The Future of FrontPage

Many of you have probably heard that Microsoft has decided to drop FrontPage. This announcement has resulted in a number speculation articles and blogs that seem to have created more confusion in the market.
I agree that the dialogue and viewpoints are important, but often they don’t tell the whole story, just as my short article will only provide a brief viewpoint from the PixelMill perspective. As always, I encourage you to do the appropriate level of research and make the analysis you feel is best for your situation.
I have been asked a number of times, “What’s PixelMill going to do now that FrontPage is going away?” and “What will happen to FrontPage sites?” My answer is “Don’t worry.” Microsoft has not left FrontPage users high and dry. In fact, they have done everyone a big favor and produced two new products that take advantage of the editing ease of FrontPage and combined it with the more important standards being developed by the web building community. SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web Designer are both solid replacements to FrontPage. SharePoint Designer has been positioned as the enterprise solution to be used with Microsoft’s SharePoint solution, and Expression Web Designer has been positioned as the new “designer’s” tool.
In mid-March, I attended Microsoft’s Mix06 event to learn more about these upcoming tools as well as many of the other updates coming from Microsoft later this year and early next year. I could write a novel about the many different elements of this conference, but I’ll let you experience some of this yourself by viewing the Mix06 keynotes available at the Mix06 site.
The one important point I took away from the event, in relation to the changes with FrontPage, is that both new products are a natural progression for FrontPage users. Beyond the ease-of-use expected from FrontPage, both products will help users move away from the proprietary elements common with FrontPage, and both will do an excellent job of helping you build your site using Cascading Style Sheets with an integrated CSS editing environment, take advantage of Web Standards (i.e., HTML 4.01 and XHTML 1.0), and help you be compliant with Accessibility issues. Even better, the introduction of the two products now gives you more choices. In later issues, we’ll go into more detail about both of these new tools and the benefits they introduce.
What will PixelMill Do?
PixelMill will support and build for both SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web Designer. We feel that both products will have their own set of customers and that PixelMill can offer both groups valuable solutions tailored to their choice of editor. In the coming months we will be providing more articles about these products and how many of the newer templates we offer will likely work even better in these new editors.
What about existing FrontPage sites/users?
“Don’t worry!” I say. 😉 We have been working with the new SharePoint Designer 2007 beta for a couple of months. We can say with 100% confidence that this product will work with existing FrontPage sites, and it also still maintains many of the familiar FrontPage tools. We have even tested a number of our oldest products with SharePoint Designer, ones that use Themes and FrontPage navigation bars, and they all worked as expected.
There were a few small nuances, but that is to be expected from any upgrade. We still have six to twelve months before final release, but we’re confident that any changes to the product will not affect the ability to work with existing sites. The information I received from the Mix06 event was inconclusive about how it would work with existing FrontPage sites, but my guess is that many of the older FrontPage features that support Themes, etc. will likely not be in the product. But, don’t quote me on that. Either way, Expression Web Designer appears to be a solid solution and definitely geared to the graphic designer and Visual Basic developers. As soon as possible we will follow-up with additional information in regards to existing FrontPage sites in Expression web Designer.
We’re very excited about both of these new products. We like the direction that Microsoft is taking with both offerings, and we’re confident that you’ll be happy with PixelMill’s decision to support both in our upcoming products and educational materials.
From the April 2006 – Part 2 PixelMill Newsletter

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