HomeSite adds finishing touch to a page

Pros and cons:
+        Good tools that don’t get in the
way
+        Easy transition to XML tagging
–        Short on project-management features


Real-life requirements:
Win95 or Windows NT, 5M free storage, CD-ROM drive if purchased on CD


Point-and-click Web editors such as Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe PageMill are great for
making pages fast, but you rarely get exactly what you want.


The spacing is usually a little off, the Hypertext Markup Language code needs tweaking,
and things in general are not quite good enough. This is when the webmaster starts banging
out HTML code.


Although true diehards refuse to move beyond Microsoft Windows’ NotePad as an HTML
editor, I have settled down with Allaire Corp.’s HomeSite 3.0 and the second beta
release of Version 4.0. Both give just enough help not to be intrusive. The final HomeSite
4.0 will likely be ready for release next month.


HomeSite’s color-coding particularly helps the HTML programmer. HTML tags appear
in one color, JavaScript tags and style sheet properties in other distinct colors. This
makes the relevant code and any missing closing tags obvious, reducing errors.


Previous releases of HomeSite sometimes failed to color the code properly or missed
some of the HTML tags. The second beta version seems to have fixed that. You can choose
what colors to apply to more than 30 tag types, including image tags, table tags, style
sheet properties and comment tags.


HomeSite’s project management tools are not extensive. The Projects window does
organize files into distinct groupings, and integrated File Transfer Protocol sends them
easily to the server.


Although HomeSite 3.0 can open files directly from a Web address, any changes must be
saved locally or sent by FTP back to the server. A link-verification tool gets rid of
pesky “404—Object Not Found” error messages. Another feature displays the
file size and download time of the page.


HomeSite 4.0 has more preview features.


The ideal user of HomeSite is one who has mastered HTML and can make tables or frames
from scratch.


HomeSite helps without getting in the way. For example, when you right-click on any bit
of HTML code and select the Edit Tag option, a pop-up window appears for quickly filling
in new attributes.


A Tag Tree window also shows every tag used on the page in a browserlike view, and
selecting a tag makes its attributes editable.


Customizable keyboard shortcuts and tool bar items speed up the addition of tags. A
customizable completion feature automatically inserts the closing tag when the beginning
tag is typed, which eliminates the chore of tracking down omissions.


As soon you begin typing a tag, a small window pops up to list the attributes. Without
leaving the keyboard, you select the attributes and keep moving.


HomeSite has one of the best Find/Replace features I have seen. Multiline, extended
searches can be done on single files, all open files or multiple documents in multiple
directories. Regular expression searches ensure flexibility.


Version 4.0 offers the option of using Microsoft Word spell-checking instead of
HomeSite’s built-in checker. You can spell-check multiple documents at once.


An HTML validator makes sure the HTML code meets your choice of the World Wide Web
Consortium’s HTML 2.0, 3.2 or 4.0 specification. If there is a nesting error or a
missing closing tag, the validator points it out.


Other small details such as multiple undos and easy switching between documents make
these programs shine. Line numbers and optional word wrapping reveal JavaScript errors.
Templates and wizards, especially the style sheets wizard, get you started quickly on a
new page.


Keyboard shortcuts, new tool bar buttons and even tool bars are easy to customize. Code
snippets for favorite JavaScript functions are just one keystroke away.


If you run into trouble, HomeSite has good built-in help. It covers the program’s
interface and functions as well as details about the HTML 4.0 specification.


New in HomeSite 4.0 is an editable preview, which shows how the page will look at
different screen sizes. The preview allows small editing corrections. To preview
internally, you need Microsoft Internet Explorer; for external previews, any browser will
do.


As you might expect, HomeSite has excellent support for Allaire’s Cold Fusion
scripting. It incorporates many Cold Fusion tags, and free tag packs are downloadable from
Allaire’s Web site.


But HomeSite also includes a free SMIL tag pack. The Synchronized Multimedia
Integration Language, approved by the World Wide Web Consortium, is based on the
Extensible Markup Language.


Downloading the free SMIL tag pack will put SMIL tags, complete with interactive help
files, into your HomeSite installation.


HomeSite 4.0 is a refinement of 3.0 but has enough new features that it will be well
worth buying.


It also incorporates the Microsoft Windows version of the Dreamweaver
what-you-see-is-what-you-get editor from Macromedia Inc. of San Francisco.


A beta version of HomeSite 4.0 is available on Allaire’s site through next month.
A 30-day demo also is available.   

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