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RE: Request for help with FrontPage!

From: Eileen Bonfiglio <PinesNet@putergirl.com>
Date: Sat, 22 Jan 2000 00:51:13 -0500
To: <webmaster@dors.sailorsite.net>, "Web Accessibility Initiative" <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>, "KristineBradow" <kbradow@ece.eng.wayne.edu>, "\"Charles (Chuck) Oppermann\"" <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Cc: "ChrisWilson" <cwilso@MICROSOFT.com>, "EileenBonfiglio" <pinesnet@putergirl.com>, <megazone@megazone.org>, "JamieFox" <jfox@fenix2.dol-esa.gov>
Good to hear from you as always Bruce!  Best regards to everyone making real
strides in this effort!

But of course, it would be foolish not to explore FrontPage 2000, or any
other application interface that has the potential to make our authoring
life easier, sadly, FrontPage 2000 is not there yet.  Microsoft is in very
good company however, Adobe cannot even meet the mark for clean code.
FrontPage 2000 metas are still self serving, with little opportunity for the
novice user to edit.  Font and paragraph tags are still everywhere in this
version as in all the others, and still useless.  You are correct Bruce - no
doctype options other than hand coded.  Perhaps it is time to look to other
resources for this...Microsoft can't be the best at everything, they make
the worlds best mice - let's be happy with that.

I did come across a dynamic application called DrumBeat by Elemental
Software (now part of the Macromedia family) that handled CSS & absolute
positioning in grand style! <applause> The code produced with this
application is very clean, not perfect, but cleaner than any of the others.
The application has some advanced programming options that you may or may
not be interested in using and may not suitable for the novice, but
certainly, the HTML portion is quite viable and worth the time to look!  As
Macromedia takes this plunge into WYSIWYG HTML/code generator software
excitement is generated amoung us who program in FLASH - perhaps one day
FLASH will be accessible as well - I can dream....  If you have the time,
take a look at DrumBeat, would love to see what others think of the
functionality and code produced.

Best Regards,
Eileen Bonfiglio

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Bruce Bailey [mailto:bbailey@clark.net]
> Sent: Friday, January 21, 2000 9:02 AM
> To: Web Accessibility Initiative; KristineBradow; "Charles (Chuck)
> Oppermann"
> Cc: ChrisWilson; EileenBonfiglio; megazone@megazone.org; JamieFox
> Subject: Request for help with FrontPage!
> Dear Group,
> I need help again.  (Another non-theoretical problem this time.)  I am
> hoping you can bail me out as you have so often before.  Charles Munat is
> quite correct that I use this list as an extension of my brain.
> Sometimes I
> embarrass myself, but mostly it has be very rewarding.  When I posted my
> question about the apparent correlation between validity and
> accessibility I
> had only some half-formed ideas about what the implications might be.
> Charles has done a great deal to move that discussion forward.  I hope the
> dialogue continues.  In the meantime, I am now dealing with harsh cold
> reality that might benefit from the intertwining of validity and
> accessibility.  This is all happening much quicker than I had expected.
> Short of hand-coding each page after the fact, has anyone had success
> getting Microsoft FrontPage to produce pages that are accessible and/or
> valid?  What are the techniques / strategies / configurations required?
> Is FrontPage 2000 any better (with regards to stands compliance) than the
> previous versions?  The product literature at URL:
> http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/2000/chklist.htm#html
> mentions "HTML Source Preservation" as a new feature (that FP 97
> and 98 did
> not have).  I would guess that this is implemented by proprietary code
> escaped by comments.  Such a strategy, of course, would not work
> for getting
> the requisite DOCTYPE statement at the beginning of the file!  I could not
> find any reference to "validation" or "accessibility" on the FrontPage
> pages.  I am hoping (probably irrationally) that I just missed
> them.  I have
> taken a superficial look at some of the sites linked to from Microsoft's
> "FrontPage Gallery", but found no examples that were EITHER accessible OR
> valid.  I will continue to explore FP2K, but as time is of the
> essence, I am
> asking for your help now.  If any the Microsoft people here could get send
> me the FP2K trial (beta?) ASAP I would be most appreciative!  (Snail mail
> address is below.)
> More details follow, feel free to stop reading, but if you are going to
> respond to the list, please constrain yourself to answering the
> questions I
> ask -- no matter how strongly you feel that I am raising the wrong issues!
> Anyone responding to this should probably take the time (I did) to review
> the archived threads:
> "Microsoft FrontPage"
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/1998AprJun/0218.html
> "Can WYSIWYG editors produce clean code"
> http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-ig/1998AprJun/0159.html
> so that we don't rehash material that has already been
> extensively covered.
> This is CC'd to folks who were fighting with FP (almost) a year ago.  I am
> hoping they have had some successes since, but I would also be
> interested in
> hearing from you if you gave up with FrontPage in frustration!
> Background:
> I am saddened to say that web authoring responsibilities are being taken
> from me and given to a secretary.  There are some very good reasons for
> this, and the idea has been in the works for a while, so I am not actually
> fighting the change.  I had hope that my successor would be more skilled,
> but in lieu of that, I expect to have fair opportunity to get her set up.
> She has little interest and motivation in doing the work, so her personal
> commitment to accessibility and validity is quite minimal.  Fortunately, I
> work with an agency that, if nothing else, gives frequent lip service to
> accessibility, even if that message does not always work its way into the
> trenches.  I am sorry to have to admit that if the "worker bees" don't buy
> into a policy, that policy is rarely implemented because frequently
> enforcement is lax by middle and upper management.  Adding to
> this situation
> is the fact that, as with many bureaucracies, decisions are often made at
> the top (probably for some good reasons) which have fairly
> disastrous short
> and long term consequences.  One of those decisions is that our parent
> agency -- and therefore us too -- is standardizing on Microsoft brand
> products...
> In the meantime, this might buy me year (and maybe by then Microsoft will
> fix their product) -- but it might get me no time at all, I am advocating
> strongly that we settle for Allaire ColdFushion.  I picked
> ColdFushion only
> because of the good press it has gotten on this list.  I will
> only have one
> shot at non-Microsoft product, so I am aiming high.  I want something that
> can handle tasks from start to finish and is scaleable, hence my
> preference
> for ColdFushion -- which can do not only the WYSIWYG editing, but also the
> actual serving of dynamic pages should our needs grow to that point.  This
> is why I recommended ColdFushion over HoT MetaL Pro or Dream Weaver, which
> have also been positively reviewed here.  If I have made a terrible choice
> here, please let me know ASAP.  Odds are, I can pull a switcharoo on my
> "pointed haired boss" since basically anything-but-FrontPage
> sounds the same
> to him.  That is, if I am allowed to buy anything but FrontPage.  My
> practical WYSIWYG experience is limited to Netscape Composer and
> Adobe Page
> Mill.  I found both to be okay (their broken code is not too hard to fix)
> for initial layout (and spell checking), but do most of my work with text
> editors.  I have given some time to earlier versions of FrontPage and have
> used the HTML export features of Word and WordPerfect.  All of those
> experiences were exercises in frustration.
> I have little illusion that eventually my agency will be using FrontPage.
> The argument that it produces invalid and inaccessible code will
> only get me
> so far.  I really don't mind acquiescing to the powers in Redmond.  I am a
> realist and, as State Employee, have an extremely high tolerance for
> frustration.  My subtle campaign to turn us into a Linux shop have gone
> nowhere at all, but I didn't really expect it to.  Given all
> this, my strong
> preference would be to fix, counteract, and/or work-around the
> problems with
> FrontPage.  I could settle for accessibility if I can't get validity, but
> given the more fluid nature of the former, and unambiguous yes/no state of
> the latter -- and taking into account who will be doing the
> actual work -- I
> *REALLY* want valid HTML 4.  I can put adequate time into setup and
> configuration, some time into training (not enough though, for example, to
> teach HTML), but almost no time into follow-up, monitoring, and policing.
> Yes, it is a far from ideal situation.  I will do what I can to change it.
> For now, these are the circumstances.  If it helps, consider this an essay
> question, and work within the parameters of the exercise.  It usually does
> not help one's grade to respond, "This question is wrong.  What you should
> be asking is..."  Please answer to my plea for help in the context I have
> asked for it.
> Granted, I am trying to solve the wrong problem.  The long term objective
> SHOULD be to make people care and to educate them about the issues.
> Learning HTML ain't that hard.  Hand-fixing code is not
> unreasonable.  Blah,
> blah, blah.  None of that helps me.  Please write me off the list if you
> feel obliged to comment on these tangential meta-problems.
> Given the situation as I describe, can anyone provide advise on how to
> configure and setup a FrontPage workstation so that it facilitates the
> creation and publication (posting) of accessible and valid HTML
> documents by
> non-technical personnel?  One thing I do plan to do is to set up template
> documents that include "referrer" links to the W3C Validator.
> That strategy
> is, of course, worse than useless if Front Page is not able to create
> documents that validate.  One of my proposed sample documents is at URL:
> http://www.dors.state.md.us/template.html
> I will also endeavor to disable the program propensity (if it has it) to
> generate "default" ALT tag content.  What else can I do?
> Thank you all for your time.
> Sincerely,
> Bruce Bailey
> Webmaster for the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)
> Division of
> Rehabilitation Services (DORS)
> Maryland Rehabilitation Center
> 2301 Argonne Drive
> Baltimore, MD  21218-1696
> 410/554-9211
> http://www.dors.state.md.us/
Received on Saturday, 22 January 2000 00:45:20 UTC

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