Still have not found anything that makes design as easy, and visual, like netobjects fusion.
And then came the day in high school when the computer club advisor told us about Netscape supporting frames. Frames were _so_ exciting.
I've wanted to move my blog content off Medium, but then no one would ever see it.
I judged people - IIS was terrible and you were better off with Apache, mod_perl and CGI.pm. I still can't believe how far ahead of its time CPAN was!
Myspace then Facebook (plus forums) obviated the need to build your own site to express yourself online, and disdain for "poorly designed" sites, i.e. general snobbishness, I think discouraged people from messing around. I love that old web! You can still do something similar on Google Sites or similar, but of course it's more constrained.
Not just the ugly webpages, those were the ubiquitous style at the time. No, FrontPage pioneered deep ugliness, because like all Microsoft products of the 90s it regarded interoperability as a threat. It produces ugly HTML that works best in IE, and it has an optional upload mechanism that requires IIS on the server side.
Just like nowadays with chrome!
- AirBnb: "We'd always recommend that you use Google Chrome to browse the site: we've optimised things for this browser. Thanks."
- Seamless: "Safari is not a good browser to use with our website. Google Chrome work better with our website or you can download the app."
- DirecTV Now
- IDAT solutions (some random thing I found while searching)
- Countfire (ditto)
Groupon said something similar as well but walked it back. Whatsapp's web app didn't support Firefox initially but does now.
Could browse through Web Compat as well, though I'm not sure if this site is more about sites that should work in FF but don't, or Firefox bugs.
But as of now, Chrome is and has for a long time been the only browser to support:
CSS Paint API:
That's been in Chrome for, like, less than a year - hardly a "long time". And the implementation leaked history spectacularly . Rushing features out the door isn't necessarily something to be proud of.
 https://www.spinda.net/papers/smith-2018-revisited.pdf (see section 3.1)
Now if someone would tell web developers that if you want to write desktop/mobile apps, you need to learn native frameworks.....
What are newer FrontPage alternatives?
The Internet and the web have changed drastically since the days when FrontPage was a very common website editor. Almost every modern website editor these days will require you to have some basic understanding of the concepts of HTML, and CSS coding, instead of the drag and drop design that FrontPage used.
I recently found this thing called 'pinegrove editor' (I think that's' what it's called. looks the closest to something like it and modern.
maybe blue griffon.
Sadly drop and drop widgets with wordpress themes is probably the most widely used that is similar.
Folks who made web sites in those days and paid $20/month to host them provided a pretty compelling library of content compared to today's pay-per-click 'blogosphere'.
I liked the "put up or shut up" pay-to-host model, driven by your beliefs, not your readers.
And despite the pretty garish things that happened in that web design era that FrontPage memorialized (rollover buttons!), kudos to Vermeer for democratizing web site creation.
*: Well, sort of.. there are bits scattered everywhere, I had to dig into email archives to find some specifications.
Those Cobalt RaQ and Qube boxes came with that support baked in, which was a nice feature until Cobalt died and we had to replicate the functionality on straight Linux boxes.
It wasn't hard, it's just that a little part of me died in side every time I had to do it.
I remember I'd use "View Source" and look for Frontpage tags as a cue for whether a site's designers deserved a good mocking
Rather than look at the actual design?
So much time spent, as a small kid, looking for a free webhost that supported FrontPage extensions...
The reasons IE won over Netscape are many, but bundling with dominant OS and embracing/extending standards such that sites only worked in IE was a big part of it. Heck, there was a whole antitrust case about just that.
No Netscape would officially cost you US$49 until 1998.
@dang can you edit/delete the parent comment? No need to spread lies here!
Small, random event that end up having a big effect on my life. My hobbies, what&where I chose to study, the friends I got there etc. I can trace back to this.
I'll admit, being born in 87, most of the site was simply copied from other websites about the game, and translated to Danish. So it was a decent exercise - particularly for someone dyslexic as me - to both built a website and translate from English to Danish.
If only I knew where that website ended up...
Check the generator tag on the frameset page http://www.roswithavanderzander.de/index_EN.htm
Also, it has frames, which I honestly miss even though I am glad we have moved past them.
It was complete with all the expected features of the time, including an autoplaying MIDI Pokémon background music, Comic Sans everywhere and 3D rotating text gifs made with Xara X3D. Oh and moving text in the status bar.
I'm not sorry at all though.
I was like, 7, so my math skills didn’t really allow me to understand the scope of the number of pages that would be required.
But god damn if I didn’t have a blast trying.
I mean: yes, technology was limited. I get that you couldn't have free range with things like typography and that CSS wasn't a thing yet. But for the love of god: a textured red background that made the already shittily rendered text even harder to read?! What were we thinking?
It's honestly always been bad ... before the web you'd dial into terminal based systems (BBS) and be assaulted with a perverse amount of ANSI escape codes and 8-bit extended ASCII flying around the screen and blinking at you (interfaces like this: https://s0.mundogamers.com/uploaded/bbsmenu.jpg). In between the two eras even IRC and UseNet got full of crufty ASCII art followed by leet-speak spelled weirdly cased words...it was illegible, unappealing and awful.
Having the maturity to know when to stop and having the control to know what not to do have always been talents far more rare than we'd prefer.
And, if you want to see a live version of a sweet looking BBS, check out this one in your telnet app:
Form over function. Fun, original formatting was more important than coveying information well.
Keep in mind that displays sucked. Unless you had a Trinitron or similar quality display, you probably had a crappy 14" 4:3 screen with awful dot pitch, wildly inconsistent colors, part of the screen noticably fuzzier than the rest, and you likely could only have 256 colors (and your browser might not even select them optimally). You'd select a different window and the VGA palette would reset, making the now-background window look like a Pollock painting.
There was too much awful going on for people to care. Besides, the vast majority of pages were simple black text and blue links on a white background. As long as you didn't use the blink tag, nobody got upset.
You have to remember how primitive web technologies were in those days. CSS was released in December 1996 but didn't get good, consistent browser implementations until the early 2000s. Besides CSS your layout and styling options were frames, tables, <font> tags (and don't forget you can only use the pre-installed fonts on the user's system), or just bypassing HTML altogether by designing your page in Photoshop and exporting it as an imagemap (better hope all your users have 56k or ISDN or have lots of patience). Oh yeah, and don't forget to test your site at 640x480 with 256 colors.
Don't forget: you couldn't (or shouldn't) bring your own 256 color palette, because the actual palette would be a compromise between all the applications open - so you were forced/encouraged to use the "Web palette", which contained a fixed set of 216 colors.
It's not that web designers were bad back them, it's that a lot of this stuff was not made by designers at all, and apparently lots of people have a really bad sense of design.
I don't mean that in an elitist way. I think it's great that back then my aunt or nephew could set up a website, however horrible the design was. I'm just saying there's a reason why designers get paid to design. It's not an innate ability, and people are much worse at it than those who are into design are inclined to think.
'Decent' design is kind of a default for many other things, mostly because we often defer to 'designers' when it comes to things like furniture, clothing, etc. But make a visit to your local print shop and look at the self-made wedding invites and the like to see how bad things can be. Or consider the many self-made powerpoint presentations! It'll make your eyes burn.
> Your developers were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should
As a frontend developer I'm part of it, but at least I don't encourage it or defend it :-/
Nobody was thinking this was 'web design'. You're looking at a consumer product and a specific 'novelty' theme in it. Just like nobody thought Comet Cursor was UI design.
Actually, when computers started to be used for these things, a lot of traditional media went nuts and threw out their design principles in order to take advantage of new technology.
Remind me when I get home from work tonight, and I can upload some scans of what happened to Marvel Comics letters pages, trade dress, house ads, credits/title pages, and even in some cases dialogue lettering, when they switched over to digital typesetting and color separations in late 1994/early 1995. Splashes of color and awful CGI artwork everywhere. In 1997, they switched to a retro-looking style that pulled back on most of the excesses... but it was still really gaudy compared to early 1994, and it wasn't until the 21st century that they remembered there are principles to good design.
Edit: Actually, I can show you what happened to the trade dresses now, since cover scans are widely available. Images are grabbed from https://www.mycomicshop.com
The cover of Uncanny X-Men #315, released in June 1994 (comics are dated two months in advance). Fairly tasteful trade dress. https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/639727.jpg
The cover of Uncanny X-Men #322, released in May 1995. Look at that CGI X! (Edit: And the teaser lettering looks like WordArt!) But they're not done experimenting yet. It gets worse. https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/861739.jpg
The cover of Uncanny X-Men #332, released March 1996. This is peak mid-90s gaudy. https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/865533.jpg
And if you're wondering what other comics, that didn't have a recognizable symbol made out of simple shapes, used... well, let's have a look at Incredible Hulk #442, released April 1996. Yep, it's a CGI atom. https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/865365.jpg
Or Amazing Spider-Man #411, released March 1996. Three dimensional Spider-Man mask! https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/882953.jpg
(and if you think these are bad, you should see the interiors)
But things got better, right? Well, here's Uncanny X-Men #346, released June 1997, the first month of Marvel's retro look. It's like they wanted to return to the mid-1994 look but didn't quite remember how anymore. https://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/844811.jpg
Just look at this page, updated LAST YEAR: http://www.telecommanderhosting.com/ec/framed_Microsoft_OS.h...
Look at the waving Win 95 logo!
Not to mention the "office clipart guy" in the homepage...
I am just suprised that the obligatory "under construction" gif is missing!
That rarely happened on old pages
I did something in Frontpage and then checked the code it generated to see how to do it with the tags.I still remember the Dreamweaver vs Frontpage vs Notepad arguments.
I'm getting old.
For those who laugh: we didn't have any proper html dev dokus at that point. search engine still sucked. we learned html by copy&pasting&deleting&iterrating.
To me, it seems that web design is a visual thing. And if so, then a WYSIWYG editor is the appropriate thing to use. I'm suspicious that some people here don't think visually, and don't see the value in thinking visually.
I don't know what people mean when they say "bad markup". I imagine it might include things like positioning elements using absolute coordinates. But I'm sure this is solvable by previewing the webpage on different resolutions, browsers and device types.
By given set of HTML and CSS produce bitmap on screen. That's perfectly determined task (modulo browser differences).
WYSIWYG editor does the opposite task:
With the given bitmap on screen produce set of valid HTML and CSS declarations.
The last task is undetermined mathematically speaking - with modern HTML and especially CSS there are too many ways of get the same rendering using completely different CSS tricks - absolute positioning, floats, display:grid and flexbox etc. etc.
Then using tables for layouts was better. Cutting graphics for rounded corners worked. The web purists kept posting how bad it was, web visitors never cared.
Once monitors were less standardized (more than just 800 px wide and 1024) - and mobile became a thing- the web purists really pushed to do layout with css only - and they spend years posting about hacks and recreating.. table layout called something else.
Either way lots of extra code that is certainly not needed if using the modern grid css tagging...
It was a pretty clever system, too. It built layouts automatically using complex tables, split out text where it could, used image maps where it had to, etc. It wasn't something you'd be proud of using but it was the fastest tool for non-technical users at the time and would probably even hold up pretty well now(!)
It looks like this used to be the precursor of RSS. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Definition_Format
Is Bootstrap is the new Frontpage?
It truly has gone downhill since then.
From the article:
> I also like the load time estimation found in the bottom right corner -- that's a constant reminder how long it will take the page you're working on to load for your visitors. My resume page is pretty good on wait time -- 14 seconds and that includes a graphic in addition to a massive HTML file!
His "unimaginably fast" website took 14 seconds to load. Compare that to today's "bloated" sites like CNN's home page. Loads in 4.3 seconds, and finishes asynchronously loading all the bloat in 7.8 seconds.
Yes, technology at the time did limit the kind of bloat that would be tolerated. Is that an excuse to go all in now just because we can?
Really bad on my mobile (equally bad as a number of mobile web sites today, only different).
Web site I dealt with earlier today: lose state when I go back.
This page: unreadable small fonts (and it takes months between every time I complain about that). And when I zoom it doesn't reflow the text so I have to scroll back and forth to read it.
Wow. I worked at Netscape summer of 1997, a team that helped content providers get their web sites ready to showcase the Dynamic HTML and Channel features in Netscape 4.0.
The book by the founder, "High Stakes, No Prisoners" should be required reading for anyone interested in doing an internet startup IMHO.
At the time Macromedia was making terrific advances in this space. Ca. 1999-2000 I moved to Dreamweaver, Ultradev, Flash and Paint Shop Pro(liked it better than Fireworks; story for another day).
you were supposed to graduate from WYSIWYG tools like FrontPage, which generated utterly awful markup, to writing proper HTML yourself in a text editor
What does it really mean? The term.
There are still quite a lot of them about in smaller companies - they keep Wordpress patched, post news stories, update pages etc.
I think web developer or software engineer is too much, and web editor is too little
I knew lots and lots of people that did.
Link to the pages you find interesting. Forget SEO. Find more pages by following recommendations. Allow ourselves to create "ugly" pages.
I was told by a number of “experts” at the time that I was silly and WYSIWYGs were the way forward. It’s some 20 years later and thus far they’ve still never really worked very well. Also, man that makes me feel old.
Fortunately I usually didn't have to use front page to do it and could hand edit the HTML, if it blew up when they tried to edit it in front page again we could blame that on MS, which was believable with their software quality at the time.
My PC had a faulty RAM which would get hit somewhere in the middle of installation and trigger the blue screen of death. I tried that install program a hundred times. Tried different distributions, tried changing the OS (98 to ME and back). Nothing worked.
And we couldn't afford getting me a new RAM. Mom and Dad were still repaying the loan that they took three years ago to buy me that broken computer. No way they could add a brand new RAM to their expenses.
But I really wanted to build my own website. I would watch video tutorials of FrontPage (on pirated CDs), and I'd imagine using all the techniques from the videos to design my own website. You could make links (for some reason, links seemed cool), and dynamic links that didn't reload the page (which meant iframes everywhere). You could add clip arts (those tacky office cliparts), and buttons that react to the mouse (I could imagine building whole games out of those).
The possibilities would be endless... if only I could get the money to buy that new RAM.
After attempting and failing a few ideas to raise the money, I decided that the only way I could get that kind of money would be to... write a book!
The book would be a guide to a software called "Multimedia Builder." MMB was a tool to make Autorun programs. You could make a window with buttons, videos, music, interactivity. It even had a scripting language. It was very popular at the time and my classmates were asking me to show them how to use it. I decided I'd write a book about it (there were none on the market), sell the book to a publisher, and use the money to buy not just a new RAM, but a whole new computer!
I drafted the layout (somehow layout was more important than content for me). Outlined the chapters. Built folders of step-by-step screenshots...
... until Mom surprised me with $36 that she had gotten as extra salary! One of the best days of my life! Off I ran to the computer market. Bought a brand new SDR Ram, put it on my underpowered PC400 motherboard, started the computer, put the FrontPage CD in, and fired up install. I remember watching the install progress bar slowly fill. It was always near the halfway mark that the blue screen would appear. I remember the angst I felt as the progress bar approached the halfway mark, passed it, and the screen remained very not blue!
I outgrew FrontPage in two weeks. Turns out, FrontPage can't really do much :)
What I should have learned was actually HTML, CSS, and PHP. Which I did, right after. Funny things is though, they would've all ran fine on my faulty RAM! I could've started my web dev adventure a whole year earlier! Good times.
Do you think they're making fun of something?
Ah, those were the times...
For programming, I used Visual Interdev which resembled Microsoft Visual Code more than Frontpage. Visual Interdev was part of the Visual Studio package.
Haven't come across that word for over ~15 years =)
Wow, I wish I could get back those hours drawing complex tables and placing 1x1 pixel images in strategic places.
Also, the marquee tag is mission critical.
It had nowhere near the feature set of full-blown FrontPage, of course.
Given the tangle of unreadable, unmaintainable IE-specific garbage that FrontPage produced, I'd say I came out on top overall.
My mind was blown when I realized I could have different colors on my syntax and people actually indented things.
There was a lot of activity in the late ‘90s around what “authentic to the medium” web design could look like, but I don’t remember people being very interested in emulating traditional print design — which itself was in turmoil thanks to digital publishing systems. Open a 1996 issue of Wired and you’ll probably think the designers were on crack: purple text on garish background images, cut-up barely readable fonts, that kind of thing.
Some other smaller things also contributed but I don't think they were such big deals:
- Lack of good compression on both transfer of data and file formats, necessitating simpler designs and palette-based image formats.
- Graphics acceleration was generally slow so smooth animations were out.
- Image creation/editing tools were practically non-existent and digital cameras were rare so it makes sense that the resulting pages that have had designed assets were scary-looking.
The color palette was limited. 216 web-safe colors, 256 if you didn't mind the user's open programs changing how it looked.
Colors displayed differently on different monitors, and 'dead' areas of the screen, where colors would be less vibrant, were common.
And finally... The web was different, so we tossed all the rules. If you liked it, that's good enough! Why pander to anybody else? This was your own thing.