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The following are answers to common questions in the Microsoft FrontPage Client Newsgroup:

Frames vs. Tables

Benefits of using Frames

  • Any graphics, text, or any other object stored within the frame itself only has to be loaded one time (unless you change the frame set).
  • The objects within the frame set will be visible at all times without regard to the length of a given web page.
  • Proper use of frames of frames can lend to a consistent look and feel for a site.
  • A site that has properly designed frames can be easy to navigate.

Cons of using Frames

  • Not all browser and browser versions support frames. Because of this fact, most sites that utilize frames maintain double of everything -- a frame version of the site and a non-frame version of the site. This leads to a lot of maintenance in keeping the site up-to-date.
  • Search engines index pages at a site. When a visitor clicks on the page, they are taken to that page. In a framed site, the visitor then looses all of the navigational aids of the frame itself. In a poorly designed frame site, the visitor then becomes totally lost from the rest of the site because the only navigational links they see are those on the page; the main navigation links presented within the confines of the framing mechanism are lost.
  • Visitors to the site that find pages of interest cannot easily book mark the page since the address always remain the same in the browser. While pages in non-frame sites can be book marked (saved) with one to three clicks and while not leaving the current page, framed sites require that the visitor go back one page, right click on the link, select properties, highlight and cut the address, escape out of the properties dialog box, paste the address that was cut into the browser address block, press enter to go to the page itself, and then perform the book mark function of the browser. For this reason the majority of users on the Internet absolutely hate frames.

Benefits of using Tables

  • While not all browsers and browser versions support tables, it is very easy to create tables that are viewable by all browsers with little overhead to maintenance; only one page of information is needed as opposed to two pages for a well designed "frame" site.
  • A visitor to a site from a search engine will not become lost due to the "frame" not being present. Each page contains the site navigational aids in addition to the links present on the page itself.
  • Visitors always know the address of the page they are on, and can easily book mark the page for future reference.

Cons of using Tables

  • The main (site) navigational links have to be built into each page as opposed to once-and-done within the "frame". However, with the proper use of templates, the time factor for doing so is negligible.
  • The browser has to determine whether or not to load graphics, text, and other elements on the entire page. This makes table-driven sites slightly slower than frame driven sites (the elements within the frame gets loaded only once and most frame-enabled browsers do not check to reload information).

Peter Abraham

Additional Resources:

Frames Suck Most of the Time

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Last updated: Thursday November 16, 2006 18:22 -0500