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    I didn’t see this article touch on what really changed in the ecosystem. In the beginning, the expectation was that non technical users would write web pages, and that’s how to contribute to the Internet. What happened is non technical users end up with content management systems, including centrally managed systems, so the need for this class of product went away. There is something sad about that, just because running a real server can do so many more things - but non technical users weren’t going to be the ones to exploit those capabilities. It seems very unlikely to me that this class of product will make a comeback, and Frontpage isn’t the only product in this category that went into the sunset.

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      This is really interesting! I vaguely remember people telling me back then (I was a kid) that learning to code was useless since you could just make web pages in Frontpage (or Dreamweaver if you wanted to get fancy). Of course I didn’t have access to either. It’s hard to overstate how much things have changed!

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        Serif WebPlus is also in this category of “web publishing” shitware. It’s actually not that bad, but it treats webpages like PDF documents (probably owing to its sister product PagePlus), and so it becomes annoying to modify page sizes. Also master pages suck. Plus (hehe) there’s the vendor lock-in as stated in the article, as it produces absolutely garbage HTML like Muse.

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          Serif kinda reinvented themselves with Affinity though; otherwise I’d suspect they’re be yet another forgotten dumpy shareware studio.

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          This is a great article and really takes me back!

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            Great article. Oh, and you have to look at the, errm, front page of this website. It is definitely worth seeing and quite different from all the faceless front pages you normally see.

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              FrontPage was good fun. A bit later there was also iWeb. I don’t recall it being as powerful as FrontPage but it certainly filled that niche of WYSIWYG editing, complete with publishing to a web-accessible URL.

              Recently it feels like Microsoft and Apple focus on inward-focusing services. Despite various flirtations over the years, now they seem to be staying the heck away from anything that involves end user publishing or forms of social media. There’s no technical reason why they couldn’t - maybe they don’t want to deal with all the moderation aspects? It’s an unavoidable part of the easy web publishing story that FrontPage promised.

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                Microsoft as a “conglomerate” deals with end users on their Xbox platform. I honestly don’t know how active it is but you can publish screenshots etc from games and of course hosting games and dealing with the inevitable moderation headaches is a huge part of what Xbox Live provides.

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                  There’s multiple problems:

                  • For making it easier on people, they need an easy way to get webspace. Apple did provide that, Microsoft didn’t. I have to imagine that’s a burden because you have to have and enforce an AUP. Easier to wash your hands of it and make it someone else’s problem, even if it increases barrier to entry.
                  • Most people don’t actually have anything to say or publish, and if they do, they have little interest in maintaining their own space or CMS (WordPress, SSGs, HTML editors all have their tradeoffs) for it. Normal people actually prefer the social media model, brainwormed/abusive as it can be. The people who don’t tend to be nerds like us. (Maybe my reading is wrong and there are people who do want this, but I suspect they’re a niche.
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                    Most people don’t actually have anything to say or publish, and if they do, they have little interest in maintaining their own space or CMS (WordPress, SSGs, HTML editors all have their tradeoffs) for it. Normal people actually prefer the social media model, brainwormed/abusive as it can be.

                    Indeed, perhaps it was inevitable. I still wonder if things would look different today if tools like MS Office and iWork had worked to keep web publishing low friction. Maybe we’d have fewer facebook-only small businesses, and fewer community groups who rely on facebook groups to share rosters and other information. It’s hard to imagine it would be radically different though.

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                  My first HTML documents were authored with Microsoft Word. I liked using Dreamweaver and Frontpage too.

                  <font> elements, man, those were the days.

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                    The word for what you’re discussing: WCMS