Product Reviews

Turbocharge Your FrontPage Web Pages

Don't want to fuss with Web page scripting? Use J-Bots instead.

If you’re like most people I know, you have, by now, had to try your hand at creating a Web site. It doesn’t seem to matter whether you’re a developer, systems administrator, trainer, or lion tamer: Sooner or later, you need to develop Web pages. For many of us, the tool of choice for designing pages is Microsoft FrontPage 2000—it’s simple and available.

Eventually though, you’ll “hit the wall” with FrontPage 2000 and want to do something that’s not built into the product. What then? For most of us, switching to another, more complex product isn’t an attractive option. That’s where Webs Unlimited’s J-Bots Plus 2000 comes in. The designers at Microsoft were smart enough to make FrontPage extensible, and the developers at Webs Unlimited have put together this package of 50 components you can use to make your FrontPage Web more useful and attractive.

The J-Bots components are grouped into four major categories:

General components include a variety of ways to organize menus and jumps, format dates and times, count down to a specific event, invoke search engines, and detect browser capabilities (among other things). The latter is especially useful if you’d like to use advanced techniques on your site, but want to redirect users with older browsers to an alternative page.

  • Cookie components let you save variables into cookies and read their values back later. It’s inexplicable to me that Microsoft didn’t put this into the core product, but J-Bots fills the gap perfectly.

  • Form components handle tasks, such as credit card and phone number validation, masked edits, and confirmation messages.

  • Image components can randomize images, produce image menus, change images on mouse-over, and create bar graphs.

When you insert a component, J-Bots prompts you with a simple dialog for any information it needs. It then writes a special FrontPage tag that is formatted at runtime. You can use the FrontPage preview pane to see the results even before you publish your Web. Another nice touch is that the help uses HTML Help, which means that it too can display examples of the final effect of the bots.

J-Bots Plus 2000 lets you skip the scripting by extending FrontPage’s capabilities.

All in all, J-Bots is a quick and easy way to juice up a FrontPage Web site without having to switch products or dig into the intricacies of scripting yourself.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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