GoLive CS 2, by Adobe
Posted: 22-Feb-2006

4 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Adobe Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Judd Spitzer Class: PRODUCTIVITY

Overview
Webmasters, Webmistresses, and other Internet Junkies... you've finally dumped the idea of designing with TextWrangler or BBEdit, and you're ready to use a highly developed webdesign tool. So what do you do? Do you look for a canned design tool, or do you get the premiere software package? That's where GoLive CS2 comes in; GoLive is the Adobe Creative Suite 2 (CS2) tool designed to help creative types like yourself to put together a fantastic website.

Adobe is well known for its software designed to create brilliant looking off-line content, but GoLive is one of those products that is designed to help fill the void between paper and the web. While many web designers will tell you that they have their favorite web design software, most will agree that the ability to get a site up and running quickly and easily is their goal. Adobe GoLive CS2 is a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) HTML editor that targets mostly professional web-designers; however, anyone can take advantage of the power GoLive CS2.

Web design... What should you know?
There is a lot of work out there in the HTML design world, and Adobe brings a very mature software package into the fold in CS2. In my approach to webdesign, I think of a few different things that lay the ground work for me.

First, is the software intuitive? When I start up this program, will I be successful out of the box? GoLive is designed to assure anyone who can use a page layout program (like Pagemaker) is able to create smooth and simple websites. But comparing GoLive to a page layout program is like comparing a word processor to a database. GoLive offers much more than a mere page layout program as we will see.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML)
From a web design aspect, you should be aware of enabling technologies that help bring a website to life. The basic foundation is HTML, and GoLive CS2, just like many other web design software packages, provides a strong WYSIWYG interface. In some ways it is like word processors that are creating Rich Text Format behind the scenes; that is, once you get started, the codes are hidden away until you're ready to upload your pages.


GoLive quick sample of WYSIWYG page


With WYSIWYG, you just drop your elements into the page and type just as you would with a word processor. Additionally, if need be, you can edit the code in the HTML Editor, or preview the page in your favorite browser.


HTML Editor - Here you can hack code to your hearts content.


Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)
CSS has become the rage for web designers. It takes much of the effort out of the redesign of pages, since much of the formatting can be placed in separate files that can apply to an entire website. So for instance, you wanted the font changed from Times New Roman to Arial, you could just update your CSS file, and your entire website would reflect the change. All modern browsers are equipped to handle CSS and plug the HTML into a layout that has been "pre-designed". GoLive CS2 makes modest improvements in the handling of CSS. Most noteworthy is its ability to take HTML and CSS developed elsewhere and render it properly for editing within GoLive CS2.
One thing that is missing is a CSS preset pallet that allows for "One-Click" CSS updating.


GoLive CSS Templates

Interface
GoLive uses a drag and drop model for all page development. While you can code HTML or whatever you'd like directly into the editor, this style of page building is as easy as it comes. Basically all the building blocks that are available are laid out in floating pallets on your screen, and then you drop those elements into the page and lay them out in the way you would like your page to look. Just for comparison, Dreamweaver, considered by many to be the direct competition, uses more of a word processor interface with a toolbar across the top of the screen.

GoLive includes the standard tool palette that Adobe users are accustomed to in all the CS products, and objects also have a handy inspector window that is used for viewing and editing details on a specific object (such as an image, link, etc.).


GoLive Inspector palette


Advanced Technologies
For the advanced programmer/designer, Adobe's GoLive CS2 enables you to create some nice dynamic web sites... as long as you have a server with permissions to work your magic. Adding Java or other items is as easy as drag and drop. What Adobe has done is create objects that can be dropped directly into the website, and then you put the code inside the object. While GoLive CS2 isn't going to write the Java or anything else for you, it makes it easy for you to know where it goes once you have put the objects out in the workspace. If you have access to a server, then you can much more easily test out your scripts and PHP.

So what about dynamic content? While there is a selection for PHP pages, there just simply isn't support to help you test out and properly edit PHP/MySQL style pages. For many, this is a very important aspect of webdesign, and anything that can make that easier is much appreciated. GoLive concentrates much more effort on implementing Java and Javascript elements into the webdesign. This is still territory for skilled programmers rather than basic webdesigners. The bottom line is that this is a design tool, not a programming tool.


GoLive Site Management

GoLive provides an interface for managing your website both online at a server and on your local drive. You can use this handy window to upload your PHP or Java-enabled code to your server for testing/publishing.

Collaborative Projects
GoLive CS2 uses VersionCue CS2 (another part of the CS2 package) as a collaborative work tool for designing web-pages that are managed by multiple people. This tool enables a team to develop individual parts of a website without losing track of changes, and previous versions of the website prior to publishing. This version control process is scalable for one person or to accommodate much more. VersionCue is important for a group where one person is responsible for integrating your website, however multiple people are responsible for the content. Having version control enables a group of people to provide their input to the "editor" and have released versions published live on the network.

Other Features
So how easy is it to design a website with GoLive? A basic webpage is fairly easy to generate. You can drag and drop some elements into a sheet and before you know it, you have something worthy of publishing to the World Wide Web. GoLive comes with a variety of templates, both for a complete site, or for various aspects of a site, such as CSS, Tables, Blogs and Scripting. However, the templates that are provided did not impress me. If you need some help or ideas, there are better examples and template out on the net. The way GoLive provides access to the templates is very convenient, so it would be nice if Adobe could incorporate some better templates.


GoLive Site Templates

There are 3 basic design modes: Layout mode (the WYSIWYG editor), two preview modes, and a source code mode. When you design your page, you should still check out your page in your favorite browser to validate that it's showing up the way you want. Different browsers on different platforms all have slightly different behaviors. For maximum portability, you should try several different browsers.

There are lots of new tools to help design blog pages, such as support for Movable Type and TypePad. These are services provided to help people publish their own web logs (blogs). This offers specific code that can be dropped into your page to support the special requirements of these blogging programs, so that your pages are customized to fully utilize the power of the software.

So you've designed this hot website, but until it's published, its merely HTML on your computer. GoLive has a strong built-in FTP manager for uploading websites to help you get your site uploaded and tested from it's final destination. You don't have to know what files you've already updated on the server. GoLive does this automatically for you. You don't have to fuss with FTP clients. Will you need to configure for passive FTP or do you want to do secure FTP? GoLive figures it out for you.

Another interesting feature is the ability to import from InDesign CS2. InDesign is a program used to create newsletters and other Paper-Based content. The concept of design once and publish everywhere is a great idea. So now I can simply design my newsletter then publish it as a webpage. My only thought is that designing for the web and designing for paper/pdf are two completely separate things. This is really a concept that Adobe has been trying to merge, with little success. Flash enabled websites and more dynamic content has really been the ruler of the web.

GoLive CS2 enhances an already strong lineup of Adobe design software. It will no doubt be interesting to see what software will win out between Dreamweaver, a recent acquisition via Macromedia, and GoLive CS2.

Finally, will GoLive make me a superstar? There are three basic styles of websites: content driven, glitz driven, and both (Technology and Content together). GoLive will help you bring both aspects to your website, if you are diligent and employ the features that are built-in to the software such as CSS, dynamic HTML and other web-based features. What it won't do is design your site for you. You need to bring the content and the creative design capability to the table. Think of it this way: You're an ice sculpture artist and you have a nice block of ice. Some ice carving kits come with 2 or three tools, and others come with a cornucopia of tools. Some tools you've never seen, and some you may never use, but just having them gives you confidence. Now the tools themselves won't create a masterpiece, but having the right tools when the inspiration hits is key.

Summary
Adobe GoLive CS2 is a powerful WYSIWYG HTML editor designed for professional web designers, yet easy enough to use by the hobbyist. GoLive has a very strong collaborative design element using VersionCue. VersionCue allows different groups, such as an art department, a programming department, and a web design group to all have input into the final product without losing control of the entire project. Note, however, that VersionCue is a separate application, so you would need to either purchase it separately, or obtain both GoLive and VersionCue as part of the entire CS2 package. While GoLive's tools are extensive and useful in designing big web sites over time, it's interface could be improved for helping to design websites more easily and more quickly. GoLive does include a number of templates to help you get started, but I found the templates to be lackluster. GoLive provides some phenomenal support for several technologies, including CSS. Beginners may be a bit overwhelmed by the amount of options provided in GoLive, but for anyone looking to do some serious web site design, GoLive is an excellent tool providing powerful features, excellent site management, and good support for new web technologies.

Pros

  • Great interface with other CS2 applications such as InDesign and VersionCue
  • Easy to use elements supporting blogging, using TypePad and Movable Type
  • Enhanced editing of CSS
  • Good site management of static files

Cons

  • Lack of large library of robust templates
  • PHP support requires server support for testing
  • Beginners can become overwhelmed by the options, and lack of "cookie cutter material"


Overall Rating:

4 out of 5 Mice