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Susan Ives teaches the Jumpstart Your Web Page class for Alamo PC every second Wednesday from 5:30 until 7 p.m.

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me what Web editor to buy Iíd be a rich woman. The truth is, there is no one best tool. If you asked a hundred Webmasters, youíd get a hundred different answers. I asked a couple of experienced Webmasters to voice their opinion.

Mike Bianchi Mike is the webmaster for the Alamo PC Web site and teaches the hands-on HTML class

These days it seems like every software company has a product that it claims will help you develop your own razzle-dazzle web site with no need to learn HTML. But which ones, if any, work? The answer is: none

As I frequently tell my students, there is no web development tool that will do the job it claims to. I have tried most of them and all have serious shortcomings.

This is not to say that they should not be used. A site of the size and complexity of Alamo PC (approximately 5000 files) cannot be built or maintained manually, however, no HTML editor can be relied on exclusively.

Having said that, my primary tool is Netscape Composer. It is available for free download from Stroudís as part of the Netscape Communicator Suite (22.6 MB, be prepared to wait for it). Stay with version 4.76, it plugs the security holes that were in earlier versions, there are a lot of new holes in version 6.

Composer is quick and easy to use. It installs itself into the Windows Property Popup (right-click) so that a document can be loaded directly from the Windows Explorer or the Desktop. Arranging elements in the page is as simple as drag-and-drop and formatting uses menus and toolbars just like any WYSIWYG word processor. Composerís shortcomings include that it cannot handle frames or forms, it will simply display an icon indicating that something more is there and cannot create these elements. When moving or copying a list from one document to another, the last item will frequently be outside the list. 

To remedy these problems, I most often use Notepad, great for quick-and-dirty editing. Even Notepad has its shortcomings, though. When I built my genealogy site I had to break up the index into 35 different files to get a manageable file size. That required updating several thousand links. WordPadís global Search-and-Replace feature proved to be a lifesaver (Notepad has Search but no Replace).

Site Management
Microsoft FrontPage has some features that are particularly useful in site management, it can verify both internal and external links. Another neat feature is that when a file is renamed or moved, all links are automatically updated. The downside of FrontPage (Iím using FrontPage 98) is that it trashes directories, copying files all over the place.

Graphics editors
Most of my graphics work is done with PaintShop Pro 5 from JASC. I have been trying to get a review copy of the new version 7 but Tim Hoke has been unable to get a copy (JASC, if youíre reading this, work with me). PaintShop packs a lot of power for a relatively small price. The use of layers makes composite images easy, as in Larryís portrait in the Presidentís Report page was actually put together from 4 different images. Animated GIFs are done with AnimationPro, also from JASC. A great product for 3D graphics is RayDream Designer. This product is 5-6 years old and I donít think is still available. RayDream is a modeling based ray tracer, that mean it creates images by calculating the path of light rays reflecting off of objects. RayDream also does animation but animated GIF files are usually too large for web use, it can also create AVIs.

Web development and maintenance can be a time consuming job. Let the computer do the work and donít depend on any one software package to get the job done.

George A Carrasco George is a retired Army physical therapy specialist who has transitioned full-time into the IT arena. He is webmaster for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

I grudgingly left my Hotdog Webmaster's Suite at home and am now working at a small non-profit organization as the Website Administrator. The organization is experiencing growth pains from a small group to over 60 employees in two states. FrontPage 2000 replaced FP98 when I got there and I was kind of lost with it's different interface, but since I had Notepad and I had my registered copy of Qedit on floppy. I was ready to rumble!

Luckily, I arrived during the organization's slow season and assessed the site's structure ó Aaaugh! Like many novice Webmasters, my predecessor wasn't that prudent in laying out the site - over 100-files in the root. I used FrontPage to manually move files but quickly learned that it only seemed to preserve the links if only one file at a time was moved. If more than that was moved, it didn't reconfigure for the new file locations, which was more work for me.

Quickly, I found I was developing a love/hate relationship with this program. Sure, it boasted a lot of bells and whistles over FP 98, but I stayed close to familiar stuff. Slowly I stumbled onto other items that I would eventually need: marquees, reports view, nesting tables, check broken links, etc. but was frustrated not to be able to use smaller font sizes, -1, -2,...

You'd figure that exporting an MSWord file into MS FrontPage would be simple - uh-uh. Too much garbage is left and has to be removed for the page to be viewed correctly. FP2000 has "Remove Formatting" which isn't pretty, or clean. Stripping "dirty-code" with Notepad was becoming routine for me and other users I spoke with also. I do feel a bit limited with this product and we are now looking at more robust software (Macromedia's Dreamweaver UltraDev, Fireworks, Flash, & Freehand) especially since there is now a request to do e-commerce, intranet, redesign website, etc.

As with some of the other HTML editors, your ISP must support FrontPage extensions to make your website happen.

My current hardware setup is: HP's Pavillion, ScanJet 5200C, DeskJet812C, and my 17" Viewsonic monitor. I've outgrown the Pavillion and am configuring a new system to allow for growth. Support software I find useful: ACDSee to manage images, Qedit & Notepad, Adobe Acrobat 3.0 to create/read PDFs, SnagIt, and Fireworks.

The website has grown considerably in size (22MB in June 2000 to 86MB in Jan 2001). We have a monthly magazine on PDF plus press releases, which add to the overall site.

Do I like FrontPage 2000? It gets the job done, but definitely needs improvement.

Check out: [http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/] for additional information on Microsoft FrontPage 2000

Susan Ives Susan teaches Alamo PCís jumpstart your Web page class. She has designed dozens of Web sites but for fun, look at the San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble

I was one of the early adopters of HomeSite, an HTML editor that advertises a WYSIWYN interface ó What You See Is What You Need. It boasts of more than a million downloads, is the preferred editor for professional Web site developers and has swept every award imaginable. 

HomeSite is ideal for experienced web designers who want total control over their code. I have experimented with some WYSIWYG - What You See Is What You Get - editors and was dismayed at the weird code that most of them created - when they let you look at the code. The core of HomeSite is a simple text editor, similar to NotePad. The added features are what make it sing. 

Dedicated buttons call up dialog boxes to simplify routine procedures, such as changing fonts and colors or adding hyperlinks. There is a menu bar for extended characters, so you don't have to remember that ™ is the code for ô. You can create templates for repetitive pages. One of the best features is the project manager, which allows you to group files by project and perform global search and replace actions on an entire Web site. It has a spell checker. A feature I use frequently is the document weight estimate, which calculates the approximate download speed of each page at different modem rates. 

The program is available for download ; you can use it for 60 days before you are required to remove it from your system or pay the $89 registration fee. Although Iíve upgraded to version 4.5 I confess that I still use an older version. 

I recently bought Macromedia DreamWeaver cheaply at a computer show in New Jersey; Iíve played around with it but find the screen confusing and cluttered. I did figure out how to do Javascript rollovers in DreamWeaver and love it. DreamWeaver also has a feature that removed Front Page garbage code, which I have also found useful. Iím looking forward to finding time to explore all the features of this program. My brother gave me a good DreamWeaver tip. He recommends using the Windows 98 capability to install two monitors on two video cards. On one monitor, dump all of the palettes that clutter up the screen. On the other monitor, display the now pristine work area. It works for him.

My primary graphics program is Adobe Photoshop 6.0, which comes bundled with ImageReady to reduce the size of my graphics. I also have PaintShop Pro 5 installed, which I use for some very specific features. For example, Photoshop doesnít have a utility to automatically draw a box around a graphic; PaintShop Pro does. Itís also easier in PaintShop Pro to add a texture or pattern fill to a graphic. I keep CorelDraw installed to fit text to path. I also use Adobe Acrobat 4 to create PDF files.

I have a scanner and two digital cameras. My digital drawing pad in on loan to a friend. I use Cute FTP for uploads and now that Iíve listed all of that I realize I need a bigger, better and faster computer.

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