I've been slightly remiss in reporting on Web authoring stuff lately, so I want to mention a few noteworthy recent events and also share some of the information in Adobe's official announcement of PageMill 2.0.
Tables for BBEdit -- If you use BBEdit for Web authoring and wish to create tables, don't miss Stephen Marshall's $5 shareware BBEdit HTML Tables version 1.0.1, which brings rather good table-making abilities to BBEdit. Although the extension doesn't add a visual way to set up tables, it does facilitate typing table tags and it can also convert existing delimited text to tables.
PageSpinner -- Another recent shareware entry, the $25 PageSpinner by Optima System, is well worth a look, especially if you want to learn HTML in a friendly and reasonably robust environment. I've almost completed a review, but - because Optima System may update PageSpinner in the next week or so, I haven't finished.
PageMill 2.0 -- In the commercial arena, the big news is Adobe's announcement of PageMill 2.0, due to ship in July for both Macintosh and Windows, with similar feature sets in both versions, though the Windows version will sport a Windows interface. If all goes as planned, version 2.0 will fix many problems (see my review of PageMill 1.0 in TidBITS-305). In particular, the new version will support reasonably sophisticated tables within its WYSIWYG interface, including a toolbar button for quickly dragging out a table's dimensions.
Adobe has identified serious HTML geeks as an audience that - although perhaps not their largest - is certainly their most vocal, and they have eliminated a number of technical annoyances, such as the <BR> problem and much (though not all) of PageMill's tendency to rewrite existing HTML code, hopefully eliminating the problematic aspects of this behavior. The HTML exported by PageMill will also be more nicely formatted, making it easier to work with in a more powerful, text-based program, such as BBEdit or Nisus Writer.
If you purchase PageMill 1.0 on 22-Apr-96 or later, and register, you will be eligible for a free copy of PageMill 2.0.
3D Web Workshop -- Graphically oriented Web authors may be especially interested in Specular's announcement of 3D Web Workshop. Scheduled to ship on 15-May-96, 3D Web Workshop will integrate features available in Specular's existing products LogoMotion and TextureScape with PageMill (presumably version 1.0, initially). The integration will help Web authors create and use animated logos and backgrounds for both background tiling and coloring other Web-ready graphics. 3D Web Workshop will also include WebHands, a large collection of Web-ready graphics. 3D Web Workshop should retail for $399, though if you own PageMill you can purchase a light version for $249.
Internet Assistant -- Microsoft has released a public beta of Internet Assistant for Word 6 for Macintosh (the beta only works with the English language version of Word). Given that I don't have Word 6 installed, I'm unlikely to spend time with the beta. However, I did see a demo of a slightly pre-beta version of the product, and the Microsoft employees who demoed the product emphasized that they see it as a way to make Web pages within the Microsoft Office environment, making it most handy for people already familiar with Office. In the demo, Internet Assistant appeared to have a strong and reasonably well thought-out feature set.
What twisted round and round in my mind as I drove home from the demo, though, was not the fact that Microsoft appeared to have done quite a good job on Internet Assistant. Instead, I found myself thinking about the fact that - not surprisingly - Microsoft has integrated Internet Explorer extensions into the product and has done nothing to help users differentiate the currently uncommon Explorer extensions from more commonly used proper HTML tags and Netscape extensions. Although this makes it easier for Microsoft to pitch the value of their products to large sites running intranets (internal miniature Internets) and standardizing on Word 6 along with Internet Explorer, it only adds to end-user confusion about which HTML options are likely to work in which browsers. The fact the people who gave me the demo seemed far more excited about intranets than concerned about end user confusion on the Internet suggests to me that Microsoft doesn't yet fully understand what the Internet is all about.