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Should You Use Dreamweaver Or Frontpage?

Comparing Dreamweaver vs Frontpage

There are two major WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) web page editors available for beginners: Microsoft FrontPage and Macromedia Dreamweaver. So the question is which one is better?

This article is not intended to put down Dreamweaver or FrontPage users. I simply want to analyze both applications from different vantage points, based on Internet research, experience of other users, and my years of HTML coding experience.

To be quite honest, I am not a fan of either of them. In our business, we regularly use AceHtmlPro. But the fact is that many of our customers do use either FrontPage or Dreamweaver which is why our employees must be familiar with both.

While writing this article, I talked to our staff and did some research about both web editors and I came up with some facts I'd like to share with you.

Advantages and disadvantages of FrontPage

  1. FrontPage, as all Microsoft products, has so many ready-made templates and ready to use web authoring solutions that you have to admit it is easier for a beginner to use FrontPage to build his first website.

    You can create a simple personal or business website with just a few clicks of the mouse, and all you will need to do next is to enter your text and images.
  2. The best thing is HTML pages created in FrontPage look exactly as they will appear in MS Internet Explorer. The bad thing is that they look perfect ONLY in Internet Explorer!

    You can customize FrontPage to get rid of certain poorly-used tags, but it requires a bit of hand coding to adjust the pages to look great in Netscape or Opera. More good news for FrontPage users: about 93% of all internet browsers use Internet Explorer 5 or higher.
  3. As a Microsoft application, FrontPage is better at handling ASP pages, which are the standard when using Windows based hosting and windows based programming.
  4. FrontPage perfectly interacts with other MS Office applications as well. For example, you can easily cut and paste a nifty chart from Excel into the FrontPage working area.
  5. By default, FrontPage uses tables that have a fixed width which can sometimes be a problem if you need to create tables of a different width.
Advantages and disadvantages of Dreamweaver
  1. With Dreamweaver, you can create your own templates and use them to edit hundreds of pages on your website with a single mouse click.

    Although Dreamweaver adds a few comment tags to the HTML files to distinguish editable and non-editable areas, I read in a webmaster forum that people sometimes experience problems applying a template to more then 700 pages because they run out of memory (but I have never had the opportunity to test that).
  2. Pages created with Dreamweaver typically result in cleaner HTML code, and they look almost perfect in Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Opera.
  3. Dreamweaver does simply amazing things with SSI files and other Server Side Include technology. PHP code looks much nicer in Dreamweaver, but when using ASP scripts FrontPage is much better.
  4. Dreamweaver interacts with other macromedia products much better than Frontpage.
  5. In most cases, both web page editors display CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) correctly. But if you enter a style attribute for <td> twice in Dreamweaver, it will make your page look terrible, and you will only be able to partially preview your page before it encounters this error. FrontPage on the other hand handles such errors with ease.
There are many other advantages and disadvantages of both editors, and if I wrote about all of them I would probably have to write a book instead of an article, but the ones mentioned here are the most important.

My personal opinion is that FrontPage is ideal for beginners since it provides so much help and tons of templates. You should switch to Dreamweaver after you become more comfortable with HTML code.

If you're serious about web design, you need to reach the hand coding level as it still best way of creating great-looking web pages. Hand coding gives you the freedom of using tags and styles exactly as you want to use them.

Always remember to validate your HTML code, whether it was created with FrontPage, Dreamweaver, or by hand-coding. You will be surprised just how many errors are generated during the coding process, from broken links to invalid tag attributes.

About the author:

Oleg Lazarenko is the Production Manager of Metamorphosis Website Design Studio.

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