Adobe GoLive CS

by Joe Gillespie — Nov 1, 2003

Adobe's new Creative Studio is a suite of their most popular programs bundled-up together - Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, GoLive and Acrobat plus a new utility called Version Cue that keeps track of project versions. Although Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat do have their uses in Web design, it is GoLive and Photoshop that I'm going to concentrate on here as they are the most relevant. They will be available separately as new licenses or upgrades when Creative Studio becomes available in November.

Last month, I reviewed Macromedia Dreamweaver MX 2004 and I was a bit disappointed with it. It depends very much upon the type of work you do but I have always found GoLive more suited to my particular needs. Recently, as I got into the depths of CSS-P and XHTML, GoLive 6 became increasingly inadequate and I had to revert to hand coding.

Although I always though its handling of CSS to be more intuitive than Dreamweaver's, once you stepped beyond the absolutely-positioned-from-the-top-left-corner layers, it quickly ran out of steam. It was my highest hope that Adobe would bring GoLive up to date with modern Web standards and with all the capabilities of CSS-P that makes Web design so much more rewarding.

Opening-up GoLive CS for the first time, I was happy to see the (mostly) familiar interface and I immediately opened last month's editorial because that was exactly what I had done with Dreamweaver last time. To my delight, the fairly complex XHTML/CSS-P layout displayed exactly as I would have wished it to with each and every div box indicated by a dotted line. I scrolled down to the bottom of the page and tried editing some of the text. This was the test, if you remember, that brought Dreamweaver to its knees. Editing text there with Dreamweaver was like wading through treacle. GoLive had no such problem and selecting and editing text was a breeze.

My next test was to try building a new page from scratch. Dragging and dropping a layer from the 'objects' palette worked just the same as in previous versions but now it could be referenced to any edge, not just top left. Great! I then looked round for an icon to drag and drop a <div> that I could make into a floating column. I couldn't find one. Luckily, with GoLive, you can easily add your own draggable icons through 'extend scripts' and I was able to make one in a few minutes. I don't understand why this was left out.

GoLive's method for creating and applying styles is hard to beat. To make a new style definition is just a matter of clicking '<>',' .' or '#' button representing elements, classes and ids respectively. The tabbed palette interface displays the various style attributes in logical groups and now provides a very useful preview of what style definitions are going to look like when applied to a block of text.

The 'integration' that Adobe bangs the drum about so much to justify the 'Creative Studio' name comes from the previously introduced 'Smart Objects' and the ability to output Web pages in .PDF format. Dragging a Photoshop, Illustrator or PDF Smart Object onto a page links an image to a .PSD, .AI (or .EPS) or .PDF and opens the appropriate editor with the file in place ready to edit. When you have cropped, resized, changed copy or whatever, just click 'Save' and the image is added to the page. It's all so seamless, quick and simple.

Now for a few negatives. I mentioned last month that Dreamweaver was able to render my tortuous FunWithFonts pages perfectly in WYSIWYG editing mode (Design Mode). For many of the pages, GoLive couldn't get the relatively positioned divs in the correct relationship. They were all there, and perfectly editable, but not in the right places. Flicking to preview mode did, however, render them correctly. GoLive also has its own built-in rendering facility which is called 'Live Rendering'. It opens in a separate window and renders elements on the fly as you add or change them. This means that you can be editing in 'source' mode in one window and every second or so, the 'Live Rendering' window auto-updates to show the changes. Okay, it's a solution but I would still prefer a more accurate WYSIWYG view. I have to say that, most pages will render just fine in 'Layout' mode. My test pages are particularly demanding but it is one situation where Dreamweaver has the edge. I should point out that the review copy of GoLive CS that I received from Adobe was an early beta and had some bugs and refresh problems. Hopefully things will change in the final release version.

On the whole, GoLive CS is everything I hoped it would be, and more. It takes care of the deficiencies of GoLive 6 and does so without becoming over-complicated. The new 'integration' features do what they are supposed to do and will be warmly welcomed by designers upgrading to Adobe Creative Studio.

Adobe Golive CS
Features red bar90%
Ease of Use yellow bar90%
Value for Money green bar85%
'Must Have' Factor blue bar85%
Manufacturer Adobe
Price $399.00 - Upgrades $169
Summary Much improved for modern Web standards.
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