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HoTMetaL Pro 5.0
reviewed by Donald Melanson

Until recently, HTML editors have, for the most part, garnered a bad reputation, at least from experienced web designers. This has usually bee justified because, at the time, most of the editors simply couldn't do everything that can be done writing code by hand, or more likely, didn't do it as well. Well, things have changed considerably since then with more and more web designers switching to products like Macromedia Dreamweaver. However, HTML editors like these often cost hundreds of dollars and are out of the reach of the average user.

HoTMetaL Pro 5.0 screenshotHoTMetaL Pro 5.0 is not a replacement for these editors, but at $99 compared to Dreamweaver's $299 it's delivers more for the money for the average user, or even the cost conscious experienced user. Think of it as a Paint Shop Pro compared to Dreamweaver's near-Photoshop status.

The last version of HoTMetaL I used was version 3 so I obviously noticed a huge improvement, particularly in the interface, which is completely configurable. Tasks that once took three or four mouse clicks are now usually done with one or two at the most. Changing code for the likes of background and text color, or table properties are now immediately accessible through a tool called the attribute inspector, which automatically changes to suit the code the cursor is in.

Another useful feature is the resource manager, which as the name implies, manages all your resources. In the resource manager you are able to a number of things that greatly ease the creation of large websites, particularly ones with lots of images (thanks to the built-in thumbnail view). It essentially eliminates the need to switch between HoTMetaL and the desktop since all the files from an individual project, and all your drives are readily available from within the program.

The drawback to having all of this in front of you all the time is that you'll need to have lots of screen real estate or they won't be of much use to you. I'm running it full screen at 1600x1200 on a 19" monitor which I find to be the ideal setting, 1280x1024 works fine as well but anything less and things begin to get squished. Alternatively, it looks like HoTMetaL could be an idea candidate to show off a multi-monitor setup. That is not to say it's completely useless if you can't meet these settings , just that you'll have switch between tools and resize more often.

HoTMetaL's publishing feature is one that is sure to be appreciated by users managing large sites. With it users are able to publish an entire site with the click of a button or only upload newly changed pages. This can also be done to one or multiple servers.

There are many more features that I have not mentioned in this review, some that many users might not find all that useful while others will wonder what they ever did without them. If you're a die-hard Dreamweaver user who has already shelled out the dough for it, HoTMetaL probably won't offer much incentive to convert. On the other hand, if you're an average or experienced user on a budget, HoTMetaL Pro 5.0 is definitely worth considering. It might even win over a few Notepad users, if for no other reason than the extremely clean code it produces. Take a look at this page's source code to get an idea.

[Editor's Note: A patch has been released for HoTMetaL Pro 5.0 since this review, download it here.]

b i o
Donald Melanson is the editor of Mindjack Magazine and is constantly learning on the job.

System Requirements:
Windows 95/98/NT 4.0
Pentium Processor
16MB of available RAM
256 colors/SVGA display
640x480 resolution or higher
CD-ROM for installation

Reviewed On:
Windows 98
Pentium II 350MHz
64MB RAM
High Color (16 bit) @ 1600x1200 on 19" monitor

Download an eval version of HoTMetaL Pro 5.0

The writer of this article welcomes your comments: donald@mindjack.com