Web design software
Throughout the ebb and flow of the Web design rivalry between Adobe GoLive and Macromedia Dreamweaver, the one constant has been Dreamweaver's lead in high-end site management features. Adobe clearly relishes a challenge, however, and, judging by this release, GoLive 6.0 will take the program into Dreamweaver territory and in many ways reverse the balance of power.
GoLive's fresh approach is signalled from the outset by a new site management wizard, but its intentions are fully confirmed by one stunning new addition to the program: the Web Workgroup Server.
The Workgroup Server, part of Adobe's network publishing initiative, is a separate application that manages your site's digital assets on a local server. Among other features, it supports both revisions and versioning, which means you can easily trace the editing process, viewing different editions of files - in any markup language - side by side.
The ability to track site items and rewind if necessary to previous versions of a file will prove a godsend. Administrators will also appreciate the ability to take site snapshots and perform site maintenance via synchronisation.
Of more long-term significance will be the ability of all Adobe products - from InDesign to Photoshop 7.0 - to make use of the same asset management tool. In mixed print and Web design spheres - which make up a large proportion of the Web design market - this is as near to a killer feature as you'll get.
GoLive 6.0 also marks the Web design debut of another impressive cross-media feature: Smart Object variables. These allow you to attach variables, stored either in a script or a central database, to objects contained in a page. An obvious use is the ability to dynamically update prices in a Web catalogue without touching a page's source code, but the concept extends beyond text objects - links, styles and even object visibility can all be changed on the fly.
Smart Object variables also crop up in other Adobe applications, providing further evidence of the company's clever leveraging of its position in the design field. Further examples here include the ability to import sliced images directly from Illustrator, and support for Photoshop vector layers. Creators of dynamic sites will applaud belated native support for PHP and JSP scripting languages, although it's arguable whether hardened coders will be impressed enough to wrench themselves away from their favourite text editor. Still, it's a big step in the right direction.
GoLive 6.0 also makes it much easier to design for wireless devices. Support for WAP 2.0 HTML and WML is built in and you can preview wireless content directly in a GoLive window.
Not everything in this new version is a success, however: Adobe makes much of a diagramming tool that allows you to construct an overview of your site and export it to PDF format, but it looks a little underpowered. Even so, most of the small changes - including better table handling and the ability to easily customise page layout - are all the more welcome for their unobtrusiveness.
GoLive's progress from a simple layout package to powerful Web development environment has been remarkably smooth. The only penalty to be paid - a growing army of tabbed palettes and lengthy menu options - is offset by usability pluses: dragging any palette tab to the edge of the screen automatically minimises it, and you can now create and store a personalised GoLive workspace.
Adobe GoLive 6.0 ***1/2
The addition of server software will increase GoLive's appeal in mixed-media production environments.
Price: $1049; $1169 bundled with LiveMotion 2.0.
Phone: 1300 550 205.