EXCLUSIVE: Adobe GoLive 5.0 review

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If you’re an Adobe GoLive 4 user, you’re probably familiar with its time-saving drag-&-drop DHTML and JavaScript actions, its floating box object (layers) and time-editor metaphor for easy creation of CSS-Layer animated objects and its precision HTML output. These features may have served you well, but when today’s world of professional Web development is highly emphasized on combining artistic and technical skills for output of ecommerce solutions, you probably feel left out in the cold. Adobe – to its credit – has tried to help, providing a free update to version 4.0.1 that included basic ASP coding support through the use of a Dynamic Link extension that linked content from any ODBC-compliant database, including Oracle, FileMaker Pro, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft Access). With the release of Adobe GoLive 5, the ecommerce aspect of the tool is taken even further by making the Dynamic Link extension an integral part of the package. Using Dynamic Link, you design a front-end template and – with just one click of the mouse – you’re able to link the template with your database and retrieve a preview of your database content. The entire ASP code (in VBScript) is written for you. Unlik, Macromedia Dreamweaver UltraDev – which supports ASP, JSP and ColdFusion – GoLive 5 only supports ASP. New to version 5 is a some more advanced ecommerce and server-side features such as the ability to design, prototype and implement an online store or shopping cart system, order confirmation page and Web-based front end that is dynamically linked to fields in the content database source. It will also automatically connect all the pages with ready-made Action pages, each containing the necessary code and mechanisms to ensure proper compatibility with the ecommerce server. New features for the built-in Dynamic Link Module let you create navigation buttons such as next, previous, first, last and the ability to specify your own key fields for passing information between pages and automatically display of a password dialog box for password-protected databases. Obviously, you won’t be creating ecommerce masterpieces using these functionalities alone, but it can simplify things, letting you concentrate on the more creative bits of creating a dynamic site. Also introduced is a revamped site planner, builder and management tool – letting you conceptualize your site’s flow and layout. Web developers and designers using GoLive 5 in a team can collaborate with one another on site design and development through the use of GoLive’s WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning) server access features. Allowing them to preview and stage sites in a development area of the server, locking and unlocking files to avoid simultaneous work on a document, before moving them to a live server. Support for more common technologies such as Cascading Style sheets (CSS 2), Flash, QuickTime Streaming, Real Networks G2 are all there but what impresses the most is the plug-in support for the new Scalable Vector Format (SVG). GoLive 5’s user interface boasts the familiar icon-based context-sensitive toolbar, the inspector, several palettes, the document window and a site window, but a major change is the introduction of simultaneous layout and source code views – much like Dreamweaver’s WYSIWYG ‘Roundtrip HTML’ feature. Effectively it lets you view your design in Layout View while editing its code in the new source-code palette. Another source-code-related feature is the ‘360Code’ that lets you integrate any ‘foreign’ custom mark-up language (such as FileMaker or XML) into your pages without alteration. As Dreamweaver UltraDev and Fireworks 3 are tightly integrated to dynamically let you edit an image outside of Dreamweaver, Adobe GoLive 5 goes even further by linking with other Adobe products such as Photoshop 5, Illustrator 9 and even LiveMotion. It also brings highly flexible features such as Smart Objects, the ability to trace images and Photoshop layer support. Smart Objects let you edit and save files from its native applications and then have the copy open in GoLive automatically updated to reflect the edits. GoLive 5 even boasts a built-in Photoshop 5.5 Save For Web feature without needing to open Photoshop. The ability to use native PSD images means you don’t have to convert such files as a Web-safe format beforehand. The Photoshop layers feature lets you import Photoshop layered images so that each layer in the image is automatically converted to an appropriate Web-safe format of your choice. Best of all, these converted layers appears in GoLive 5 as separate floating boxes, which are stacked in as layers and become fully customisable between DIV tags. GoLive 5 boasts a new feature dubbed the On-brand Interactive Editor that is a killer tool if you work with streaming media on the Web. This feature lets drag-&-drop any QuickTime object or Flash file and place it in a QuickTime timeline and let them interact with one another. Best of all, you can even edit and lay soundtracks to your QuickTime 4 movies from within GoLive 5. Adobe GoLive 5 is a Web creation and site management powerhouse boasting astounding features, to suit small to medium development environments. Creative designers just getting into data-driven sites will find it easy to use and the several drag-&-drop actions can really save lots of time behind thick JavaScript/DHTML reference books. The more technical Web developer may find its ability to only code ASP driven sites as a great disadvantage. Opting for the more versatile Dreamweaver UltraDev. But may quick revisit GoLive 5 for its remarkably stable table design, site planning and management environment that seem to fall far beyond the capabilities of Dreamweaver UltraDev.

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