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Rob Mauceri's FrontPage Blog

Learn about what's coming in Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and Expression Web Designer



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FP History

Every once in a while I forget how many happy people are out there using FrontPage and are passionate about it. Edward Lewis from SEO Consultants, pointed me to a fun history of FrontPage that his company put together.

Oh, and Happy Saint Patricks day...

Posted Friday, March 17, 2006 9:45 AM by rmauceri | 0 Comments

A New Era

As a first matter of business, I’ll make a quick apology for my absence from this blog. What can I say? Bad blogger. Bad blogger. I promise to do better going forward.

Next – lots of exciting news today about the Office 2007 line-up, not the least of which is the announcement about Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 and Microsoft Expression Web Designer.  Be sure to read the official PressPass with John Richards if you have not. Obviously this is big news and I'm excited about this announcement (and have been dying to blog about it since October).

If you read between the lines in my earlier posts about a higher bar and the SharePoint wave, you might have guessed this was coming. We're taking web design to a new level and we're creating two new products based on FrontPage technologies to address the needs of specific customers and markets.

  • Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007 which will focus on building applications and automating business processes on top of the SharePoint platform, and customizing SharePoint sites (for both Windows SharePoint Server and Office SharePoint Server).
  • Microsoft Expression Web Designer which will focus on building standards-based Web sites and providing the best tools for professional web designers building dynamic sites with ASP.NET.

These are both amazing products which share technologies such as a wholly revamped design surface which is optimized for rendering CSS and XHTML, and generating super clean standards-based code. The design surface has exceptional support for ASP.NET 2.0, for control rendering, control designer hosting, and property editing. It makes taking advantage of ASP.NET no-code data binding (for example) a snap.  We showed some of these capabilities at the PDC in September when Expression Web Designer was first announced, and you can preview video feature walk-throughs on the Expression web site.  There is a lot more to say about each of these products and now that they are both pubicly disclosed, I can attack that in future postings.

Of course, this leaves the obvious question - what's happening to FrontPage? (and what to call this blog?) The short answer is that once we ship SharePoint Designer and Expression Web Designer, we will eventually discontinue FrontPage. On the one hand this is sad to me; I've spent the last 11 (eleven!) years working on FrontPage and that mission is coming to an end. On the other hand, we're building two fantastic products which will meet the needs of customers better than we ever have. With SharePoint Designer and Expression Web Designer, a new era begins.

Posted Thursday, February 16, 2006 10:00 PM by rmauceri | 3 Comments

The SharePoint wave

In my second post I talked about trends in web site authoring and left off with one more trend - the growing popularity of SharePoint. Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) is a layer over ASP.net and IIS for collaborative web sites and it ships as part of Windows Server 2003. WSS includes some site templates and the most popular one is the "Team site" which makes it easy for a team to have a site for sharing documents, tasks, calendars, and lists of stuff.  Most users identify SharePoint with the Team site experience.

Team sites are an important but small part of what is interesting about WSS. If you look at WSS (and here I'm talking about the currently shipping WSS version 2) with a application builder's eye, you see the ingredients for creating web apps; built-in support for lists and document libraries with user defined schemas for storage, forms and views for entering and presenting data, a server-side event model for hooking up business logic. The SharePoint Portal Server is an example of a large collaborative web application that is built on top of WSS, and we recently shipped a set of 30 simple application templates for collaborating on WSS for things like project tracking, equipment and room reservations, or managing marketing campaigns.

The plans for WSS as a platform is evolving even further in the next release.  WSS v3 is built on ASP.net 2.0 and takes advantage of new capabilities such as ASP.net master pages, web parts, and data source controls. This makes building on and extending SharePoint much easier than v2. In addition WSS has integrated the Windows Workflow Framework which is an engine for running workflow processes driven around lists and documents. These are big advancements in terms of building applications on top of SharePoint. You can read more about WSS v3 on PJ's SharePoint blog.

FrontPage has supported customizing and building on SharePoint for several releases and adds much more support in FrontPage 12. I'll talk about details of these features in future postings. You can also read about using FrontPage and SharePoint together on the FrontPoint blog.

Finally, a couple managment notes: I am blocking display of anonymous comments for the moment until I get the feel for whether enabling them is worthwhile. I'll say thanks for the few encouraging comments I have received and for the questions you sent. I'll start responding to them in subsequent postings. 

Posted Friday, October 07, 2005 12:24 PM by rmauceri | 1 Comments

Fun with MVPs
We had a great time visiting with the FrontPage MVPs last week and I want to thank them for taking a few days out of their schedules to come to Redmond. I'm always impressed with the passion and excitement our MVPs bring to the summit and last week was no exception. We spent half the day on Friday showing off FrontPage 12 and covered most of the product including the great support for creating standards-based sites with CSS formatting and layout, HTML/XHTML and CSS schema support in the design and code view, as well as the support for designing SharePoint sites, integrating data into SharePoint and building workflows for the Workflow Framework included in the next version of SharePoint. 

Posted Wednesday, October 05, 2005 2:08 PM by rmauceri | 1 Comments

MVP summit

The MVP summit starts up today - welcome FP MVPs! I'm looking forward to meeting up with you all so we can show what we have coming in FrontPage 12. I'll be looking to meet SharePoint MVPs too.

Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 10:12 PM by rmauceri | 0 Comments

A higher bar

Before diving into feature talk, I think it is worth spending a little time talking about trends we've seen in Web site authoring, the direction we've seen customers going over the last few years, and the impact of these on what we've built in FrontPage 12.

One significant trend we've seen is the "professionalization" of the web designer market. The bar for user experience on the Web has become very high. Even the smallest business wants a great looking, professional quality presence on the Web. While this certainly means visually compelling pages (nice colors, layout, beautiful graphics), it also means dynamic sites which interact and respond to customers, and change with the needs or environment of the business, community, or person who owns the site. More and more the user experience on the Web defines the interaction, relationship, and emotional connection that your customers have with your products, services, and business or organization. It is difficult for non-professional designers to create the quality of experience that people expect to see on the Web. This isn't 1999 any more.  The designers building today's web sites have deeper skills (visual and interactive design, CSS, HTML/XHTML, client scripting) and require tools, with a different balance of power and flexibility vs ease of use and learning than before.

Another trend we've seen is that the desire to build web sites around web standards, specifically the use of XHTML and CSS has increased dramatically in the last few years (refer to the IE team's blog for discussion about IE's improving support for standards). There are several reasons driving this, but certainly the desire to support a range of browsers and platforms, a variety of devices, and accessibility requirements (section 508 and WCAG) are all contributing. There is also a certain of amount of this change due to maturity in the technology (browsers and standards) and design practices used by web professionals - the XHTML/CSS approach is just a better way to build sites compared to HTML/tables/spacer gif layout - easier to maintain, better performing, more accessible.

Along with these 2 trends, we've also seen changes at the lower end of web site authoring, where customization and control is less important than ease of use and learning, and quick deployment and update. Specifically more and more of the needs of low end sites are met with (often free) hosted services. This is true of personal web sites which have rapidly been replaced by blogs on hosted systems like MSN Spaces or Blogger. It is true for many types of family, group, or community sites which instead of being individually designed are hosted on systems like MSN Communities or Yahoo Groups. Note that all of these services are free/advertising subsidized. Photo sharing is another great example. 5 years ago it was much harder and required specialized tools and a web hosting company to share your pictures on the web; today there are many free hosted services to do so.

So what is an easy to use and learn web authoring tool like FrontPage to do? These trends aren't new, and they influenced our direction beginning with FrontPage 2003. While we did consider moving the product to more of a hosted services approach, we chose instead to focus on moving the product up and helping designers grow skills and provide a product that would grow with them. Features like the split view and quick tag selector are examples of features aimed at web designers with deeper skills and understanding of web technologies, but also at the needs of customers wanting to develop new skills. Code intellisense, tag completion, and code snippets, were all included in FrontPage 2003 with the professionalization of the market in mind. And what you will see is that a large part of what FrontPage 12 is about is continuing this path and evolving to help FrontPage users meet the higher bar for building a web experience.

Next time I post, I'll talk about one more trend having a big impact on FrontPage 12, and that is the growing popularity of the Windows SharePoint Services and ASP.net server platforms.

Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 2:10 PM by rmauceri | 1 Comments

About this blog

Welcome! Let me introduce myself, my name is Rob Mauceri and I’m the Group Program Manager for FrontPage. I’m going to use this blog to talk about what is coming in the next release of FrontPage – code named “FrontPage 12”. This version of FrontPage will ship sometime next year, on the same timeline as the rest of the Office family of products.

Just a couple notes about me. I’ve worked on FrontPage for a long time (over 10 years, yikes!) and I contributed to every release of FrontPage including Vermeer FrontPage 1.0. I worked as a software developer on FrontPage 1.0 through FrontPage 2002, and as a program manager on FrontPage 2003 and FrontPage 12. I’m passionate about personal publishing, web site design, building web applications, and SharePoint.

I’m looking forward to using this space as a place to discuss what is coming in FrontPage 12, as well as hear your thoughts on where we are going. Just to give you hint, we focused on two big areas for FrontPage 12 - making it easier to create high quality standards-based Web sites, and providing powerful tools for designing SharePoint sites and applications. These are two initiatives we began in FrontPage 2003, but FrontPage 12 will bring them to a whole new level. I hope you'll come back to hear more...

Posted Sunday, September 25, 2005 4:56 PM by rmauceri | 0 Comments