Hi Karen (and friends),
To be honest, the minimum you need to create Web pages is a text
editor and a shareware graphics manipulation package, like
LViewPro. Now this means you will have to understand something
about HTML (HyperText Markup Language), which is really simple.
On the other hand, your time is probably better spent in the
studio than learning HTML.
All any other tool for Web authoring does is make it easier for
you by generating the HTML code based on what you've done on the
screen. Beyond that, there are just varying degrees of
functionality built in. BTW, my dad, who is a technical writer,
says "functionality" isn't a real word...
If you are concerned about finding a Web hosting service that
supports FrontPage Extensions, don't be. They are all over the
place, and geographic proximity to where you are is not
important. A cable modem is great, but any modem 33.6 or better
is just fine. Changing ISPs or hosting services should not be
For cheap and effective FrontPage hosting, I can recommend HiWay
). One of my clients is hosted there, and
it's very good for the price. I use a higher-end provider
(Mindspring), but may switch to HiWay for the savings.
Okay, now to get to your actual question.... :)
I have talked to a number of people who are quite happy using
Microsoft Publisher to generate Web pages. It's a lower-end
desktop publishing package than PageMaker... which is used by
real publishing pros. Evidently it is very effective for Web
pages, and other publishing needs, too. What it does *not* do
is help you manage your Web.
Let me elaborate: I'm sure you understand what a single Web
page is. A Web itself is made up of a number of pages,
hyperlinked together. Many typical applications (Word, Excel,
Publisher, etc.) have had features added so that they can
generate Web pages, but they don't know anything about the Web
itself. Only a product built as a Web authoring tool will
really give you the more advanced features and Web management
For example, spell checking a whole site, verifying hyperlinks,
etc. I can change a link in my Web, and FrontPage will offer to
change all the links to that page within the Web on all pages.
It also gives a graphic representation of your Web... you can
see every page that links into a given page.
A "real" Web authoring tool will also make advanced things like
hit counters, included pages, frames, forms, etc. easily
manageable. These things would probably be difficult/impossible
with conventional tools that just generate pages.
I guess it depends on your needs/what you want. If you just
want a simple Web site of a few pages, I imagine you could get
by with a conventional piece of software that does double duty.
If you're serious and want a more professional Web site, I'd
recommend biting the bullet and getting a packaged designed
specifically for Web authoring.
Then you get into things like scanners, digital cameras, color
printers, etc. Help! Help! I'm being sucked in! :)
Charlotte, NC (USA)