LIS 505 - Microsoft Frontpage introduction

Microsoft Frontpage is a WYSIWYG HTML editor, with some additional features.

FrontPage has 3 modes - Normal, HTML, and Preview - which you can select by clicking on the appropriate tab. The default mode, Normal, lets you edit a web page in a nearly WYSIWYG form. HTML mode lets you edit much of the actual HTML code directly (though Frontpage protects certain code against editing and changes some code when you save the file). Preview mode shows you what the page will look like in the browser somewhat better than Normal mode. In addition, a "Preview in Browser" option allows you to view the page in your choice of browser.

If you examine a new page in HTML mode, its contents look fairly basic. FrontPage does insert three meta tags, the last of which specifies the character set used, and a title element, but there is not even a !doctype tag at the beginning. The code can rapidly start getting more complex, however, once you begin adding special features to your page.

You can use the "Page Properties" dialog (accessible by right clicking in Normal mode or, oddly, via the "Background..." item in the "Format" menu) to set various general properties of the page, including title, background color, and meta tags.

You can access a lot of the formatting options in the same way you would in a word processing package like Microsoft Word. For example, you can choose different styles, such as various levels of heading, from a drop-down list in the formatting toolbar; and you can switch to bold and italics with Control-B and Control-I. The huge selection of fonts available is a bit misleading, however, since a font will display correctly only on a computer on which it has been installed. On the other hand, you will notice that the sizes are limited to accord with the restricted set available in HTML.

The formatting toolbar also contains buttons for setting up simple, single-level lists.

Paragraph tags are inserted automatically; you can insert a <b> tag using the "Insert" menu. The "Insert" menu also allows you to insert a wide variety of special characters and symbols, which FrontPage will translate automatically into character entity references if necessary. Unfortunately, you cannot immediately tell whether various browsers will be able to display the correct characters.

You can insert an image from the clip art collection, from a file, or directly from a scanner. When you save your HTML file after inserting an image, FrontPage will prompt you for how you want to save the local copy of the image (unless the image is already in the same directory). At this point, you have the option of renaming the image file, for example.

You can also use the "Insert" menu to insert a new hypertext link or modify an existing link, in both cases using the "Hyperlink..." item; or you can use the shortcut Control-K or the button on the toolbar.

Using "Theme" from the "Format" menu, you can select a graphic theme to apply to your page. The only change that you will see in HTML mode is the addition of another meta tag; but, in Preview or Normal mode, you will see that the page has an image tiled in the background and that various images are used for bullets and horizontal rules. If you just copied the HTML code into another file and saved it, you would not see these results in a browser. When FrontPage saves the file, however, it makes a number of changes to the HTML code that you see in HTML mode and also prompts you for how to save the graphics that go with the theme in your local directory. You can see what has happened to the HTML code by previewing in the browser and then viewing the source.

You can get rid of all the changes introduced into the HTML file by opening it in FrontPage, setting the theme to "(No Theme)", and saving it again.


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Last updated August 28, 2003.
This page maintained by Prof. Tim Craven
E-mail (text/plain only): craven@uwo.ca
Faculty of Information and Media Studies
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario
Canada, N6A 5B7