Although some Web authors have settled down happily with programs like BBEdit, PageSpinner, and PageMill, others are still seeking the Holy Grail of the perfect Web authoring program. Golive 1.0.1, a $49 program from gonet, isn't at Holy Grail level, but it's worth a look, especially for those who like the WYSIWYG approach of PageMill, but want a broader range of features.
Golive isn't for folks using older Macintoshes. It requires a 68040- or PowerPC-based Mac running System 7.5 or later. Although golive will run in 4 MB on a 68K Macintosh and in 5 MB on a Power Mac, gonet recommends that you run it with an 8 MB RAM allocation. You also need at least a 4-bit grayscale or 8-bit color monitor.
Editing mavens may be wondering about the capitalization of gonet and golive - they're meant to be all lowercase. In both cases, I've chosen to capitalize them when they begin sentences. Gonet spells golive with a blue "go" and yellow "live," and repeats these shades throughout golive's toolbars, palettes, icons, and dialog boxes.
A Pretty Face -- Golive's interface invites you to settle down for a pleasant authoring session in a calm, appropriately colorful, and well-organized environment. The toolbar is one of the best I've seen - the buttons are grouped by function with plenty of space between groups, and they use color sparingly. You can leave the toolbar at the upper left of the screen or drag it to any location. The dialog boxes are well-formed, with clearly labeled controls. The interface will make friends due to its lack of quirks that require banging your head against a wall or careful manual reading to figure out.
Smarts Under the Hood -- Golive is completely WYSIWYG and geared toward Netscape 2.0. The documentation explains this in an up-front manner and recommends that you test your pages in other browsers to make sure they look okay. Given that single-minded design decision, in my testing, golive did an good job in implementing Netscape 2.0 HTML, and golive supports a great number of the tags supported by Netscape 2.0, including font colors and sizes as well as custom horizontal rules. Notable failures include no table support, and some unpredictability in creating entities for high-ASCII characters, though golive does convert such characters far more often than not.
If you open an existing HTML document into golive, golive will alter its tags. I experienced particular troubles with <P> and <BR> tags being added and eliminated in undesired ways, and I saw cases where golive didn't import the same document in the same way twice. Golive also ignored the last ten lines at the end of a relatively short document. The program appears to be careful with table tags; in my testing, it not only did a good job with importing them intact, it also formatted them as "Pure HTML" and displayed them as red text. You can type HTML tags directly into golive and format those tags as Pure HTML, though golive offers no macro or glossary functions for speeding the insertion of such tags.
If Netscape frames are your thing, you'll find golive's implementation usable, though it takes a little experimenting to understand that golive displays two versions of a page - one that will appear in browsers showing frames and one that will display in browsers not showing frames. Golive also features extensive support for creating form interfaces, though not for creating form CGIs or for testing forms to see what names and values would be sent to a CGI if the form were filled out in a particular way. Golive supports only one form per Web page. Golive does a nice job with helping you create the <APPLET> and <EMBED> tags for Java applets and plug-ins. It specifically helps create the attributes for QuickTime, QuickDraw 3D, and Shockwave plug-ins and with generic plug-in support.
You can hook golive to one Web browser and use that browser to preview your work as it will appear on the Web. You must set up a preferred browser by hand; golive doesn't support Internet Config.
When it comes to text editing, golive has little to offer except for a reasonably intelligent Find feature. When it comes to site editing, golive offers a Project window, though its features are limited. The Project window helps you identify relative links errors and gain an overview of what files are used in a site, but it doesn't automatically display files saved from golive; instead you must drag them in from the Finder. Likewise, external links don't appear automatically; instead, you must add them by hand. You cannot use the Project window to repair damaged links.
Another quibble with golive is that it uses a default font of Times 12-point. Golive should let the user set the default font - many people cannot work in Times 12-point for long without experiencing eye fatigue.
Graphics and Image Maps -- Golive imports PICT, GIF, or JPEG images, and it displays them in your document as they will appear on the Web. Gonet hasn't quite worked out the ALIGN=LEFT and ALIGN=RIGHT options for graphics, and graphics using these options don't display correctly in golive, though they do display correctly in Netscape and should display correctly in golive 1.1. You cannot change the shape or size of imported images or edit them. Once you've imported an image, you can store it in golive's Gallery, which works much like the Mac's Scrapbook.
Golive sports a nice environment for creating image maps (NCSA or CERN), complete with options to help you better see what you are doing. You can optionally reduce or enlarge your view of an image while you work with it; view differently mapped areas with differently colored, translucent overlays; and show link URLs on top of their corresponding mapped areas.
Wrap-Up -- Golive is a fairly good program for novice and amateur Web authors who have no intention of learning HTML and don't wish to use golive's higher end features, like frames and plug-ins. Golive's clearly written documentation gets you started nicely, but assumes - particularly with the higher end tags - that you know how they work behind the scenes. If you didn't know HTML, I think you'd find setting up options like frames and plug-ins frustrating, if not impossible. According to gonet's technical support, golive 1.1 will ship with a more detailed manual.
Golive is a good choice for experienced and professional Web authors who need to mock-up layouts, especially if they are designing primarily for Netscape users and can create tables in a different tool. To some degree, complete, professional Web pages can be created in golive. Given the choice of PageMill 1.x or golive 1.0.1, I'd recommend golive. Neither program supports tables, but golive's interface is much nicer to use and look at, and it offers a wider range of tagging options.
Gonet plans to ship version 1.1 of golive in just a few weeks, and that new version will fix a few bugs and possibly add a few minor features. In the meantime, you can check out a two-week demo version of 1.0.1, which is available from gonet's Web site. The demo download comes in around 2-3 MB, depending on whether you download the 68K, PowerPC, or fat version.