With WebSuite2, it's simple to add graphics to your site

WebSuite2 collects many professionally designed Web images called styles. Each style
group has about 70 different design components, such as headlines, bullets, navigation
buttons, icons and rules, each with complementary backgrounds. I worked with the Designer
edition, which has more than 1,900 starter images.

 If they were only static images, WebSuite2 would be just another clip-art
collection. Instead, it has tools to customize and manage the starter images, plus
caffeinated components-Java applets for animation and dynamic behavior. Caffeinated
components respond to the Web user's actions by flashing, blinking, fading or moving in
other ways.

 You can create your own styles with the component editor or modify the
professionally designed style groups. The component editor has tools to format text,
create rules, position elements, and import and edit images.

 The text tool is especially useful for adding your agency's name or other
information to major and minor heads, navigation buttons, caffeinated components and other
elements. Just point and click to apply special effects such as shadowing, shading,
transparency, texture, color and anti-aliasing.

 Although it's possible to draw in WebSuite2 directly, you'll probably want to create
basic images in another program and import them for customization and management.

 Style groups and images reside in the component catalog, an object database that
converts all components to the Graphics Interface Format, the most common graphical format
on the Web. 

The catalog helps you apply and maintain a consistent look throughout your site.

 WebSuite2 stores files internally in the Portable Network Graphic (PNG) format,
which is gaining Web acceptance. It lets a graphic artist manipulate multiple layers in
ways impossible with the GIF and Joint Photographic Experts Group formats.


Bandwidth conservationists will applaud this program's load timer, which reports file
size and estimated download time across a range of connections from 14.4-kilobit/sec
modems to T1 lines. If a graphic exceeds your limits, you can modify it with the component
editor.

 WebSuite2's image manager works with elements created with the component editor or
other graphics applications. It imports and exports in PNG, JPEG, GIF, bit map and PC
Paintbrush formats. The image manager has transparency and compression options to convert
these conventional formats for Web use.

 WebSuite2's design wizards lead you through, creating entire pages in Hypertext
Markup Language. They insert selected style elements with the appropriate tags for
headings, buttons and rules. The design wizards operate natively in WebSuite2 and
integrate seamlessly with Microsoft FrontPage.

 You can customize entire style groups in minutes. WebSuite2 uses the same
file-naming scheme in each group.

 For example, major headings are 500.gif, 501.gif and so on. Minor headings are
600.gif, 601.gif and so on.

 At first I didn't like this scheme. I prefer more descriptive names like
blue_rule.gif. But as DigitalStyle Corp.'s representatives pointed out, this method makes
updates easier. By replacing the contents of your Web image directory with identically
named files from a different style group, you can give your site a complete graphical
face-lift in minutes without changing a single line of code.

 Because WebSuite2 supports Object Linking and Embedding, you can drag noncaffeinated
parts from WebSuite2 into most HTML editors. Java animation integration is less intuitive
but not too time-consuming.
 


This package is a gem begging to be polished. Its 16-bit code makes file management
somewhat confusing on 32-bit platforms. It doesn't support bit map resizing of imported
images, so you must export them to another editor to enlarge or reduce them. The
Frequently Asked Questions Wizard has a bug that causes broken image links. And I really
would like to customize multiple styles in a single pass.

 The printed manual is a foldout card, so there is no advantage to ordering the
shrink-wrapped box instead of downloading the program from DigitalStyle's Web site. Online
documentation and a tutorial are adequate.

 The supplemental documentation and frequently asked questions posted on the company
site will answer most users' questions.

 The unlimited toll-free support policy is extremely generous by today's standards.

 DigitalStyle's support staff members seemed knowledgeable not only about their
products but about others used in tandem, such as HTML editors and site-management
programs.

 Most problems I've encountered with WebSuite2 were cosmetic or merely annoying.
Work-arounds for a few known bugs appear on the company's site.

 Fred Cutler, DigitalStyle's vice president of marketing, said the company will fix
the bugs in a 32-bit version. Due out in June, the coming version also will support
single-pass customization for multiple styles, Cutler said. 

The 32-bit version just might be an A+ product. I look forward to it.


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