Adobe PageMill 3.0 is an inexpensive way to build Web pages

Pros and cons:
+        Easy for making complex Web pages with frames,
forms, tables, sound, Java and ActiveX controls
+        Entire-site view from your local hard drive
–        Upload functions not compatible with all
FTP servers
–        Most documentation in PDF


Real-life requirements:
Win95 or NT 4.0 or later with 24M RAM for NT, 20M free on hard drive, CD-ROM drive,
Internet connection





If your agency’s Web content managers suffer from the “I can’t do
that” syndrome, get them Adobe PageMill 3.0. They’ll be surprised how fast and
easy it is to make well-designed, content-rich pages without knowing Hypertext Markup
Language.


The $99 package comes on a single CD-ROM. If you have auto-play enabled under Microsoft
Windows 95, Adobe Installer will run as soon as the disk is inserted.


You can also choose to install the scaled-down Adobe Photoshop LE, AT&T WorldNet,
Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 and other goodies.


The Installer accesses documentation, site styles, content and templates. It even links
to various Adobe Systems Inc. Web sites.


When I installed PageMill, I chose not to register the program over the Internet. I
prefer to keep personal information away from marketing departments. This usually causes
no problems, but my reticence came back to haunt me.


PageMill’s Getting Started manual contains little detail. There is enough
information to set up frames, design tables and upload your site, but advanced topics such
as Java and ActiveX controls are not covered. To learn more about such features, you must
go to the CD-ROM and view the .pdf files with Acrobat Reader.


If you’ve ever typed in all the HTML code for a Web site with a text editor,
you’ll like PageMill. Creating a new page is like working in your favorite word
processor. You type new text directly onto the page. Alignment and font size are
controlled by buttons on a toolbar at the screen top. There are tool tips if you forget
the purpose of a button.


Inserting images is as easy as adding text. Place the insertion pointer, choose left,
right or centered alignment and select the image. Sound file insertion follows the same
process.


In a few hours, I had designed and uploaded a new Web site with frames, sound, a Java
applet and color-coordinated style. Most of the site was easy to build, but I did run into
a few problems.


When I tried to test my frame links in the Preview mode, nothing happened. I started
Netscape Communicator, and all the links worked as expected. I then called Adobe technical
support and ran into my second problem. No one would talk to me because I hadn’t
registered and didn’t have the serial number on hand.


So I registered the program, called again with the serial number and finally found
someone to help me. The problem was quickly resolved by dragging the frame links from the
target page to the correct button on the table of contents screen. I had made the link
manually, which caused file recognition errors.


I encountered one other problem. PageMill wouldn’t upload the site from my local
hard drive to my Internet provider’s File Transfer Protocol server. It would log on
to the site, change to the proper directory, open the first file for upload and then stop.


When I opened a public-domain program called Cute FTP, it uploaded all my site files
without trouble. Adobe tech support determined that my provider was using a beta version
of an FTP server and said it might have caused PageMill’s failure. They couldn’t
explain why Cute FTP succeeded.


Previous versions of PageMill have suffered from poor table features. Version 3.0 is
vastly better. You can control the number of rows and columns, cell spacing, padding and
border size. You can constrain the table and cell widths, assign different background
colors to single cells and assign a background color to the entire table.


One of the best features is the ability to view your entire Web site from a local hard
drive. This makes it easy to test and verify links without connecting to a provider.


PageMill shows all link errors in the Error section of the Site Overview. You can
verify that all links are intact or quickly identify which links and files are missing.
Also, you can verify all external links when connected to the Internet.


Hard-core, text-only HTML coders should leave PageMill alone; they won’t like it.
But if you’re an occasional site designer or want to build a quick site with minimum
effort, get PageMill. Its feature set is extensive, and you can use any fonts installed on
your system.


William M. Frazier, a PC hobbyist, is the postmaster of Taholah, Wash.

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