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9/96 Reviews SW: HoTMetaL PRO 3.0

Listing of September 1996 Reviews

Add Power to Web Pages

By Paul Silverman

As far as I'm concerned, manna has just fallen from the Internet. HoTMetaL PRO 3.0 has just about everything a woebegone Web author could want.

As Webmaster for WINDOWS Magazine, I've spent countless hours struggling with cranky HTML editors and cryptic codes for frames, tables and forms. I've also spent months searching for the tool that would put an end to my Web woes. HoTMetaL PRO 3.0 features a WYSIWYG environment that lets aspiring authors create and edit Web pages without HTML experience.

Using a series of buttons, pull-down menus and customizable toolbars, it lets you format text, create lists, insert a variety of forms, choose your page's color schemes, and add images and page links. The interface is fully drag-and-drop; create links or insert text and image files by dragging them from an Explorer window.

Non-text items on a page are treated as individual elements, and you can access their attributes with a right-click of your mouse. Clicking on an inserted image, for example, lets you adjust a number of HTML properties including height, width, border and alignment.

HoTMetaL's most notable feature is its Frame Editor. Once you've created a new blank page, select the Convert to Frames option and HoTMetaL automatically inserts all necessary coding, including <NOFRAMES> tags for browsers that don't support frames. Open the Frame Editor, and you're presented with an empty template page surrounded by a yellow border. Simply drag and drop the border from any side to create the size and number of frames you'd like. Then click inside each frame and select its contents by typing in the URL or file path in the included Source box. Finally, click on OK and check out the page using the Preview option.

Creating tables is just as easy. The Insert Table feature lets you select the number of rows and columns plus the border, alignment, color, width and spacing of the table. HoTMetaL inserts a table into your page and lets you edit specific cells by right-clicking on any one and adjusting its respective HTML properties.

Unfortunately, while HoTMetaL's WYSIWYG interface does give you the option of displaying primary HTML tags such as <P>, <TABLE> and <FORM>, you can't edit or even view the complete source. Code enthusiasts may find the interface a bit distracting, but in the end this feature-rich tool can eliminate hours normally spent on advanced coding.

I was pleased to see a good graphics library in the box, and even more pleased to find an image-map and graphics editing tool, MetalWorks.

The program also lets you create and save your own templates-helpful if you're trying to keep a multi-page site uniform.

The program does not manage sites or test links, but SoftQuad will release a companion product this fall called HiP (HoTMetaL Intranet Publisher), which will include page authoring, link checking, multi-file search and replace, batch conversion, advanced style sheets and personalized tags. It should sell for under $500.

Since hitting the I-way, I've been looking for a Web godsend that will do everything for me. Granted, HoTMetaL PRO 3.0 is missing a source code editor and management tools, but it's still the most complete authoring app I've seen for beginners, and a worthy companion for seasoned Webmasters.

--Info File--
HoTMetaL PRO 3.0
Pros: Frame Editor; tools; ease of use
Cons: No source code editor or management tools
Platforms: Windows 95, 3.1x, NT
Disk Space: 20MB
800-387-2777, 416-239-4801
WinMag Box Score: 4.0

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