Freeway 3.5.6, by Softpress Systems
Posted: 4-Mar-2004

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Softpress Systems Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Bob Schumann Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Introduction
I have dabbled with creating simple web pages in the past, but I never had the time to expand upon my HTML coding knowledge to create more complex pages. With Freeway, I was able to create the more complex web pages and not have to worry about coding them.

Freeway is a very powerful layout page editor and HTML generator. Programming knowledge is not required as Freeway does all of the coding work for you. You create the pages of a website visually and publish the files to your account. A free, time-limited demo version of Freeway may be downloaded from Softpress. The full version of Freeway is $229 as a download, and $249 for the boxed version with printed manuals. If you do not require all of the features of Freeway, take a look at Freeway Express, which is available for $89.00 (download version) and $99.00 (boxed version).

This software was reviewed on a Power Macintosh G4 Quicksilver 867 MHz with 1.125 GB of RAM running Mac OS X 10.3.2. The version of Freeway reviewed was 3.5.6.

Requirements

  • Mac OS 9: PowerPC with 64MB physical RAM
  • Mac OS X: Macintosh G3 with 128MB physical RAM
  • 50MB free disk space
  • Graphics Display: 640 x 480 with 256 colors; higher resolutions with millions of colors recommended


Features
Freeway is not an HTML editor, but an HTML generator, and thus you do not have to deal with writing any code. The principle is to develop web pages using the Freeway desktop publishing type editor, and Freeway will generate all of the HTML code and support resources that can be published and transferred to your target website.

You can create Master pages with Freeway that can have a certain background, text styles, or other design that will be shared by one or more of the published pages. You can have multiple Masters, and any Master for that site can be applied to any of the other pages. If you edit the Master, the associated pages will reflect those changes, so you only have to edit in one place for shared designs.

You can drag and drop graphics, text, movies, and sounds onto your page from other applications. The files do not need to be converted or resized before dragging them in. Images can be resized, cropped, rotated, or overlapped as you enter them into your design. Web-friendly GIF, JPEG, or PNG graphics are created from your original images when you publish your site.

You can create a graphical version of any font in any size or color with full desktop publishing control. A GIF or JPEG image of the text will be created upon publishing and the text remains editable in Freeway for future modifications.

Freeway allows you to create rollovers and other JavaScript effects without writing code. A rollover is the changing of a graphic image when your mouse pointer passes over it.

An integrated FTP upload facility allows you to send your published pages directly to your web site storage location from within the Freeway application.

User Interface
At first, I had problems understanding what to do with the tools on the Tools pallet. If you are familiar with desktop publishing programs, they may make immediate sense to you. After a little playing and looking at the documentation, I quickly picked up on what the tools did and the process of creating web pages. I would like to see larger icons on the Tools pallet. Linking between pages was easy once I discovered all you had to do was highlight the linking text or graphic, then click on the small World icon at the bottom of the window and select to page you want to go to.

Usability
This review was done under OS X, but Freeway is also supposed to run under OS 9. I did not have the opportunity to review the software under OS 9. Under OS X, most things worked as expected and the application was extremely stable. One area that did not work right was the Preview mode. It worked fine using Internet Explorer, but would not work with Safari or Netscape 7.1. The browser would launch, but the web page would not load. However, the published HTML looked fine when opened from within each of the browsers. There were also a few cosmetic defects, such as the text cropped on dialog box buttons.

I tried to import an existing set of web pages into Freeway, which resulted in the graphics looking decent, but the text was either too small or missing. To get the desired look, the pages would have to be edited or recreated.

Compatibility
The following formats and styles are supported under Freeway:

Graphic Import Formats

    • Raster Graphics - BMP, GIF, JPEG, Photoshop, PICT, PNG, and TIFF
    • Vector Graphics - Illustrator AI, PDF, PICT
    • Rich Media - AAC, AIFF, Flash SWF, MP3, RealMedia, Shockwave, QuickTime, WAV


Graphic Export Formats

    • GIF, JPEG, and PNG


HTML Output Styles

    • HTML 4 - Create either table-based or pure CSS-positioning pages
    • HTML 3.2 + CSS - Use CSS text styles without breaking older browsers
    • HTML 3.2 - For compatibility with older browsers


Support
The Freeway User Guide PDF file is included on the CD, and is a very complete 427-page document. Also included is the Getting to Know Freeway guide that covers getting started, the basics, and a tutorial.

The Help menu will launch your default web browser and presents a complete reference.

Updates and other documentation can be obtained from the Softpress website at
http://www.softpress.com.

Summary
I found Freeway to be an excellent WYSIWYG web page editor, fun to use and very stable. The user interface is relatively intuitive once you understand the basic concepts. The application is very feature-rich for website creation. If you want to create professional looking and functioning websites, and do not care to learn HTML coding, Freeway is the perfect program for you.

Pros

  • Works with Mac OS 9 and OS X
  • Easy to use
  • Solid performance
  • Imports popular graphics formats
  • User Guide and Getting to Know Freeway Guide included


Cons

  • Import of existing HTML is not perfect
  • Could not get Preview function to work with Safari and Netscape 7.1
  • Tools pallete icons are too small


Overall Rating

4 out of 5 Mice