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Macromedia Dreamweaver Vs Microsoft FrontPage

If you are new to web design and don’t know where to start, it is probably best that you devote some time initially in selecting the most appropriate web editor. The two most popular WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editors are Microsoft’s FrontPage and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver.

This leads to the often heated and delicate debate, “Which is the best editor?” Fortunately this article informs you of the pros and cons of both and the level of experience that is required. At this stage, I would like to make it clear that I am not an advocate for Microsoft or Macromedia and have substantial experience of using both web editors.

FrontPage Pros
Starting off with FrontPage, the latest version is 2003 and it has been built on top of the highly successful Microsoft Office suite. It benefits from having a similar appearance to Microsoft Word and many of the other Office based programs. The “non technical savv” will appreciate such a close resemblance and an easy-to-use menu system.

In fact FrontPage has many uses similar to a word processor. The functionality for inserting images, tables and formatting text are very similar. So the step-up from a well known word processor, to an equally well known web editor is not that big at all! FrontPage also has an abundance of ready to use templates, particularly useful for the novice user.

Dreamweaver Pros
Macromedia products have been designed specifically with web design in mind and Dreamweaver is the industry standard for web editors.

Dreamweaver CS4

Dreamweaver has a nice blend of advanced tools mixed in with a tasteful graphical user interface.

Dreamweaver 8, the most recent version, is part of the Macromedia Studio 8 suite. The tight integration between applications in the Studio is fantastic. Switching from Dreamweaver to another product such Fireworks, Flash and ColdFusion is an absolute “doddle” and a real time saver too!

Dreamweaver also enables you to build your own custom templates, allowing alterations to hundreds of pages to be made with one single change – great large web sites! It also has an awesome array of database utilities which makes creating dynamic pages a breeze.

Dreamweaver has an extensive collection of advanced tools and may at times be a little too complex for those who wish to merely edit pages. Fortunately, Macromedia Contribute is available and is part of the Macromedia Studio suite and enables easy website maintenance. “Non techies” can edit the content of pages, whilst the coding part of the page is protected – so no banana skins here!

FrontPage Cons
FrontPage’s simplicity and ease of use often generates lots of unwanted code which can be difficult to manage. It has been designed specifically for Internet Explorer (I.E.) and does not fully abide by the World Wide Web Standards. This means the web pages look perfect in I.E. but often slightly out of sync in other leading browsers such as Mozilla Firefox.

Another small hindrance of FrontPage is that web servers need FrontPage extensions to get some features to work.

Dreamweaver Cons
Dreamweaver is not as easy to use and may look a little foreign and intimidating to the novice user. The lack of beginner tools and usability may frustrate inexperienced users. Dreamweaver is also a little more pricey than FrontPage.

Dreamweaver is a professional level web editor. It has been designed to be used in a commercial environment and benefits from having advanced web design tools, is part of a great Macromedia suite, offers power database utilities and provides a wide range of e-commerce capabilities.

FrontPage on the other hand was intended for the average home user with a modest interest in web design. It is ideal for beginners and offers a range of special effects that will keep you busy for quite a while.

I think they both provide value for money and are aimed at different markets. The novice user will benefit from FrontPage, where as the professional web designer will require more advanced tools and is more likely to opt for Dreamweaver.

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Author is a trainer with a Microsoft Office training company, the UK industry leader in its sector. For more information on Dreamweaver Training, please visit

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