Vermeer Technologies Gives Birth To FrontPage
The growth of the Internet and especially the World Wide Web has spawned the hottest new industry: Web browsers and servers. This market includes a family of software giants like Oracle, Quarterdeck, Novell and Microsoft, as well as a host of small start-ups trying to catch some of the action and money. Vermeer Technologies adds its own baby to the Web family tree with FrontPage, a client/server Web authoring tool that's a collection of three components (FrontPage Editor, Personal Web Server and FrontPage Server Extensions) designed to make your network one big, happy family.
Until about a year ago, most Web page authors needed an intimate knowledge of special HTML codes to create pages. HTML editors were born, which eliminated some of this complexity, but still didn't model the simple document creation standard of modern-day word processors; many of the HTML editors still required some detailed knowledge of HTML. But Vermeer's FrontPage Editor is an excellent WYSIWYG HTML editor with a built-in to-do list that keeps track of necessary changes to your Web pages. The only thing lacking is support for tables, which is planned for the next version, according to Vermeer. Of all the HTML editors I've used in Windows, FrontPage Editor is the easiest. It let me create good-looking documents easily and fast. The to-do list was endlessly helpful.
WebBot (or "bot" for short) is one of the more useful features and will appeal to novice Web authors. Its dynamic object or code is exec uted when saved to the Web page or when that page is accessed. It lets you create your own Common Gateway Interface (CGI) with ease. For example, the search-bot lets you examine a Web page or all linked Web pages you want to examine for a particular text, eliminating the need to write your own CGI script.
To assist the Web author in designing attractive, functional Web pages, FrontPage Editor has a number of supplied templates and a wizard that prompts the user for information and creates the initial page. I used the templates to make several pages and they provided a good, initial structure. Another component of the client software is the FrontPage Explorer, an application that gives you a graphical representation of your Web.
All in the Family I installed FrontPage on a Windows95 workstation and it automatically uploaded the 32-bit Personal Web Server. (FrontPage also supports Windows NT and Windows 3.x). The Web servers are based on the public domain NCSA httpd 1.3 code distributed by the NCSA. While my Personal Web Server was not as feature-rich as some other Web servers, it ran fine and provided a good place to start.
You'll have tremendous power over your Web page with FrontPage Server Extensions, which let the client FrontPage Editor edit and update a Web page over an IP network or the Internet. I thought the most exciting aspect was collaborative editing, which is possible within the same document so you don't need to FTP the HTML document to the server. With FrontPage and the Server Extensions, a Web server's page can be updated in real time over the Internet, allowing for faster and easier content deployment. The server extensions also provide security for each Web on the server. Vermeer Personal Web server is currently the only NT httpd server supported by the Server Extensions. On the Unix side, there's support for the Apache, CERN and NCSA servers. Vermeer is currently working on extensions for other Web servers.
Jay Milne can be reached on the Internet at firstname.lastname@example.org om.
November 1, 1995