UPDATE:I made a “typo“ in the title... My original title was “SharePoint data view web part not something SharePoint specific“, but of course I meant “SharePoint data view web part not something FrontPage specific“...
The data view web part is not something from SharePoint, it's functionality is already available on any standard SharePoint installation. Only the web part definition (DWP file) is not available on a SharePoint installation. See the DataViewWebPart class in the object model: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/default.asp?url=/library/en-us/spptsdk/html/smpcDataViewWebPart.asp for more information on the data view web part.
This web part is one of the most powerful web parts available in SharePoint, and FrontPage 2003 unleashes it's power by providing the functionality to create views on databases, web services, XML files and the lists and libraries defined in SharePoint. FrontPage also provides the functionality to convert list views into XSLT views by converting the CAML defining the list view to XSLT code. See also http://weblogs.asp.net/soever/archive/2004/03/10/87295.aspx for more information. FrontPage is only a tool to do this conversion and configuration of this XSLT, but after that the created web part is in no way depending on FrontPage. The actual rendering is performed in the object model.
It is almost impossible to do the creation and configuration of a data view web part by hand. FrontPage is an invaluable tool to create and configure the initial data view web part. Problem is that FrontPage contains some “features“ that make it impossible to modify a data view web part on a source that returns a lot of items. You can increase this performance during development by ensuring that only a few items are returned in the query defined by the data view web part, for example by setting a filter through the Data Source properties:
For example reduce the list of items to only items posted by myself. Don't forget to remove this filter after you are ready with developing your view!
You can also modify the data view web part through the default web interface to modify properties in the web part tool-pane. If you don't need to do configuration as available through the FrontPage interface this approach is sometimes even easier than using FrontPage. See http://weblogs.asp.net/soever/archive/2004/05/14/131551.aspx for more information on enabling editing of list view pages and list item edit pages through the web interface.