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FrontPage FAQs

This page is a collection of questions emailed to me about getting started with FrontPage.  It goes along with my FrontPage 101 page, with some inevitable duplication.  I'm hoping this page will also evolve as folks ask us more questions.

I've noticed as I reread this that I've used Nav-bars where FrontPage uses Link-bars.  These are the lists of links that show up on the upper left and across the bottom of all of our pages.  These are automatically generated by FrontPage once the navigation structure has been defined.

For now I've included the following subjects/questions:

  1. How do you plan for future expansion
  2. How do you make a hierarchy chart?
  3. Do you set your page size?
  4. Is there a certain order when building a site?
  5. What page settings should be enabled?
  6. I'm a little confused with the folder structure of parent and children pages.
  7. Can you change the names of websites, files, and folders before and after you publish them?
  8. How do you do folder lists or are they generated automatically as you create new ones?
  9. Do you have to list and link all areas or headings before doing text?
  10. How do you find out what the server's default home page is?
  11. Do you use an editor and if so, which one, why, and how?
  12. Are you free to change pages in any way at a later time?
  13. Does your website contain a blog or other website?
  14. Do you test your pages on your computer or an outside server?
  15. I don't understand the remote website feature.
  16. Is the copyright notice something official you have to apply for?
1 How do you plan for future expansion to keep things from being difficult, when you're not sure what you're doing, or exactly where you think you'll go with your site?   I have some ideas, but things always change.
A Yes, planning for future expansion is difficult.  The trick is when you want to start a new page (or even a new area) ask if this might expand in the future, and if so, how.  I started brewing beer in Brisbane and decided to put up a page on it, but then I realized it could grow so I put the new page in its own folder (which now has several pages in it).  With a bit of planning, you'll do better than us.  As of 2007 have 625 active pages and another 150 redirect pages that we had to put in when we had to move things.  See FrontPage 101 for more on this.
2 How do you make a hierarchy chart?
A Page hierarchy is very important (IMHO) but pretty easy.  You do it under View, Navigation.  There you can drag and drop existing pages into your hierarchy, or even create new pages.  FrontPage will draw the chart for you, graphically.  Note that new pages are created in the root directory, so you'll probably want to move them to more appropriate folders.

You can also put pages in the hierarchy but keep them from showing up in Nav-bars (there's a button in the upper right corner, or you can right-click on the file).  We put all our pages into the hierarchy somewhere but some of our maps don't show up on Nav-bars.

Say, for example, you want to publish Newsletters.  Put the parent page in a Newsletters folder.  Folders under that can be date-based or location based (we use location).  But pages put in those folders don't automatically show up in the hierarchy - they have to be placed correctly in the Navigation view.  We started doing this, but after a while realized that our hierarchy was getting too flat (too many pages directly under Newsletters) which made our nav-bar too long.  So we stuck in an extra layer of which Ocean we were in.  This involved adding just 2 pages: Pacific Ocean Newsletters and Indian Ocean Newsletters (which reside in our Newsletters folder, alongside their parent Newsletters page).  Our existing pages stayed in their folders - we just went to the Navigation view, added the 2 new Ocean pages, and rearranged all our existing pages into the new hierarchy under the Ocean pages as appropriate.  See also: Hierarchical Pages.


3 Do you set your page size from the view menu or do you use a table width with percentage rather than fixed?  I was thinking of using a table to constrain the page size to, say, 1,024 pixels and then using layers and CSS to work within that boundary.  What is your opinion of that and/or how do you do it?  What page size do you use?
A We have decided not to set a page width.  This makes our life harder but we think it gives our viewers a better experience.  It means we have to adapt to (and test) all potential screen (and window) sizes, which we obviously can't.  We assume our clients are using at least 800x600 displays, and we try to make our pages look OK at up to about 1500 pixels wide.  Wider than that and some pictures will "catch" on others, making a bit of a mess (but all data should still be displayed).  We can do a fair amount by enclosing both text and pictures in tables with border="0" width="100%".  Setting width to, say, 1024 will annoy folks with smaller windows (they'll have to use the scroll bar at the bottom) as well as folks with huge screens (because of the empty space on the sides) but will make sure that your site will display correctly.  This is a big subject, so see also Page Width.
4 Is there a certain order of doing things that you would follow when building a site?
A Another big question.  Sometimes we write first and then look for photos to illustrate, and sometimes we look for photos first and write to expand or explain the photos.  We usually copy an existing page, rename and retitle it, include it in the navigation structure, and then strip out the old stuff and start putting in the new.  This makes sure that the boiler-plate is all included (theme, headers, footers, nav-bars, meta-tags, ICRA tags, etc) but it only works when you have an existing good page to copy.
5 What page settings should I have enabled or not in all of the tabs?
A We've generally gone with the defaults, but I don't like DIV tags so we've taken them out.  We don't use the auto-thumbnail feature (but it would probably save time).  Most of the site is in a Verdana or Arial font, but that's decided by the Theme.  Our server uses the FrontPage Server Extensions so we get all that cruft.  I've programmed in some code snippets to make life easier (creating a parent, sibling, or child nav-bar, and the title="Click on the picture to see a larger version" that goes on all our photos).
6 I'm a little confused with the folder structure of parent and children pages.  Do you consider any page that has children under it to be a parent page, so that you have many parent pages which end up being children under your Jon.htm page?
A It's not what I consider.  FrontPage considers any page with children to be a parent of those children.  It may also be a sibling and/or a child of other pages.  Look at it from the page's perspective - below you've got your children, to the sides you have your siblings, and above you have your parent.  Only the very bottom pages aren't parents.  However, this has nothing to do with folder structure (although there's usually a casual relationship, more for our benefit than for FrontPage).  My Brewing Beer page is the parent of all of my beer-making pages, but it's in the ...\Jon\Brewing folder just like its children.  The Fiji parent page is in the same Fiji folder with all its children.  But it doesn't have to be.  All those pages could be sprinkled in a dozen folders and made into parents, siblings, and/or children in the Navigation view.  But that would be difficult to maintain, so we put related files together.  See also hierarchical pages.
7 Can you change the names of websites, files, and folders before and after you publish them?
A You can certainly change whatever you want before you publish.  However, you should not change names of anything after you publish.  Even changing photo names (as we do when we crop existing photos) can be a problem.  Google and all the other search engines will already have scooped them up and will send folks to those old pages and photos.  If you move or rename them, the user will get 404 (page not found) errors and your site will get a bad reputation.  Over half of our visitors come from Google and the other search engines, so this is a big deal.  Those (150) times we've had to move a page (mostly because we accidentally put a space in the file or folder name) we've put a redirect page in the old location that takes folks to the new location.  See the example on my FrontPage 101 page.
8 How do you do folder lists or are they generated automatically as you create new ones?
A We don't need folder lists.  The user does not know, nor need to know, where our files are located.  The Nav-bars (link-bars) that we have all over the site (left side and bottom of each page) are based on page hierarchy in FrontPage, not on folders or file location.  Those Nav-bars are auto generated by FrontPage: position your cursor where you want the Nav-bar to appear and then do Insert, Navigation..., Link Bars, Bar based on Navigation structure.  This will bring up a wizard allowing you to select the style, orientation (vertical or horizontal), type (top, parent, sibling, children, etc) and other attributes for those bars.  We tend to enclose our vertical Nav-bars in a table, and to shrink the font-size of our horizontal nav-bars.
9 Do you have to list and link all areas or headings before doing text?
A Not at all.  You can write text first and then add Nav-bars and whatever other stuff you want.  However, if you try to add a Nav-bar (link-bar) that's based on Navigation structure before you position the page in the Navigation hierarchy, FrontPage will complain.  But you certainly don't have to plan out your entire site before you start.  It's a good idea to give some serious thought to the site structure, but you can start writing pages one at a time if you want.
10 The book says to name a topic folder with the server's default home page.  How do you find out what the servers default home page is, and is that what you do?
A Your hosting company will tell you what default home page name to use.  Different web servers use different default home page names, but it's programmable so they can change it.  When you go to http://HackingFamily.com, the server says to itself "this guy isn't allowed to view the folder structure, which is really what he's asking for, so I'll give him the default page for that location" which is named index.htm for various historical reasons.  Home.htm (or *.html) is also common.  But if you typed in http://HackingFamily.com/Jon it would look in the Jon folder and not find a "default" page, so it would probably say something rude to you.  Perhaps I should have named Jon.htm "index.htm" and put it in the Jon folder to solve this "problem" but I don't think many folks make that mistake.  The advice is probably good, but not really necessary for any except the real home page.  Go with index.htm and if the hosting company you eventually go with wants it named something else, rename it later (in FrontPage, so it will correct all the links!).
11 Do you use an editor and if so, which one, why, and how?
A For the html we just use the editor built into FrontPage.  For our photos, we edit with a delightful bit of freeware called IrfanView.  It crops, tilts, re-sizes, and adjusts colors and compression (file size) quickly and easily, but can't edit just a section of a photo.  It's much faster than the big photo-editors, the learning curve is much better than, say, PhotoShop, and it's free for non-commercial use.  Highly recommended.
12 Are you free to change pages in any way at a later time?
A Yes, we are constantly changing old pages.  We recently got rid of many of the graphic buttons in favor of text nav-bars (to improve performance).  We also went through old pages cropping the photos better and adding captions and larger photos that come up when you click on the thumbnail.  We always have an image of the website on our local computer.  We edit the pages on our computer and FrontPage works out which pages have changed and just uploads the changed pages.  Just don't change the name of any files.
13 Does your website contain a blog or other website?  It seems like that is done occasionally, and in fact we used to have a blog in ours but we didn't continue with it.  Do you have any thoughts or ideas on that?  I just don't know what is or isn't possible.  What are some reasons for possibly having blogs or other websites within a website?  I want to change what's on our blog a little also.  Do you think that might be possible?
A

No, our Newsletters and Sue's logs are about as bloggish as we get.  We can't upload very often, so blogs aren't very practical for us (or anyone cruising on a boat) but some boats try.  Blogs weren't very popular when we left civilization in 2001, so we don't tend to think of them.  You're right, if you have one, you need to continue with it, which can be difficult.  If your old website is still active, FrontPage can suck it down to get the original text, or you can just copy it out of a browser.  Changing old stuff is easy, especially if you're changing servers.

Creating a blog in FrontPage is easy - just edit the blog page, putting your new stuff on top, and republish it.  FrontPage gives you much more control than the automated blog sites.  Since you're republishing the whole page, you can even go back and change previous postings, which you can't do very easily with most automated sites.

But you're right, in any new programming endeavor, it's difficult to know what's possible.  My advice: don't worry about it.  Do what you can now and improve stuff as you learn.  If you go back through our archives you'll see how primitive some of our early home pages were.  Do you know enough to start doing what you want?  If not, learn what you need to and then go for it.  You'll make mistakes and the site will improve as you learn, but at least you'll have a framework to expand upon.


14 Do you test pages on your computer or an outside server?  Can you explain what you use and why and how?
A Yes, I'm a Software and Web Test (and Development) Engineer (among other things) so I test our site a lot.  For less sophisticated websites, this can usually be done right on your development computer without using a server, but if you can then using a local server is better.  Not using a web-server means that server controls like hit counters, comment pages, and some web components won't work.  We have no Apple(7%) or Unix(3%) computers and Netscape(0.7%) isn't used much anymore, so we usually test with Internet Explorer(75%) and FireFox(15%), which covers 90% of our hits.

All browsers, including FireFox and IE, use slightly different rendering engines so they display web pages slightly differently.  For instance, IE will display the text of an alt="blah" tag on mouse-over, but no other browser will.  All browsers display the contents of a title="whatever" tag on mouse-over, but FrontPage makes you put a title tag in manually.

We check all pages at minimum (800 pixel) and maximum (1440 pixel) width to see how the text and photos flow.  We copy-edit the text and check the html to make sure it's OK (formatting, mostly, and checking that tags are closed).  Doing Tools, Recalculate Hyperlinks and then checking all the Reports is essential before publishing.  We also do a quick check of the live website immediately after publishing.  See more on Testing on the FrontPage 101 page.


15 I don't understand the remote website feature.
A The Remote Website view (View, Remote Website) is what you use to publish your site.  FrontPage will then attach to the computer that's hosting your website but with write-permissions enabled, so you can write to the server.  This will require a user-name and password, which your hosting company will supply.  FrontPage will communicate with your server to determine which files have changed, so only those files will be updated.  Note that this means that your computer's clock must be correct whenever you're editing your website.  You can also tweak your site from this view, but I don't recommend that, as it means that the files on the server and the files on your local computer will be out of sync.  See more on this on the FrontPage 101 page.
16 Is the copyright notice that people put on their sites something official you have to apply for, or does everyone just put it there, and is it legal?
A No, the copyright notice doesn't have to be applied for, but it is legal.  Just declaring that the site is copyrighted is usually enough these days.

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