Technology

Top-Notch Tools for Web Development


By Dennis O'Reilly You don't need a sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall, and you don't need a $400 software package in order to create and post a simple Web site: Many HTML editors and FTP clients are available, some at no charge.

But if you're ready to take your Web authoring to the next level, some new software is worth the higher price: Macromedia's Dreamweaver MX and Adobe's GoLive 6. Both strive to make data movement simple within their own suite of products and to allow Web development team members to swap tasks with one another more easily.

MORE INTEGRATION. Macromedia has an irritating history of placing new interfaces on new versions of its products, and it has done it again with Dreamweaver MX. But at least this $399 Web design package (upgrade, $199) gives you the option of using the old version 4 workspace. (Users of versions 4 and 5 of Macromedia's Flash Web-animation software have no such choice: They must deal with yet another interface revamp in the new Flash MX version of the popular vector-graphics program.)

The previous versions of Dreamweaver were separate, unintegrated programs. This iteration takes a solid step toward suite-ification with panels that now function in the same way as the panels in Flash and in Macromedia's Fireworks image editing program. In the new look, panels are docked instead of floating on the screen, reducing clutter. In addition, a new row of tabs along the top of the screen places layout, table, text, form, and other common functions a single click away.

A FAMILY AFFAIR. Even more than Macromedia, Adobe focuses on making the lives of Web development team members easier. Its GoLive 6 is designed to integrate seamlessly with other Adobe software: Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and LiveMotion. This allows you to convert artwork from these programs into animation-ready objects while retaining the ability to edit them in their native application.

The $399 GoLive 6 (upgrade, $99) includes the WebDAV-based Web Workgroup Server, which facilitates file sharing. Also new: a view that can show code and layout simultaneously in two windows; and full support for Photoshop source files, text, and vector layers. Among other things, the latter feature conveniently allows you to resize a sliced Photoshop (.psd) file directly, rather than having to work on it in Photoshop.

TOE TO TOE. Dreamweaver MX and GoLive 6 are high-quality tools that mesh well with their manufacturers' other development software. Dreamweaver's edge over GoLive 6 rests in its integration with Macromedia's ColdFusion server scripting environment--including Microsoft's ASP.net, which GoLive doesn't support. On the other hand, if the ability to share .psd and other Adobe file formats between development applications is paramount to a smooth workflow, then go with GoLive 6. From the August 2002 issue of PC World magazine


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