SoftQuad HoTMetaL Pro 6.0
reviewed by Donald Melanson
I have been a HoTMetaL user for quite some time
now, so naturally when version 6 was announced I was anxious to get my hands on
it. After praising version 5 as much as I
did, I was a little unsure how much the software could be improved, especially
considering what seemed to be a relatively short time between the digit jump.
But I was pleasantly surprised to find many new features, most of which are
great additions or improvements.
One of the most notable new
features is the advanced site management, including remote file editing.
Previously, the publishing was relatively limited but very easy to use. It is
now considerably more complicated, and it took a while for me to adjust to it.
While many people will probably find the new system useful, I don't believe the
added benefits make up for the increased complexity. At least a choice between
the old and new publishing systems would have been nice. I've had to resort to
the separate FTP client included (WS_FTP Pro) a number of times when I needed
to get something online fast, something I didn't have to do with version 5.
That aside, the rest of the additions are great
improvements. One of the most useful is the new Color Chooser, which makes it
easy to select browser-safe colors. Why this wasn't always included before is
beyond me. While browser-safe colors may not be quite as important as they used
to be, I personally think it's wise to stick to them if at all possible.
Most important is that the overall ease of use
and advanced feature set that made version 5 so good is just as good here in
version 6.0, making HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 and excellent choice whether you're work
on small or large-scale projects. The interface is completely customizable and
should suit both experts and those relatively new to web design. Complete
novices however, should look elsewhere.
There are some tools that I think could be
incorporated to make some small tasks easier. A fill-in-the-blanks META tag
generator, for example, would be a great feature that should be a no-brainer to
include. And a simple 2D flowchart alternative to the fancy 3D Web View, which
looks impressive but I haven't found it to be all that useful in practice (it
doesn't display folders for starters).
HoTMetaL Pro is increasingly becoming a serious
option for professional web designers, but it does still have some ways to go
before being on the level of Macromedia's Dreamweaver. Dreamweaver is also sure
to remain the standard for the many Mac web designers as SoftQuad currently
also has no plans for a Macintosh version of HoTMetaL. But at a list price of
$129, HoTMetaL is still the best deal around for Wintel users that don't need
everything Dreamweaver offers.
One final thing I'd like to suggest is to drop
the mixed caps. Simply Hotmetal works for me.
Donald Melanson is the editor-in-chief of
Mindjack Magazine. He welcomes your comments on this review, or the magazine in