HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 and HotDog Junior

HoTMetaL Pro 6.0

In the past, HTML editors were usually just variations on standard editors with special commands for specific HTML tags. While HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 still allows this basic-level editing for those who like getting their hands "dirty" with code, a full WYSIWYG editor now lets you create Web pages in a full visual drag-and-drop mode similar to much more expensive packages such as Adobe GoLive. There is also a third editor called Tags On that lets you create in an editor but displays the output in a WYSIWYG window. This gives the best of both worlds.

If you are just starting out with Web authoring, HoTMetaL Pro is a good choice, as it comes with a bundle of tutorials including training tools on HTML, JavaScript and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). In addition, a built-in HTML validator will automatically flag code errors as you create a site. And speaking of sites, the SiteMaker wizard can automatically build entire sites based on user-defined templates.

A nice touch is the in-built ability to create graphics, drop-shadows and buttons on the fly without the need to go to a third-party package.

Despite its modest $169 price tag, HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 is fully featured with database publishing capability as well as support for DHTML and CSS, plus all the standard multimedia objects such as Flash, QuickTime, ActiveX and so on. And, included in the price tag is a bundle of third-party applications such as WS-FTP Pro 6.0, PhotoImpact SE, clip art, backgrounds, animations and dynamic HTML scripts, making it exceptional value for money.

HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 is a worthy successor to previous versions and is well worth a look - not just for beginners to HTML, but experienced hands as well. - David HagueHoTMetaL Pro 6.0Price: $169 Distributor: SustancePhone: (08) 8234 6298URL: JuniorAustralia's own Sausage Software has long been known around the world for its well-regarded Web authoring tool HotDog. Now the company's Internet Tools division has expanded its line of programs to include HotDog Junior, a $69.95 Web authoring tool aimed at school-aged children (or technology-challenged adults). The brief, according to Rob Oliphant, general manager of Sausage Internet Tools, was to create an absolute entry-level and foolproof program. To this end, Sausage has been successful.

For starters, HotDog Junior limits the number of page elements available to seven: graphics, paragraphs, headings, sounds, lines, and mail-to and URL links. You will notice two glaring omissions - tables and frames - the former useful (but complex to a beginner), the latter accepted with mixed emotions anyway.

HotDog Junior features a clever four-step interface starring "Junior" the dog, who helps users along the way with how-to tips.

Step one, start a new blank Web page or select one of nine templates with themes like family, birthdays, racing cars and for the girls "Pretty in Pink". Step two utilises a drag-and-drop interface with "Web blocks" representing each page element. You can swap customised Web blocks around in your design or discard them in HotDog Junior's "Buzz saw". This cute animation, like the program's doggy sound effects, adds a little fun to the whole process.

You won't preview your page until step three. If you're happy with the look, you can proceed to step four, which allows you to upload the page and its associated files to your ISP's Web server. This is a very simple and seamless process, and does not require a separate FTP tool.

To make the program even more foolproof, Sausage has given HotDog Junior a special .hde file extension, which means that until the Web pages are uploaded to a server (as HTML files), they cannot be manip-ulated by hand coding outside of the program. "This is a low-tech way of preventing people from getting in there and changing things by hand," explains Sausage's Oliphant. An HTML editor is, however, incorporated at the third step (though reverting to the second step will mean all changes are lost).

HotDog Junior offers a clever solution for kids wanting to build Web pages and features more value with a bundled CD-ROM containing 50,000 clip art images. - Molly FurzerHotDog JuniorPrice: $69.95 Distributor: 313 DistributionPhone: (02) 9900 5360URL:

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