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issue: 02/01/2000

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vCity 1.0
by Dr. Adam L. Gruen

20 days in the life of a 21st century virtual city simulation.

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A free 30-day evaluation version of HoTMetaL Pro 6.0 is available at

hotmetal pro 6

SoftQuad HoTMetaL Pro 6.0
for Windows

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.

hm6One 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 general.


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