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Microsoft FrontPage 2003 vs.
Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004
Notes as of 9/16/03

These notes are presently based on FrontPage 2003 BETA 2 (11.4920.4920) (FP) and the released version of Macromedia Dreamweaver MX version 6.1 (DW) Dreamweaver MX 2004.  Both are widely-used WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get... perhaps, better stated as what you see is what you might get) graphical Web page editors/web site managers.  I intend to update these notes as I learn more.  They are currently being published with FP (7/31 now being published with DW). These are rough notes and subject to frequent changes.  Please read them in that vain.  If you want to start at the beginning of this exercise go to the end of the page.  Larry

9/16 Now to see if the memory hole has been fixed. Recalculated cache' again. Again, it was fast. Did it again and it was fast. Once more and wathed it in the task manager. Memory for dreamweaver.exe held in the 70 MByte range. I will try other things in an attempt to break it over the next few days. Templates and Library items list almost immediately in the Assets window, much faster than DWMX. Changed on library item and that updated 789 pages. the update seemed faster. Synchronized the site. Dreamweaver memory use went up to about 95 MBytes. While it was uploading files, I opened bunches of other applications. No problems; FTP seems faster. Disk activity is much lower. They may have fixed the memory problem with this version.

9/16 In DW MX exported my site settings, backed-up the site, installed the DW MX 2004 30-day trial, imported my site settings. It recalculated the site cache' (it seemed to do it much faster). No problems performing these steps.

9/11 Downloaded the 30-day trail of Dreamweaver MX 2004.

Dreamweaver MX 6.1 below this point; Dreamweaver MX 2004 above.

8/28 Looking at relative hyperlinks more... If a DW html page is moved or copied to another directory in the Site window, relative hyperlinks are not adjusted. The only way I discovered so far get them to autoadjust is to open the page and then save it to the new directory. This is really poor and will produce many errors. FP does all of this automatically. 9/16 Dreamweaver MX 2004 fixed this on my computer. Moving or copying the file in the Dreamweaver Files pane automatically adjusts relative hyperlinks.

8/27 Sent a follow-up message to Macromedia as I had no indication that the first one had not been read yet.

8/26 Be careful when cutting and pasting paragraphs between pages in different directories in DW. Unlike FP, DW does not adjust relative hypelinks when this sort of thing is done. Dreamweaver MX 2004 did not correct this problem.

8/26 I sent Macromedia an e-mail with the details on the memory hole problem and specifics on my system.

8/25 Called Macromedia tech support about the memory hole problem. A tech ("HP") finally picked-up after waiting about 10 minutes. After getting no where with him, I insisted on talking to someon in software. "Andrew" picked up. We talked for quite some time. He asked that I send him details on the memory hole problem and specifics on my system. the message was sent with Read receipt requested checked.

8/25 I can see no way of changing the color of the border around images in DW short of doing it manually in the code view. One can do it in the design view in all versions of FP.

8/25 Macromedia announced Dreamweaver MX 2004. It is supposed to be available during the middle of September 2003. A quick look at the features does not indicate that this upgrade is a major one and may not be worth the $200 upgrade cost.

8/7 I was watching DW refresh the cache last night with poolmon.exe and could see it run right over 1 gig of regular and virtual memory. I was working with 865 uncloaked pages. That didn't produce a prompt that Windows was increasing virtual memory. I waited long enough for it to release memory back to the pool and refreshed the cache again. That drove it up over 1.4 gig almost immediately and produced the prompt. I am beggining to wonder is there is a possiblity that the people who are having this problem are those with Western Digital Special Edition hard disk drives. Maybe they are too fast...

8/6 Moved the web site off the Linux server to my local drive. Set teh remote as the testing server. Testing in browser is now much slower and it didn't fix the memory problem. FP comes with it's own server and doesn't have any of these problems.

8/6 Well, I still have memory problems (you may not believe it, but I got a virtual memory warning pop-up right after typing "problems"), but fewer of them, with 512 MB in the computer. Macromedia's forums show there are other people with this problem, but has no solutions. I don't like spending $326.65 software that doesn't work and then to spend another $88.99 for a memory upgrade that I didn't need for anything else. I'm torqued!

8/3 A most discouraging day... After spending all day yesterday finishing-up converting the static pages of my FP web site to a DW site in templates, I discovered today that DW can't handle my web site as it is currently structured. I have about 1,400 HTML pages in the normal part of the site and another 3,000+ in archives. I have 256 MB in a Windows 2000 computer. DW bogs down and runs-out of memory after caching about 700 pages. Increasing the Windows virtual memory doesn't fix it. It runs-out even with 2 gigs of virtual memory. I tried doing it again on a fresh install of Windows 2000 on a scratch drive and with only DW installed (more time down the tubes). It gets to about 1200 pages. Also, it takes a lot of time.

There has to be a way to divide-up a large DW web. FP handles this sort of thing with subwebs. A subweb can do a relative link to pages below it. I can't do that by dividing my local web into smaller ones.

8/2 FP can generate an HTML page with a site map for a web site of subweb (a folder within a web that behaves like an autonomous web site). Although, DW can generate a graphical map of a site and save it to an image file, I see no capability to generate a web page containing a site map with hyperlinks to individual folders and pages in the site.

8/1 One cannot copy and paste Excel spreadsheet charts directly to DW. What was once a simple copy and paste from Excel to FP is now copy the chart in Excel, Open Corel Photo-Paint, paste into Photo-Paint, convert the image to an 8-bit pallet, save as a .gif in the appropriate folder in the DW local site, and drag the image to the document, sigh! Or use the method described in Dreamweaver: Importing Data and Charts/Graphs from Excel. I use Corel Photo-Paint 7, which was copyrighted in 1996. One would think that Macromedia could accomplish the same sort of interoperability in the intervening seven years. One cannot copy and paste from Corel to DW either. I can do that, and often did, with Corel and FP. That is a serious shortcoming. Excel to DW is an inconvenience, as I don't do it often. 9/16 Dreamweaver MX 2004 did not fix this shortcoming.

8/1 I have not received a response to the tech support request I sent to DW on 7/17/03 (see below).

7/31 FP has an spell checker that can flag a misspelled word on the fly (as soon as it is typed). It can also check whole pages or chunks of highlighted text. DW does not have a spell check as you type capability. However, it does have a good spell-checker that checks a whole page or a block of highlighted text at one time. In this department FP is better for me because I sometimes forget to run the spelling checker.

7/31 This page is now being published with DW. I am converting one of my three web sites, this one, to DW and will probably leave the other two in FP for at least the near future. It's a lot of monotonous work to convert a site with over 11,000 files (not counting the dynamic pages) to templates.

7/31 It turns-out that DW does have an equivalent of FP's Preview mode. The Preview mode displays a page pretty much as it would look in a browser in main document view window pane of FP. In DW click View, View Aids, Hide All. A major difference is that the page can be edited in DW and not in FP's Preview Mode. I am finding however that I am rarely using this mode because the pages with Hide All deselected are an accurate indication of what a (static) page will look like in a browser.

7/25 FP starts-up on my computer faster than DW.

7/25 If when editing a page you find that you have a sluggish keyboard, change Layout View to Standard View in the Layout tab.

7/25 FP has a simple command to remove all formatting from a paragraph, etc. Format, Remove Formatting.  This is very handy when converting to CSS style sheets.  I can not find the equivalent in DW. One has to individually remove font, size, color, bold, etc.

7/25 When pasting from a web page on the Internet to to one in FP, FP page pastes the format and hyperlinks, etc. and then provides the means to keep of not keep the formatting, etc.  DW just pastes the text.  However, in FP one must either right click a text selection and choose Insert Hyperlink or click Insert, Hyperlink to open a Window to do the function and click still another button in that Window to specify how the page will open.  In DW the hyperlink is entered directly in the Link box in the Properties at the bottom of the display and the way the page opens (target) is displayed in the same area in a select box.  It's  faster to enter and change in DW.

7/20 Installed the DW 6.1 up dater (14.7 MBytes).  Bug fixes, performance fixes, and collaboration functions.  We'll see tomorrow if it helps.

7/20 I wonder what leaving the DW comments and special markups on the pages on my operational site is going to my search engine data base and search results...  Use FP page to publish?

7/20 I took the time to do the same thing in FP as I did yesterday with DW: build and test a template for my four column home page.  Laying-out the complex page template with FP 2003 was nearly as frustrating as with DW; however, FP was a little easier. I think some of that is because the process is similar to DW's and I learned quite a bit yesterday.  I am also more familiar in general with the FP GUI. The process was made even easier by being able to copy stuff from the DW code view of the template I made in DW.  But, FP has a has few more minor features than DW and it seemed somewhat easier. Still it took about three and half hours to make and test the template.

Like DW, FP can't save the page meta tag info (description, keywords, etc.) when attaching a template to an existing page.

As usual, the pages made with FP templates looked terrible in Netscape.  That's what you get, I presume, when you buy a product from a company that seems to be going out of it's way to keep you boxed into their proprietary corner. Over the years, I have wasted countless hours trying to make web pages compatible with the various browsers. The ones made in DW look very good when tested on Netscape 4.7, a big plus for DW!

That's interesting.. The home page made in FP with the FP template I made today and published with settings as they are in the picture below is (stripped of all the garbage--I checked the remote copy) is 45.3 KB, while the one done with the same content and in the same fashion in DW and published without removing the proprietary tags (DW Special Markup) is 38.3 KB.

7/20 Considerations when applying a template to existing pages. "Existing documents to which a template is applied lose any document-specific information already contained in the head of the document. Except for the title, any meta tags, such as keywords, are lost."  That is a severe bummer when one has thousands of pages in an exiting site pages.  FP 2003 has a new Optimize HTML preferences capability that makes this easy.  I am starting to have second thoughts about my decision to purchase DW.  I don't see how

7/20 I see now that one can export a site to another site without the template and other DW-specific tags (8/1/03 correction: export strips just the template special markup and not the other special markup).  That seems rather inconvenient and very awkward.  Or, one can also can do a Clean-up HTML, but then the page loses it's template relationship.  Macromedia can make a big deal about removing all of the FP garbage and then does not provide good tools for removing their own.  As far as I can see FP has fixed the FP garbage problem and I don't see it doing things to the code in pages that you don't want done.

7/20 Rearranged this log/notes so it is in reverse chronological order--newer entries are at the top.

7/19 Well, I spent about 10 hours making my first home page template.  This is hard stuff to master.  The most annoying message I've seen in a long time is:

This happens frequently when working with nested tables DW in the layout mode.  I saw it a lot when something I did in a nested table made a table in which it was nested wider than I wanted it to be and I tried to decrease the width of the outer table to bring everything back to the overall size that it it was.  If you are working on a complex page with many tables, it can reek havoc on everything.  Usually, if you click OK the problem isn't fixed and no help is forthcoming to identify where the problem is located.  I must have given-up started my home page template all over again a half a dozen times.  I had similar problems with FP templates.  This business of having to use tables to layout pages and the inconsistencies between browsers in rendering them is probably the single biggest headache in designing web pages. The positioning stuff in recent versions of HTML is no better; in fact it is worse.  It's hard to imagine that a language and browsers that are used to layout and display pages have not been fixed yet so there are hard-fast rules that make the job easy and produce predictable results.

7/19 Used on of my tech support requests: "How do I remove all the local template tags when publishing?  That is, I want to keep the template tags in the local copy of the document and remove them (and anything else that isn't necessary) automatically when publishing. I would like to make that the default way of publishing, but I can't find such a setting in preferences, on your web site, or elsewhere. Thank you for your assistance.  Larry"

7/19  I spent $326.50 for DW.  All that entitles you to in the way of support without paying more is two e-mails requests for info/solutions within the first 90 days. That's poor, folks, very poor.

7/18 FP can open and import web sites or parts of web sites on the Internet.  I don't see this capability in DW.

7/18 'DW has a Validator to find out if page code has tag or syntax errors. It supports many tag-based languages, including several versions of HTML, XHTML, ColdFusion Markup Language (CFML), JavaServer Pages (JSP), and Wireless Markup Language (WML). It can also validate an XML document.'  FP does not have this capability. In the past I used one of the HTML validation web sites to perform this function, but that was always a time-consuming hassle and I did not trust the results. I stopped doing it a long time ago.  DW's Validator is finding a lot of bad code in the web pages authored with FP, some of them major.  This function is a big plus for DW.

7/18 I don't see where DW has FP's function to view links to individual files.  This capability in FP, for example, allows one to view links to individual image files and to quickly delete garbage with no links.  DW function to identify orphaned files requires that the entire site.  That works OK for me.

7/17 Yup, dreamweaver is a memory hog.  Ran out of virtual memory and the computer slowed way down when cloaking the forum archives  folder with about 3,000+ files in it.

DW cannot compress a resized image directly like FP.

I significantly reduced the cache problem by clocking large segments of the site that rarely change; e.g., the forum archives with over 3,000 pages.  It's now enabled.

7/17/03  DW's cloaking function is limited to folders.  It cannot cloak individual files like FP's don't publish.  On the other hand, FP can't do folders, but it can do all the files in a folder all at once.  It takes a long time to cloak a folder with a lot of files (thousands) in it.

DW is a memory hog.  Or, is it because I've got about 12,000 files in the web site?  Guess I am going to have to upgrade memory to 512 meg or start staying up later.  Larry

This might be the source of the performance/memory running low problems:

Dreamweaver Tech Note:

" When the site cache option is enabled, Dreamweaver will build the cache file in memory and save it on the hard drive. The time to create the site cache varies based on the size of the site, so enabling the site cache option could be a performance hit for large sites. When the option is disabled, the site cache is not used."

Disabled it.

Reworked our php/MySQL-based Forums (yabbse) with DW on the local web.  Revised the template to take it out of frames and installed some mods.  Works well and reduces the chance of disrupting the remote version.

7/14 Received and installed DW. Setup my web site on a Red Linux 9.0 server with php and MySQL. DW needs a server to view pages in a browser.  It cannot view them directly in the Code/Design Window like FP.  However, FP's direct view function does not always look the same as it does in a browser, even IE 6.

7/10 It did. Ordered Dreamweaver from www.softwaremore-usa.com via pricegrabber.com for $326.50.  Softwaremore-usa's web site is professional, easy to use, and they don't charge for UPS ground shipping.  I had no problems with this, my first order from Softwaremore-usa.

4/1  Layout Tables and Cells.  Help, About: "A layout table is the framework you create for the page layout. Layout cells are the regions within that framework that contain the content in a page, including text, images, Web parts, and other elements. Together, layout tables and cells represent horizontal and vertical regions that users can add to Web pages, which can provide a sophisticated visual structure for your content."

3/31 Templates. Played around with new FP template capability.  'In earlier versions of FP, you might have used shared borders and include pages to create parts of a Web page that were common to one or more pages in a Web site. You can now use Dynamic Web Templates instead. Unlike shared borders, pages that are attached to Dynamic Web Templates share an entire layout.' At a glance, it is similar to Dreamweaver MX capability, which I tinkered with last week, and it is very nicely done.  I was able to "easily" make template and apply it to exiting pages.  A complex template becomes much more difficult to master.  Web site templates do work without Microsoft's Sharepoint Services installed on the web server.  I do have the FrontPage 2000 extensions running on the server.  Templates do not seem to require them either.  I'll dig into templates more after learning about the new page layout features.

FP has what looks like at glance to be a very good template capability. I plan to do a detailed comparison with Dreamweaver MX as part of the process of determining whether I upgrade to FP 2003 or buy Dreamweaver. I have upgraded to FP every single time/upgrade since before MS owned it, but may switch this time. The ability to work php code in Dreamweaver plus a lot improvements in the MX version may tip the scales in favor of Macromedia despite its anticipated higher cost.

I have downloaded and tried the various trial versions of DW for few years now.  Previously, the Graphic User Interface (GUI), with it's floating menus and slow performance, turned-me-off in short order.  Also, the trial versions were run on a smaller monitor and a slower computer (500 MHz) than I have now (1.6 GHZ, more memory, and a much faster hard disk drive).  I have a 17" now.  However, DW was noticeably slower than FP on the older computer.

3/30/03 Installed FP 2003 Beta.  No problems.

FP Server Extensions have been discontinued. FP 2003 will work with older versions of the extensions.  It will work with older versions of the extensions and Sharepoint Services.  I tried it with 2000 version of the FP extension on a FreeBSD server and it worked like FP 2000 in this regard.

I have been using FP (all versions) since 1996 to author this web site.  I have used various HTML code and text editors to make changes to the dynamic, php/MySQL sections of the site

Copyright, Disclaimer, and Trademark Information Copyright © 1996-2006 Larry F. Byard.  All rights reserved. This material or parts thereof may not be copied, published, put on the Internet, rewritten, or redistributed without explicit, written permission from the author.