Many people want to create their own web site, but don’t know where to start. There are a dizzying
array of Web site creation software products. You
no longer have to code your site by hand in
Notepad, but you still need to create a Web site that is
compatible across operating systems and browsers. This
article looks at three popular programs so you
know about a few options before you go shopping.
Many people already have FrontPage, whether
they know it or not. If you have Microsoft Office, you
may already have a copy of Front Page lying around on
a CD somewhere. One of Front Page 2002’s main advantages is that it looks like the rest of Microsoft
Office. If you are used to using Office programs
like Excel and Word, you may feel right at home
with Front Page because many of its commands are
similar or exactly the same as the ones you’d use in
other Office programs. For example, if you want to
put your company logo on your Web site’s home
page, you choose Insert|Picture the same way you would
if you were using Microsoft Word. To change a
font, you just highlight the text and click the
appropriate button on the Formatting toolbar. Magically, the
Like PowerPoint and Word, Front Page uses different views to help you work with your site.
Normal view is much like Word’s Page View; it shows you
a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) view of the page you are working on. Another view lets
you check out the HTML code behind the scenes or
preview the page in a browser. Other views let you
see your folder hierarchy and the navigation.
Unlike previous versions, by default, Front
Page 2002 now does not reformat existing HTML
code. This change is important if you are working with
a programmer. In the past, any programming code or HTML FrontPage didn’t "understand" would
get changed or thrown out, generally destroying it.
One thing to consider if you decide to use FrontPage is that when you publish your site,
you need to be sure to work with an Internet Service
Provider (ISP) that has the most recent version of
the Microsoft FrontPage Server Extensions or SharePoint Team Services. Without the server
extensions, many features do not work, such as form
handlers, search forms, and hit counters. Some ISPs
are adamant in their dislike of FrontPage, so be sure
to find one who is agreeable before you attempt to
publish your site.
People who use Adobe products such as
Illustrator and Photoshop will like Adobe Go Live because of
its integration with other Adobe products. Just as FrontPage behaves much like the rest of
Microsoft’s Office, Adobe GoLive functions much like
other Adobe products and is designed to work well
with them. For example, the new version of GoLive
features auto-optimization, which uses Photoshop
technology to automatically resize and optimize
native Photoshop PSD files. It also lets you
drag-and-drop Photoshop, Illustrator and LiveMotion files, so
you can edit the source files within GoLive.
Adobe GoLive is a little more difficult to use
than FrontPage. The software’s target audience is
designers, so it has more of a learning curve. To use
the program, you drag and drop objects onto the
page and then modify their settings using the
context-sensitive dialog boxes. There are a lot of settings, and
to make intelligent choices, it really helps to
understand how they affect the underlying HTML code.
If you like the approach Adobe software uses, you’ll have no problem picking up the nuances
of GoLive. However, if you find Photoshop
confusing, you may not enjoy the similar interface found
in GoLive. User interface preference is a personal
thing, so it helps to try before you buy if at all possible.
Macromedia Dreamweaver is a somewhat high-end program that is really geared toward Web
developers. It assumes that you already have a fair amount
of background knowledge on creating Web sites and understand issues such as Web-safe colors,
browser compatibility, and so on.
If you have a basic understanding of HTML, spending time in Dreamweaver is a good way to
learn a lot more and extend your knowledge to
advanced features like cascading style sheets and complex
table formatting and layering. Dreamweaver offers
excellent documentation with the package, including
an online HTML reference, so you can learn what
all the tags and their attributes do. With the split
code and design view, you can see exactly what your
various activities do to the HTML code on a page.
With Dreamweaver, you can create extremely simple sites that are compatible with virtually
every browser, or highly complex sites that are Flash
Page, Dreamweaver also can be set to leave existing
code alone, so pages with programming code in them
will not be damaged when they are brought into and saved from within Dreamweaver.
Dreamweaver lets you check your files to see if they work in certain browsers, going back to
version 2 of Netscape and Internet Explorer. You
click Browser Check and select the target browser. Dreamweaver then generates a page that shows
you which tags are not supported. This flexibility lets
you create code that’s as compatible as you want it to be.
Because Dreamweaver is a professional-level Web design program, it includes a lot of features that
help you use it in a workgroup, such as file check in
and check out. Dreamweaver also lets you set up
your own template files with editable and locked
regions, so you can keep a consistent layout across pages.
Another helpful feature is the library where you can
save page elements that you want to reuse later.
Web site creation tools have matured over the
last several years, but it still helps to have at least
some knowledge of HTML. The best place to learn
about the Web is on the Web. Check out some of the
free tutorials online and start learning. With a little
time and effort, you’ll be able to create a great Web site.