Frontpage or Dreamweaver?
Wednesday, May 1, 2002
I built several sites from the ground up with Frontpage, starting with 97 and working through XP. I work in a small company, wearing lots of hats. The best part of Frontpage is that it's so easy to quickly create pages. I used Frontpage Includes extensively to ease maintenance, as well as the checkin/out feature for multi-user editing. I got really good with using Frontpage to get good work done.
However, Frontpage's database integration just plains stinks. It's db-connect tool is all wizarded, allowing no customization, and is hard to understand. I actually learned ASP by using Access' save as ASP wizard, which produced unbelievably lean code, and took off from there.
I tried Dreamweaver Ultradev after several years of using Frontpage, and found the interface really different and non-intuitive for me. But, the ease-of-use with ASP pages was so incredible, I took the time to learn it. Turns out, once you learn it, it's even easier to work with than Frontpage. Sometimes in Frontpage you get really frustrated dealing with nested objects of like kind, where the right-click menu doesn't give you what you want, and you end up digging into the code. That's no problem for me, but I can't expect others on my team who are less technical to handle it.
The other problem with Frontpage that started cropping up is with the Extensions and Includes. If something went wrong with the Frontpage Extensions, the site just went haywire. Not just didn't work, it acted wierd. And there isn't anything to do other than rebuild the Extensions a couple times until it starts working. The other trouble was when the site grew to several hundred pages, updating the common header started to take a really long time.
So, I use Dreamweaver Ultradev, started using server-side includes instead, but left my team still in Frontpage, and am building my system to be Radio-like with in-browser editing.
All that to say Frontpage was nice for getting started, but simply doesn't scale well. Dreamweaver Ultradev has a steeper learning curve but supports CSS better, displays server-side includes in design mode, and has waaaay better database tools. Of course, Dreamweaver is also a few hundred dollars more expensive, which makes a difference.
(I actually wrote this as a comment on Scott Johnson's Fuzzy Stuff weblog)
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