My first — and only — firsthand experience with web development (I should put “development” in scare quotes) was back in the mid-’90s. I used FrontPage to put together Steve’s Website of Decadence, a small site dedicated to the things I liked to do back then, which was mostly grill meat and drink stuff. It was hosted on AOL Hometown, for those of you old and nerdy enough to remember.
Although it’s been about 15 years, I distinctly remember running up against a problem with the navigation buttons. I wanted them to change dynamically according to where you were in my needlessly-complicated page hierarchy, but never could get that to happen. Maybe one of the reasons I fell in love with blogging is that it eliminated the need for any hierarchy at all.
But that was so long ago, FrontPage isn’t even a thing anymore. Although from what I remember, I doubt anyone misses it all that much. When VodkaPundit was brand-new and still hosted on BlogSpot, I tried using FrontPage as my HTML editor to add a couple bells and whistles — and it broke my permalinks by adding extraneous Microsoft-only code. There was a week there when nobody could link to my individual posts, which for a blogger is like going to Las Vegas and being told “Sorry, but we’re all out of booze and hookers.”
Then last week Troy Stephens sent me a working copy of TypeMetal from Coherence Labs, which bills itself as “semantic HTML editing. With style.” Well I have to tell you that HTML has changed a lot since FrontPage 98 was mucking up everybody’s code, and it’s all way over my head now. But I put TypeMetal through some paces this morning, and came away impressed. Clean interface, nothing got in my way, and I was able to figure out how to use code more complicated than a hyperlink or a blockquote.
And at $30, it costs way less in unadjusted dollars than FrontPage did 15 years ago.
That’s a win.
UPDATE: Almost forgot to mention my only complaint, that I couldn’t figure out how to get SpellCheck to work. Troy tells me it was left out to hit a shipping deadline, but will soon be included in a free update through the App Store.