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Microsoft adds 'sophisticated' XML capabilities to FrontPage 2003

Microsoft announced this week that it is adding significant XML functionality to its FrontPage end-user Web design tool to allow non-programmers to add dynamic data functionality to Web pages with simple drag-and-drop tools.

FrontPage 2003, part of the new Microsoft Office 2003 launch set for this summer, is a significant upgrade over previous versions, Erik Rucker, group program manager for FrontPage, told XML Report.

It will provide what FrontPage Product Manager Melisa Samuelson calls the "first commercially available, fully WYSIWYG Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformation [XSLT] editor" that allows users to create interactive Web applications.

"It pulls the live data into the WYSIWYG editor so you can actually work with the live data," she said. "With other products on the market, you actually just create the style sheet and you can't work with the live data -- you have to preview it to see what the live data will look like once it is formatted."

With the new FrontPage, a departmental end user could pull current sales figures into the WYSIWYG editor and format them, changing type sizes as well as adding graphics such as stars for sales that exceed the forecast, she said. The end user would also have a live view of what the page was going to look like when it goes up on the corporate intranet.

The new version of FrontPage is essentially designed for two levels of users. For the less-sophisticated user there are drag-and-drop capabilities with templates for creating data-driven Web pages, she said. But more sophisticated users can actually edit the XSLT code.

"You're not limited in how data-driven solutions are built," Samuelson said. "FrontPage actually generates the XSLT; it's industry standard code, it's not anything proprietary, so you have complete control of it. If you know XSLT, you can actually go in and edit the XSLT, so you can do your own fine-tuning."

Rucker and Samuelson said the new capabilities in FrontPage 2003 were the result of feedback from an increasingly sophisticated user base demanding tools for creating data-driven Web pages rather than static brochureware.

Currently in the final stages of beta, FrontPage 2003 is scheduled for release later this summer, Samuelson said.

About the Author

Rich Seeley is Web Editor for Campus Technology.

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