Microsoft FrontPage 2002

Using Microsoft's FrontPage to create a Web site has always been a bit like riding a bike with training wheels - you'll eventually get where you need to go, but don't try tackling the Tour de France. The latest version, FrontPage 2002, adds rudimentary site-tracking and e-commerce tools useful for small businesses, and the program's tighter integration with Microsoft's Office XP suite makes it a great intranet solution for workgroups - but it's still not quite up to snuff for running a large Web site.

FrontPage 2002 can create handy usage analysis reports that show which pages on your site generate the most traffic, which operating systems and Web browsers your site's visitors use, and where visitors came from (by identifying referring domains and URLs). If you use a Web hosting service, you'll have to work with it to set up this feature.

Microsoft includes FrontPage 2002 with its Office XP Professional suite, and this version is tied closely to such Office applications as Office Clipboard, Excel and Access, as well "as the new SharePoint Team Services. You can copy and paste data "from any Office program directly into a FrontPage document. Even FrontPage's drawing tools now look and work more like those in PowerPoint.

FrontPage is prevented from joining the ranks of professional Web-development tools by the inefficient HTML code it generates, which eats up storage space, slows downloads, and makes editing the code nettlesome. Microsoft claims to have made the program's publishing speed two to three times faster, but one look at the source code that FrontPage 2002 generates is still enough to put HTML professionals off their lunch.

Current FrontPage users who up-grade will benefit from the new site-tracking and reporting features, and workgroups that use Office will find it a useful tool for creating intranets. Nonetheless, FrontPage 2002 won't catapult you into the ranks of professional Web designers.Microsoft FrontPage 2002
Price: $362
Phone: 13 2058
URL: www.microsoft.com.au

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Dennis O'Reilly

PC World
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