Part VII - Front Page Basics

The number one suggestion I would give you concerning Front Page is don't just dive right in and start using it. You will wind up fighting against the program rather than working with it. Take the time to walk through the tutorials, examine the samples, understand what a Web Bot Include is and what Explorer is designed to do.

Front Page Explorer is the starting point to Web Site development and management. For this issue there are only several things I want you to look at in Explorer:

  1. The Explorer can show you your web in either hyperlink or folder view. I prefer folder view to do most of the day to day work because of the file copy, move and rename capabilities. Folder View looks very similar to Windows Explorer with folders in the left panel and files in the right panel.
  2. The _private folder is used to store all pages you don't want included in the Front Page Search engine. We will be storing our Web Bot include pages (discussed below) in here as well.
  3. Use Web Parameters (Tools/Web Settings/Parameters from the menu) to set variables that you can use throughout the Web such as your Contact name. This way if your Contact person changed, you would only have to change the Web Parameter Contact Name value and it would change every page that used it.

The other primary component of Front Page is the editor. This is where the HTML coding takes place by using various WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) tools. There are several tools that are the backbone of Front Page editing and several nuances that are the back breaker of newbies.

  1. Don't try to hand code your page. Use the tools that are available. If you absolutely need to insert HTML code (such as for banner exchanges) use Insert/HTML Markup from the menu. This will insert code that will be ignored by Front Page's error correcting tools.
  2. Create a blank page. Set it's properties for background color, link colors and so on. Save it as style.html and store it in the _private folder. For every page you create in the future, select style.html in the "Get Background colors from" field under the Page Properties/Background menu. Then if you ever want to change the background and colors, you will only have to change them in one place (style.html) and all pages will change.
  3. Set up a separate page for each side menu, logo, message, and navigation bar you want to use. Save them each in _private and use them by selecting Insert/WebBot/Include. Whenever you want to change the menu you only need to change the included menu page and all pages using it will change.
  4. Set up your own template page that has all the components that each page will include (logo, side menu, navigation bar, etc) and save it in _private as well. When you want to create a new page you can open the template and do a save-as to start your new page with the menu and logo already in the right place.

By now you should be getting the idea that careful planning can save you a lot of work in the future. These few pointers will save you many hours of frustration when you first begin using Front Page. In the next issue we are going to move on to a more detailed explanation of other Front Page Issues.