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Recommended Host for FrontPage Extensions
FrontPage Server Extensions are a component of Microsoft’s FrontPage Web design software. They enable advanced features without the need for advanced programming knowledge on sites designed in FrontPage.
Microsoft FrontPage was a popular website editing tool that offered What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) creation of HTML content. When it was launched in 2003, it was one of the first generation of web design tools aimed at home users. Despite being replaced by SharePoint Designer, FrontPage extensions are still needed for some older websites.
Why Use FrontPage Designer?
In the early days of the web, most websites were created in text editors. Some people still hand-code HTML to this day. But in the early 2000s, software companies began to develop What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) editors, similar to basic desktop publishing applications.
For Microsoft, this was a no-brainer. The company already had Microsoft Office under its belt, and FrontPage was the ideal addition to the Office family. Microsoft bought Vermeer Technologies Inc in 1996, specifically to get hold of FrontPage, which it rebranded and paired with Office.
The main advantage was ease of use; FrontPage required no knowledge of HTML. It also introduced the idea of templated design, making it easier for users to create consistent layouts.
FrontPage Hosting Features
FrontPage allowed its users to add dynamic content to a website. Basic animations, interactivity and multimedia could all be added using the on-screen interface. This was a powerful addition to the web designer's toolkit, even though the results seem basic compared to the websites of today.
Specifically, FrontPage Extensions gave you:
- Collaborative editing on the same website and/or same web server
- Remote updating of websites and web content from any computer, anywhere in the world
- The ability to add forms and search boxes to a site
- The ability to count the number of page views and display that as a hit counter
This sounds fairly tame by today's standards, but without FrontPage, this was difficult to achieve if you didn't code.
In the background, FrontPage required the web server to have IIS Extensions installed to power these interactive features. These extensions later became known as FrontPage Server Extensions (FPSE). Without them, a FrontPage website would not render correctly. FrontPage Extensions can be installed on Windows or UNIX servers, but they have been criticized for their security problems.
Some features were ahead of their time, despite being flawed. The accessibility checker in FrontPage helped designers to check that their code would run correctly. Ironically, Microsoft has never had the best reputation for standards compliance, but this was a step in the right direction at least. In its latter years, FrontPage included support for ASP.net and VBA macros.
Microsoft phased out FrontPage in 2006, launching SharePoint Designer in its place. But FrontPage Extensions were last updated in 2002. They are still needed for FrontPage websites developed using the software. The Extensions are also used by Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 and 2008.
Early versions of SharePoint Designer retained many of the quirks of the FrontPage software. In later versions, it has been modernized.
This Microsoft support article summarizes the current situation with FrontPage Extensions:
- The company no longer supports FrontPage Extensions on Windows Server 2000
- It supports them on Windows Server 2003, but only until July 2015
- Extensions on Windows 2008 are supported by a different company, Ready-to-Run Software
Some hosts do still support FrontPage and have the necessary extensions installed. This legacy support should keep older sites ticking over. However, Microsoft has also discontinued all support for these extensions on Linux servers, so don't expect hosts to offer this support forever.
If you're a novice web designer, and you haven't created a site before, we wouldn't recommend using FrontPage - and neither would Microsoft - since it's now out of date. There are newer alternatives that are just as easy to use.
Many hosts provide site builder tools that allow you to build an attractive, professional website in your browser, without the need to download any software. Often, site builders are bundled in to shared hosting plans, or offered as a separate product.
FrontPage Extensions Frequently Asked Questions
What is FrontPage?
FrontPage was a web design and management application released by Microsoft from 1997 to 2003. Using FrontPage’s WYSIWYG (“What You See Is What You Get”) editor, you could design a website without any knowledge of HTML code.
What are FrontPage extensions?
FrontPage Server Extensions were plugins that allowed FrontPage users to directly publish their web designs and content from FrontPage to a live website. The plugins needed to be installed on the web hosting server in order for FrontPage’s publishing tools to work.
Does Microsoft still support FrontPage?
No, FrontPage has been discontinued since 2006, and is no longer supported by Microsoft. All official support for FrontPage provided by Microsoft ended by 2014. FrontPage was replaced in 2006 with two separate Microsoft products: Microsoft SharePoint Designer, which is a specialized HTML editor for creating Microsoft SharePoint (a web application framework and platform) sites, workflows and web pages; and Microsoft Expression Web, which is intended for use by web design professionals. However, Microsoft Expression Web has also been discontinued. It’s still available as a free download, but there’s no official support available for it.
What are the benefits of using FrontPage?
Frontpage was an ideal program in the early days of the World Wide Web for creating simple websites without any technical knowledge required, back when such technology was brand new.
Are there any drawbacks to using FrontPage?
FrontPage has been discontinued by Microsoft and is no longer supported by the company. FrontPage’s WYSIWYG editor creates websites with outdated code that doesn’t comply with modern web design standards.
What are the pros and cons of FrontPage Server Extensions?
Frontpage Server Extensions allowed you to connect the FrontPage software directly with your web host server to publish your website, bypassing the need to upload your website manually using FTP or other means. The plugins, however, were plagued with some security issues, including the ability for anyone to easily access and change file passwords. Because of these security issues, and the software now being long outdated, many web hosting companies have disabled the use of FrontPage extensions in order to protect all of their customers’ data.
What are some alternatives to FrontPage?
There are many modern alternatives to Microsoft FrontPage, and the right choice for you will depend on exactly what you would like to accomplish. If you need an easy way to create a simple website with no technical knowledge necessary, you might want to look into a modern CMS (content management system) such as WordPress or Joomla, or a website building tool and hosting platform such as Weebly or Wix. If you’re looking for software for designing websites from scratch, you can give Microsoft Expression Web or Adobe Dreamweaver a try. Another option is Adobe Brackets, a free and open source HTML editor with the ability to make live updates to your website.
Is it difficult to migrate an existing website from FrontPage?
Migrating a website from FrontPage may be a time-consuming task depending on the size and complexity of your website, since it’s not possible to directly export and import your web design and content. Instead, the website must be re-created using your newly chosen software or platform, and your content migrated over manually. The resources required to do so, especially for larger or more complicated websites, may be the reason why FrontPage, though long discontinued, still remains popular among a subset of website owners.
How does Microsoft FrontPage compare with Adobe Dreamweaver?
Adobe Dreamweaver is a feature-rich software application intended as a tool for professional web designers to create design prototypes. It has advanced FTP and jQuery mobile support, can switch between design view (WYSIWYG editor) and code view, and can even be used to develop apps. Its abundance of features, designed for intermediate to advanced users, may be overwhelming to those used to FrontPage, and it can be relatively expensive. If you just need simple software to build a website, Dreamweaver is probably not the right choice for you.
How does Microsoft FrontPage compare with WordPress?
To clarify, there are two different versions of WordPress: the WordPress.com blogging platform, and the WordPress.org software, which you install on your own hosting plan. With WordPress.com, you give up a bit of control over your website for ease of use. WordPress.org requires a bit more technical knowledge, but gives you more control over every aspect of your website. Both versions are free, and WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems available for modern website creation, making support easy to find.
How does Microsoft FrontPage compare with Weebly?
Weebly is a free drag-and-drop website building tool, hosting platform, and WYSIWYG editor that allows you to easily create websites, blogs, and e-commerce sites with no technical knowledge necessary. You can create and host a basic website for free, or purchase a paid hosting plan for more features. Weebly is a good choice for those looking for software to quickly and easily create a simple, modern website, and a great upgrade from FrontPage for non-technical users.
How does Microsoft FrontPage compare with Wix?
Wix is another drag-and-drop website building tool and hosting platform that is a competitor to Weebly. Compared to FrontPage, Wix is also a simple and easy tool for creating simple, modern websites. However, with Wix you’re unable to edit the underlying HTML and CSS code of your site.
What hosts support FrontPage Server Extensions?
Many hosts no longer support FrontPage Server Extensions due to the plugin software being out-of-date and a security risk to their servers and customer data. Some web hosting companies, however, do have FrontPage Extensions available from cPanel but don’t provide technical support for them. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find web hosts that do offer FrontPage Extensions, so you may want to look into updating your website to more modern, secure, and supported software.