Monday, August 27, 2007

Expression Web and existing FrontPage sites; McAfee note


Late in 2006, Microsoft announced that it was replacing its popular Web content editor Front Page with a much more expansive product, Expression Web, which is part of am Expression Studio comprising other products including Blend, Design, Media. The basic link on Microsoft is this: The product is moderate in price, $299 for a new license. Yes, I suppose we could call it "self expression web" but the Microsoft documentation talks a lot about work teams in different locations.

The Microsoft announcement on the FrontPage link is this:

The new Expression Web emphasizes websites to much more stringent W3C standards, and uses tools found in Visual Studio. It tends to develop “standards based” web sites physically organized in a way that parallels the logic of the content, where as manually developed sites (like my doaskdotell.com) tend to have directory structures that seem artificial compared to the content and depend on links to connect the dots. Older mainframe database management systems (like IMS and IDMS) use logical relationships to connect data in a way analogous to some older content-rich sites. The site also offers facilities that make data from a site easier to display on other devices (such as mobile) or for handicapped access. Expression offers multiple task panes and can work with an ASP.NET environment. It emphasizes working with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), instead of direct HTML, for formatting and layout. Webbots do not exist in Expression Web.

The most recent version of FrontPage was issued in 2003. Microsoft stopped selling it in late 2006. One question that comes up is, what if one has an existing site managed at a shared hosting ISP through Front Page extensions, and one’s machine breaks, or one has to travel with another machine? Can one still update the site? If one used WS-FTP, it might break the extensions. I am not sure what happens if the same CD is loaded onto another computer in terms of licenses (the user might get a trial of 50 accesses). But since Microsoft offers a free trial Expression Web, can one use that? It’s actually pretty hard to find the answer in Microsoft’s own site, and some website message boards suggest that this cannot be done, and that a webmaster might as well start over with a “professional” standard based site; he or she ought to anyway. I found a position paper here on the web:
http://download.microsoft.com/download/f/f/2/ff2d736a-9ec6-4e3b-b094-d782aa7cda72/Microsoft_FrontPage_to_Expression_Web.doc

It is a doc, so I’ll let the user past it in to the browser. The white paper says on p 2

“If your existing site uses Web components, you can still edit those components using Expression Web. However, you won’t be able to add new Web components.”

So, the short answer seems to be, Expression Web is downward compatible, and can update an existing site, but it won’t allow adding any more FrontPage web components. Furthermore, it does not require or use “extensions,” which are specialized scripts that can “break” easily. I remember going through the exercise with a friend at work on my older site in early 1999 (when the boss wasn’t looking). It wasn’t easy and took a week (with calls to Microsoft) to resolve.

Expression Web offers MSNBC components, feeds and links. This would seem to lead to the possibility of networked journalism. It appears that this may work only with sites built with Expression Web.

One other recent matter: On July 30, McAfee replaced its Security Center, which seems to have affected some customers, even causing loss of Internet connectivity. It offers a Virtual Technician for resolution. https://us.mcafee.com/root/fix.html You can go here to find it for download. Also, look here "http://ts.mcafeehelp.com/?siteID=" and look for the “top ten issues”. What happened with me was (1) the new Virus Scan no longer removes advertising cookies (2) it no longer shows “critical files” at the beginning of the scan. I don’t think these are problems; I think McAfee is repackaging its products. If anyone knows, I would appreciate a comment.

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