Microsoft's Web site authoring program, FrontPage, has a bug that paralyses it when dealing with large Web sites. Although the company has a problem with the word "bug", it does not deny "there is an issue" with the product.
Unlike most authoring programs, FrontPage uses its own proprietary method of copying Web site designs from client to server. The command "CopyWeb" was designed to simplify the task of copying sites from one location to another and uses the HTTP protocol instead of the usual FTP method. Because HTTP has a pre-determined 'time out period', servers collapse if FrontPage fails to deliver the Web within the time limit. For sites over 1MB in size, the server has to have its timing responses changed to accommodate the issue.
PC Week has tested the error which exists on V1.1 and FrontPage 97. In both cases using a T1 connection, the error occurred after just 1.5Mb of data had been transferred. To remedy the problem we had to adjust the time out command at the server end and start again.
Guy Swarbrick, Frontpage's marketing manager, insists this is not a bug, rather a "part of the learning curve" that comes with Web design and construction.
"In most instances you need to be flexible with the time out function at the server end, but this is not a bug." He denied rumours that Microsoft is scrapping the HTTP CopyWeb function. "We chose to use HTTP for a number of reasons including security, but this has now exposed a limitation with HTTP and we may have to find an alternative," he said.
FrontPage is in its second iteration with FrontPage 97 and it does creak a bit when building large sites. However, my own site at www.gemini.org.uk, which is nearly 10Mb, was successfully transferred to my ISP once an adjustment had been made to the CERN server. Instead of the default 10 minute period, I now use two hours.
I'll be reviewing FrontPage 97 at the end of January.
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