- Improved graphical site prototyping
- Database and workgroup-server software and support
- Some oddities in previous releases fixed
- Some longtime leftover interface quirks
- Complex database-integration setup with poor documentation
It used to be that Adobe GoLive was a strong second to Macromedia Dreamweaver — it was a prettier way to hand-code Web pages. But with version 6.0, GoLive has matured from a program with strong potential but a somewhat incomplete feature set into a powerhouse server suite and workgroup-integration tool that validates HTML code and lets you serve database content relatively easily — and does it all at a nice price.
Like Adobe’s other recently released products, GoLive 6.0 works natively in both OS 9 and OS X, and it requires only a single installation. GoLive 6.0 running in OS X is not much faster than GoLive 5.0 running in OS 9, and GoLive 6.0 runs slightly slower in OS X than in OS 9 on the same machine. But this version is very reliable in OS X, especially compared with GoLive 5.0’s sometimes flaky performance in OS 9.
Showing Its Face
Although Adobe has brought GoLive to OS X, it has left the interface almost untouched. GoLive 6.0 does have more palettes, which offer more contextual settings and advice for users, but you’ll still find vestiges of old interface quirks. To preview the contents of frames, for example, you have to click on a VCR-style display with square buttons that control stopping and playing. Nothing else in the program looks like this, and there’s no good reason to confuse users with an inconsistent approach.
One Page at a Time
As it has since its inception, GoLive lets you build a page by dragging graphical elements (which are categorized by type — basic, forms, head, frames, and so on) from the Objects palette or by typing directly on a page. GoLive 6.0’s page-design features have been only incrementally improved.
One notable improvement is version 6.0’s updated Tables palette, which displays exact pixel dimensions; in previous versions, you had to examine each cell in a row and add padding and spacing to create an absolute pixel measurement for a table’s width.
Are You Good HTML or Bad HTML?
A major complaint in our review of GoLive 5.0 (mmmm; Reviews, December 2000) concerned the program’s inability to write pages that passed the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) validation test, which checks for well-written HTML that browsers can interpret without a hitch. Since that review, Adobe has revamped both the writing and checking of code in GoLive. An expanded Syntax Checker lets you check a page’s code against several major standards, and it produces a clickable report of errors.
Powerful Site Maps
One of GoLive’s strengths is site organization and maintenance. The program organizes a site’s pages and media files into a graphical site window, and dragging files into or out of folders that correspond to the pages rewrites all the links to them and within them. A variety of site features extend this approach: an Errors tab that shows problems with site links and missing files; FTP and WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) tabs for incremental or full site synchronization with remote servers; and an Extras tab containing two kinds of templates, one with locked areas and one that’s fully editable.
The Design feature, redubbed Diagrams in version 6.0, was one of GoLive 5.0’s most helpful. It let you use a large grid to prototype new sites, or parts of existing sites, by creating relationships between icon representations of the site’s parts. The Diagrams feature includes custom icons representing different file types, as well as more-sophisticated output controls that let you turn your prototypes into clickable PDF and SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) files that can be opened in Web browsers.
All Together Now
It may be hard to get excited about file transfers, but the implementation of WebDAV will make you jump for joy. WebDAV not only lets you check your files in and out of a server, but also exchanges information about the files. The power here is that a server can coordinate many users editing the same files, as well as track revisions of files over time.
GoLive 6.0 continues to expand upon the miracle of WebDAV by including the Adobe Web Workgroup Server (AWWS), which allows a group of users (or even an individual) to store all the files associated with a GoLive site on a server and check them in and out for editing. And not just Adobe software is compatible with the AWWS — other WebDAV-enabled software, such as Goliath and Dreamweaver 4, can access it too.
GoLive 6.0 also brings intraprogram connections to a whole new plane by supporting Adobe’s latest technology: Variables. Variables let you set particular layers, objects, or text in Illustrator 10, Photoshop 7.0, and LiveMotion 2.0, so that GoLive can modify them.
Let’s say you have a catalog of 500 widgets, with part numbers, pictures, descriptions, and prices. GoLive lets you take database content and, using a graphical tool that creates templates for these various widget fields, feed it to your Web site. To do this, Adobe dramatically improved GoLive 5.0’s Dynamic Link technology, which attempted to replicate Macromedia’s UltraDev database features. Now called Dynamic Content, with icons as placeholders for database content, it lets any designer or Web producer build dynamic pages, but the overly complex initial setup and poor documentation don’t make this as easy as it should be.
Adobe includes an excellent extra to help jump-start database use: a package called GoLive Preconfigured Servers, which includes the Apache Web server already set up to work with PHP; the Tomcat JSP server; and the MySQL database server. Granted, this software is all available separately — for free — from open-source developers, but Adobe is supplying it already configured in a single package that installs in Mac OS X 10.1 or Windows XP and 2000. It’s hard to beat a product that’s both free and well put together.
GoLive comes with 90 days of tech support activated by the first call — not enough given the difficulty of this program but similar to what competitors offer. When the 90-day period runs out, the Web-based Adobe Forums offer limited, free technical support through posted messages; other users often answer questions, and Adobe personnel frequently respond within minutes.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
With version 6.0, this former challenger to incumbent Dreamweaver 4 is now a near equal, and we’ll have to wait and see how it stacks up against the nearly ready Dreamweaver MX. GoLive’s database-integration support alone is worth the price of the program, and the powerful Adobe Web Workgroup Server makes GoLive suitable for workgroups.