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Weekly Wisdom from Bob Levitus
Which Web page builder to use?
Dr. Mac

You may remember, almost a year ago, I published an open letter in this space, begging NetObjects to reconsider the elimination of Macintosh support for their flagship product NetObjects Fusion.

I't didn't work. As the NetObjects web site so aptly put it: "After much research and consideration, we have decided to no longer develop new versions of NetObjects Fusion for Macintosh."

So now I'm stuck. There will be no new versions of NetObjects Fusion, which means I need a new tool to modify and maintain my Web pages. So I checked out three programs -- Adobe's GoLive 4.0, Claris (FileMaker) Home Page 3.0, and Macromedia Dreamweaver 3.0.

I played with GoLive 4.0 a lot last year when it first came out and liked it pretty well. It's powerful, and once you get used to it, relatively fast for building pages and sites. But, it had some trouble importing sites I created in NetObjects Fusion and I never really got totally comfortable with its somewhat quirky interface.

So I continued my search with a quick look at Claris Home Page. On the plus side, Home Page is quite easy to use, has great connectivity to FileMaker 4, and costs around 1/3 of what GoLive or Dreamweaver cost. On the minus side, the program hasn't been updated in a couple of years and I suspect version 3 may be the last version. Also, Home Page doesn't appear to support the latest version of FileMaker (Version 5), and it lacks many whizzy features -- cascading style sheets, XML support, etc. -- found in both GoLive and Dreamweaver. Since I didn't want to be orphaned again and wanted CSS and XML support, I eliminated Home Page from the running, at least for me.

Last, but definitely not least, I tried Macromedia Dreamweaver 3. And so far I think it's the one I like best. From its elegant support of Cascading Style Sheets, XML, DHTML, and JavaScript, to its clean, powerful interface, this muscular tool seems to have it all for the serious Web designer, which is just what I want to be when I grow up.

Another thing I like about Dreamweaver is that it not only supports other Macromedia programs such as Flash (interactive vector-based graphics and animations) and Fireworks (graphics/rollovers/GIF animations), it integrates seamlessly with them. For what it's worth, Adobe has yet to integrate GoLive fully with Photoshop and/or Illustrator.

Other stuff I like about Dreamweaver includes good documentation and tutorials, a way-cool search-and-replace function that can find and replace text, graphics, and links anywhere in your site with a single click, and the fact that Macromedia thoughtfully includes a demo copy of my favorite HTML text editor, BBEdit.

But don't take my word for it. While I can see myself becoming an avid Dreamweaver user in the coming months, you may very well prefer the way GoLive works. Or you may prefer the simplicity and low price of Home Page. Luckily, all three programs have downloadable demo versions, so you can see for yourself which one works best for you.

Adobe GoLive 4.0
Adobe Systems, Inc. San Jose, California
(408) 536-6000 or (800) 833-6687.
Street price $300.
Download trial version from:
http://www.adobe.com/products/golive/demodnld.html.

Home Page 3.0.
FileMaker, Inc. Santa Clara, California
(408) 987-7000 or (800) 325-2747.
Street price $90.
Download trial version from:
http://www.filemaker.com/products/try_
filemaker.html#homepage3
.

Dreamweaver 3.
Macromedia, Inc. San Francisco, California
(415) 252-2000.
Street price $300.
Street price for Dreamweaver 3/Fireworks 3 bundle $400.
Download trial version from:
http://www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/trial/.

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Bob LeVitus is a leading authority on the Mac OS and the author of 34 books, including Mac OS 9 For Dummies. E-mail comments to [email protected].
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