Adobe GoLive 6.0

by Joe Gillespie — Apr 1, 2002

GoLive 6.0

For more experienced Web designers, Adobe GoLive is the only serious competitor to Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Which one is best for you depends very much on the type of designer you are and the kind of work you get involved in. I, like many other graphic designers, prefer the more visual approach offered by GoLive's drag and drop interface but Dreamweaver has had the upper hand for creating certain types of sites with dynamic content.

GoLive 6 has gone a long way in addressing some of these shortcomings. It has added the ability to interact with online databases using a wide variety of server technologies including ASP, JSP and PHP making it more than a match for Dreamweaver. The fact that it also runs natively in MacOSX is another major advantage.

Apart from the database connectivity features, GoLive has also had many smaller improvements that help to fine-tune and improve its functionality.

In addition to its 'Source' tab on the main window, it now sports a separate source code window so that you can view the layout and the source code simultaneously. Selecting an object or section of text in the layout window highlights the corresponding source code in the other window making it very easy to correlate the 'cause and effect' of a layout decision and its source code implications.

Another improvement over earlier versions is the 'Markup Tree' along the bottom of the layout window that shows the hierarchy of objects in the window and makes it easier to select them in complex layouts. This feature has been available in Dreamweaver for some time but it is very welcome here nevertheless.

Two features that help to make the process of producing Web pages less painful are the much improved syntax checker and the 'browser profile' preview.

The syntax checker lets you choose which standards you want to comply with. You can opt for the various levels of W3C compliance - HTML 3.2, 4 Transitional, Strict, Frameset or XHTML 1.0, or you can go for simple browser compatibility. The best option is probably to pick up the compliance requirements from the DOCTYPE at the top of the page - which GoLive can now add itself. You can have it alert you to errors in your source code and highlight them. It can also warn of things that are not strictly errors, but could cause problems in certain situations or browsers. Very useful!

The 'browser profile' feature tries hard to simulate the rendering of your pages in various browsers from Netscape 6 back to version 3 of Explorer and Netscape. It also has Support for Nokia XHTML and DoCoMo but Explorer 6 support is conspicuous by its absence. Considering that Explorer 6 now has a very significant installed base, this is a serious omission.

In use, I found the previews to be inaccurate in many respects compared to previews in the actual browsers, as they didn't take rendering bugs and peculiarities into account. So, you can only use this feature to give a very rough idea of individual browser rendering, it's not a substitute for the real thing.

GoLive provides lots of ways of doing the same thing. Apart from now having two source code windows, and various layout options, I can't help but feel that there is now a high degree of redundancy. So many things have been 'bolted-on' in the last few updates and now new things are being bolted-on to those. This all leads to complication, confusion and inelegance. With the 'Modules Manager' palette in the preferences, it is possible to switch-off some of the features that you never use and reduce the complexity but I think that this could be taken even further.

I would like to be able to get rid of all features that allow non-compliant code to be generated such as the <font> tag and the ability to define table heights as percentages. What is the point of having a built-in syntax checker that indicates that GoLive's own code generation is non-compliant?

GoLive's implementation of CSS editing is arguably the best there is and considerably more advanced than that of Dreamweaver, but it is still too clumsy and complicated. The CSS editor was one of those bolt-ons a few versions back but now that CSS is the primary means for specifying type, it needs to be more 'up front'. It is certainly more important than many of the current features like the 'Layout Grid' which can inflict the most torturous, multi-nested table layouts on the unsuspecting designer who might be unaware of the consequences.

I am also disappointed to see that the colour palettes haven't been improved. All of Adobe's other main products support the excellent Visibone 2 Web palette arrangement, why not this one where it is most needed?

With all its faults, I still prefer GoLive to Dreamweaver. Admittedly, a personal preference based upon the type of work I do and I can concede that Dreamweaver would be a better solution for others - it's nice to have a choice. Both editors seem to have problems keeping up with the current state-of-the-art in Web design. GoLive 6 is certainly a step in the right direction, just not a big enough one.

I believe there is room for a new WYSIWYG editor that is not hampered with the extraneous baggage that these two have accumulated - one that takes a more modern and intelligent approach to Web design and knows what to leave out. 'More' and 'better' are two entirely different concepts that seem to perpetually confuse software marketing people!

Adobe GoLive 6.0
Features red bar90%
Ease of Use yellow bar85%
Value for Money green bar90%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar85%
Manufacturer Adobe
Price Full product $399, upgrade $99 - Mac OS 9.1 to 10.1, Windows 98 to XP
Summary Useful new features and improvements.
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