Browse no more for Web analysis tools

What-you-see-is-what-you-get authoring packages make it easier to create Web pages with
panache. But agency credibility suffers when site visitors keep tripping over broken
links.


Unless you do all the Web training and have full control, other webmasters who build
pages that link to your agency site probably prefer page development tools other than
yours.


Can you edit their pages without damaging their code? Will they hate you for neat or
not-so-neat enhancements your software gratuitously inserts?


Then there are the times your boss wants to organize the site differently. Can your
tools visually present alternate structures for consideration? Or must you retreat to your
desk for days of tedious labor to edit each page?


Reorganizations can also wreak havoc in a site. Shuffling duties affects more than
content. Each perturbation forces you to reorganize pages and directories to reflect the
new structure.


You need tools to move pages nimbly from one directory to another so that competing
offices' junior webmasters can't tinker with one another's files.


The packages in this review are designed for managing large institutional Web sites. If
you are responsible for even 12 pages, they are for you.


We evaluated six management packages: Adobe Systems Inc.'s SiteMill 2.0, Corel Corp.'s
CorelWeb.SiteManager, Mercury Interactive Corp.'s Astra SiteManager, Microsoft Corp.'s
Site Analyst 2.0, Site Technologies Inc.'s SiteSweeper 2.0 and Tetranet Software Inc's
Linkbot 3.5.


We looked for five important features:


Our Reviewer's Choice is CorelWeb.SiteManager, part of the Corel Webmaster Suite. The
package easily imports local or external sites and lets the webmaster reorganize by
dragging and dropping files and directories. It has an option to update links to reflect a
move.


It does more than the other tools, partly because it includes a WYSIWYG editor, a .gif
file animation editor, a graphics editing program and 8,000 clip-art images.


SiteManager shows a decent graphical map of links, site graphics and other items. It
can list orphan files and broken links as well as pages based on content, such as those
that use Java, frames or forms.


Web.SiteManager's link agent checks external links to make sure they are sound. It has
global find-and-replace and built-in File Transfer Protocol. And it even scans for
viruses.


For Apple Macintosh hosts, the best choice is Adobe SiteMill 2.0. It comes packaged
with PageMill 2.0 for Mac at only $99 and is adept at importing local sites. But it cannot
pull sites from the Web.


Its built-in Site Uploader can ftp from site to server. Webmasters can drag and drop to
reorganize sites and update links. SiteMill has global find-and-replace but lacks a
graphical map. It does, however, show the directory structure and a list of incoming and
outgoing links for each file.


SiteMill lists broken links and orphaned files. PageMill for Mac users can download it
free from http://www.adobe.com. The PC version will
arrive with PageMill 2.5.


Mercury Interactive's Astra SiteManager readily imports local or external sites. It
gives an excellent overview of a whole site with links to various parts. The Link Doctor
tool lists the broken links. Astra SiteManager can filter views to hide or show pages with
Java or audio files, but at $495, it's rather expensive for what it does.


Microsoft Site Analyst 2.0, formerly NetCarta WebMapper, is available only as part of
Microsoft's Site Server 2.0, a $1,499 suite. Site Server supports high-end electronic
commerce sites.


Site Analyst easily imports local or external sites and does mapping well. It can
create a variety of detailed HTML reports ready for placement on the server. One of those
reports is an HTML index of the site.


Webmasters can save the reports and maps for later reference. Site Analyst compares
versions of the site and generates a report of changes--just the sort of statistics upper
management likes.


Site Analyst filters and lists files based on text strings, link status, authors or
meta tags. It will verify links on or off site but can't reorganize directories or pages.


Perhaps Microsoft does not want it to compete with the company's FrontPage or Visual
InterDev.


Curiously, Site Technologies' SiteSweeper 2.0 can check sites out only on the Web, not
local sites on a PC.


It catalogs all images used and determines which ones are distorted or need Alt, Height
and Width attributes.


SiteSweeper shows which page titles are duplicated and finds broken links. It creates
an HTML report with graphs and statistics on broken links, image size, outgoing and
incoming uniform resource locators, and last-modified dates.


It has no site map feature but does display a site in the way Windows Explorer presents
your hard-drive contents. But you can't reorganize a site with this tool.


Perhaps because it employs Java, SiteSweeper takes much longer than the other programs
to analyze a site. The HTML report is extensive and useful. At $495, SiteSweeper is in the
middle of the price range.


Tetranet Software's Linkbot 3.5 finds broken links, missing images and stale content.
It can check internal or external links and identify orphaned files.


A good reporting feature supplies an HTML report with information about links, download
times and images used.


Linkbot readily imports local or external sites and sorts links according to Hypertext
Transfer Protocol, image, FTP, mailto, Java applet or multimedia links.


But the $249 program can neither globally search and replace, nor can it reorganize
your site.


Jason Hart is a webmaster and analyst at American Management Technologies Inc. in
Washington. Walter R. Houser is webmaster for a Cabinet agency.


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