microsoft is in the process of discontinuing FrontPage, and we want to keep you up-to-date on the timeframe of this process, as well as options that current FrontPage users have
for the future.

Already, Microsoft has discontinued support and future updates for their Linux/Unix-based FrontPage extensions. This occurred on June 30,2006. You can find more information here:

http://www.rtr.com/fpsupport/

Changing to a Windows-based hosting server is not an option, as Microsoft is also discontinuing support for Windows extensions as well.

We are continuing to support FrontPage extensions for the time being, but we expect to have to discontinue this support sometime after December 1st, 2006. Since FrontPage is a closed-source program and is no longer supported by it’s maker (Microsoft), continuing usage of this product poses a security risk to our servers, as there will be no way to apply security patches to the product as needed. However, there are a number of options for our Gemstream customers who currently use FrontPage.

Microsoft details their own in-house options at this page, called "The Future of FrontPage":

In this document, Microsoft gives two options for replacing FrontPage:
SharePoint Designer and Expression Web. As SharePoint is not available on Linux servers, the only Microsoft option for Gemstream customers is Expression Web. Currently, this product is in beta, and is available for free from Microsoft:

A review of Expression Web can be found here:

Another option for FrontPage users is to switch to Macromedia Dreamweaver by Adobe, which is a powerful web authoring program used by the top designers and developers. It is available here:

Here is a link to a FrontPage Migration Kit available from Adobe that allows you to easily convert from FrontPage to Dreamweaver:

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns in this regard.

Thank you for choosing Gemstream Hosting!

Dang! I guess I’ve got to tell a few people to start learning Dreamweaver. Yea, Microsoft is coming out with new things…but to discontinue a product before a new replacement is out???….I’d think that would loose tons of Frontpage customers.

After this I go this, I sent this this email:

Can I publish your newsletter in whole on my blog at www.jimboykin.com ? This seems like pretty big news?

Am I wrong to think that most hosts will do just you’ve done….does this mean that if people are using things like "shared borders" (frontpage includes) that thier sites will suddenly "break" when a host removes the extentions?

Would you (or someone there) make any additional comments that I can quote in my blog?

Thanks,
Jim Boykin
CEO, We Build Pages

And my response was:

Jim,
What we have found amazing is the amount of confusion out there in this regard among hosts. We have talked to other hosts who have not heard anything about this yet (even though the Linux FP extensions have ALREADY been discontinued), and others who claim they will never remove FP extensions – which in our minds is a serious security risk (what happens when the next
FP security hole occurs?). Believe it or not, we have also talked to hosts who insist that Microsoft is NOT discontinuing FP, even though parts of MS’s website is claiming that they are. It’s a mess, unfortunately. Microsoft isn’t helping matters either, as they are discontinuing one product (FrontPage) before it’s replacement (Expression Web) has been fully released!

We are trying to move is such a way that we can continue to support FrontPage uses as long as possible without introducing unacceptable security risks on our servers. We are also trying to give them as many alternatives going forward as possible.

It is fine with us if you reproduce this in your blog. In fact, we’d love to hear what others are saying – at this point, we haven’t made a final decision as to when we will discontinue the extensions, and we are still trying to gather all relevant information. But we wanted to inform our
customers of what is going on as early as possible.

Sincerely,
Eric
Gemstream Support

Thanks Eric!

But one of my questions didn’t get answered – "does this mean that if people are using things like "shared borders" (frontpage includes) that thier sites will suddenly "break" when a host removes the extentions?"

Anyone know? I wonder how many people are used to only FTPing only with frontpage. How many sites will never get updated… or simple break and die because of this (yes, the web might get prettier….but still)?

Can you digg it?

 

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16 Responses

  1. Jim,

    AFAIK the shared borders are just like the templates in Dreamweaver… if you spit out only html from Frontpage then you should be fine.

    If you want I can test one of your sites on one of my Frontpage-Extension-Free servers πŸ™‚

    cheers!

  2. Jim – love most of what you say but man am I sick of people busting on FrontPage. FrontPage is a tool, much like a paint brush is to paint a picture. If you give a paintbrush to someone who is inexperienced or not talented, you will get an ugly painting. If you give it to a talented artist, you’ll get something marvelous. FrontPage’s problem all along has not been the software. Its been the market. It was aimed at people with no experience and as such 99% of them used the tool to produce ugly, broken sites. By contrast, most people using DreamWeaver have more design/development experience. Sure FrontPage has a few quirks and issues, but I believe most people just jump on the bashing bandwagon without truly knowing its power. Ever tried their Database Results Wizard? Wow! I’ve yet to see anything in DreamWeaver or other products than can help someone with no programming skills or knowledge build a truly dynamic site. Amazing. Sure it has its place and limitations – its not the right tool for everything, but its a pretty decent tool in the right hands. Regardless of its limitations, its a very handy publishing tool and IMO much better than DW on that front. I’ve been using both for years, and each has its time and place. Note that I’ll vouch for 2002 or later, not the earlier versions.

    Okay now that that rant is done, thanks for the updates. I would bet that the only “broken” issues would be when people are relying on FP extensions. That would include:

    – publishing with FP
    – FP-driven forms
    – FP-driven database results pages
    – FP components such as include pages, etc. you can easily convert things like include pages by making your pages asp or php and using a simple include call

  3. John, I just published on your blog seeing the trackback….to the readers here…..I’ll let everyone in on a little secret…..I use frontpage daily (gasp)….my designers won’t touch it…but I use it for its easy of creating thing quickly online…and all my link team members (~15) do all our monthly client reporting using frontpage, my office manager uses frontpage for publishing items for our team and for writers. Almost everyone at webuildpages uses frontpage on a daily basis…except my designers (3).

    I agree with your rant totally….and guilty in that I kicked it, and I use it too. It’s all in fun.

    Any other closet frontpage users that will admit it out there?
    (guessing not).

  4. Hi Jim,

    Approved your comment and deleted the 12 million spam comments. Thank God for decent comment spam filters.

    Follow-up:

    I’ve been using FP for a good 5 years, and DW for only like 3 years. I know FP better, and really the key thing I like is their Database Results Wizard and suite of DB interface tools. It allows a guy who’s not much of a programmer (me, for instance) to build some dynamic sites. To your knowledge, does DW have anything like this? Wizards or WYSIWYG interface to handle basic dynamic site programming-type activities?

  5. Come on Jim! I know the obvious πŸ™‚

    I use DW alot. Let me restate:

    FrontPage has a feature that allows someone who is not a programmer to build websites that are database-driven. Thus, I could have an Access or other more robust product database with 50,000 products in it and I could create one product display page template in FP. Then, using the “Database Results Wizard” and “Database Interface Wizard” in FrontPage I can have my own content management system for editing those 50,000 products directly via the website.

    To throw SEO into this, think 50,000 “pages” instead of products. You can create some pretty cool database-driven dynamic websites without really being a programmer. Sure the programmers will laugh at how they aren’t as cool as their sites, but you can do some pretty cool stuff pretty quickly.

    Lots of pages each with unique content means lots of pages to attract traffic. An example of a dynamic website that a fool with no programming abilities can make with FrontPage:

    http://www.local-attorneys.com/practice.asp?law=Personal%20Injury

    http://www.local-attorneys.com/practice.asp?law=Bankruptcy

    Notice there is one “practice.asp” template page. Then the “law=____” inserts the corresponding content to that page. Also notice that AdSense is smart enough to customize itself to each page.

    Database-driven sites expand the reach of landing pages for SEO far further than static sites. Does DreamWeaver have a tool that can make a fool like me a substitute programmer like this?

  6. I’ve used FP2K for years – FP98 before that. I too tire of the FrontPage bashing but figure it’s done for the same reasons people bash Micro$oft. I’ve gotten to where I just ignore it and go on.

    Rarely do I use the WYSIWYG aspect any more, but I used to. Now FP is more of an organizational too for me and an easy way to publish – some sites via HTTP to the FP Server Extensions – others using FTP (like to my local LAMP server which doesn’t have the FPSE installed.)

    One thing in FP that I have always made use of is the Include file thing to handle common areas of a page. I have a couple of sites that FP2K will not correctly handle XHTML – any tags that are part of an include are erroneously included with a width=”” height=”” attribute that is not valid in XHTML. No surprise there as FP2K was not designed to handle XHTML – only HTML 4.01.

    With all that said, I am currently using the 30 day trial of DW8 – so far so good. The conversions are tedious – first having to make a Library file, then edit each and every page and convert the sections to DW Library assets.

    I will look into the FP converions utility you referenced and see if that helps. Looks like it may only remove the webbot references, but not allow me to replace them with a library reference.

    Anyway – thanks Jim – found you through Google – Google is my friend.

  7. Well I did use Microsoft Front Page 2003 for about 2 years and I decide to stop using him and now I am using Macromedia Dreamweaver. This is much better software, I can’t that Front Page is not but I could not use much more staff which I can use inside Dreamweaver.

  8. I had never built a website before, and I used FrontPage because it came with my computer. I learned what I could from a FrontPage tutorial in which the user makes a little Y2K celebration site, then built the site I was planning and published it from the FrontPage program. The website, http://www.mandolirium.com, represents a band I had, and was constructed to advertise our performances and sell our CD’s, and I’ve left it up to sell albums until they’re gone. I have not built a website since, and suspect I am about to do it again with the same program, which is what landed me here; I was looking something up about the program on Google. because I was looking up something about FrontPage before trying it again. At the time I made the site I was told by a geeky friend to install Opera as an alternate browser, then test the site on both Opera and IE browsers to make sure it all worked OK, which it did. When this old Win98SE computer’s hard drive literally blew up at 1.5 years of age, that was the end of the archived website on the computer, so I have done text and/or photo edits on occasion, usually with html in plain text on Notepad. So…if somebody’s truly curious to see a site built in its entirety by a novice using FrontPage (from Office 2000). We seem to be at ease with what we know; I’ve been given an old copy of DW, and it looks totally confusing to me by comparison! Hope this helps somebody – or at least sells a Mandolirium CD!

  9. I have been using Front Page for aprox. 10 years. I continued to update to the newest versions over the years. I am beyond upset with Microsoft for stopping front page. They should have made a transition software that was similar but removed the extensions. Making the jump to impressions web is way too extreme. I bought that software immediately after I found out they were eliminating FP, but I have not touched it because it scares me.. To complicated for my small mind. I have developed a huge site over ten years at ApparelSearch.com and I do not know which aspects will fall apart. I know the submission forms want work if my host cuts off the extensions. Anyway, I wish Microsoft would change their mind. I am going to give dream weaver a try.

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