Adobe GoLive 5.0

By John Goddard

On the Internet, an error in your business site is as embarrassing as waltzing around all day with your fly open. Jeez, you think, how the heck did that happen? If you find such slipups happening all too often, try equipping your Web production team with Adobe Systems Inc.’s GoLive 5.0 : You might keep those surprises in check and your online credibility intact.

This $472.07 edition delivers more than 100 new features for visualizing, designing, and analyzing Web site – that’s 100 new tools on top of an already extensive arsenal. But for those who can fathom the application’s intricacies, GoLive 5.0 is a marked improvement over the last version.

Once installed, GoLive 5.0 soaks up 60MB of hard drive space. The learning curve, while not impossible, is still precipitous, and comparable to that of competing professional-level products. New users without formal instruction may feel a sinking sensation, but users who are upgrading or are familiar with similar development packages can get up to speed fairly quickly by rummaging through the 462-page manual, the on-disk help, and the learning resources on Adobe’s site.

Getting to Know You

Beginning with version 4, GoLive adopted many of Adobe’s common interface traits, including toolbars and palettes, to make the program feel familiar to Photoshop, Illustrator, and LiveMotion users. Users weaned on rival products can easily modify GoLive’s keyboard shortcuts so that things work their way. As before, the upper-left corner of GoLive’s main work window sports five tabs that change the view from page layout to frames, source code, HTML outline, or a Web page preview. Now, however, you can split the view to work on source code and layout details at the same time–very helpful. And to keep GoLive’s workspace clutter to a minimum, you can hold down the Control key and click on palette title bars to snap them into tiny tabs along the right side of the screen.

Adobe-centric users should enjoy GoLive’s new Smart Objects, which link Photoshop, Illustrator (version 9 only), or LiveMotion source files to copies used in GoLive-created Web pages. Editing the original element updates the Web copy as well. Also new: A built-in Photoshop image-optimizing engine lets you preview four image versions at a time to see which one loads fast yet still looks unblemished. GoLive can now use multilayered Photoshop images to create a variety of Web objects, such as JavaScript actions, DHTML animations, or QuickTime sprites. Adobe has also updated GoLive’s built-in QuickTime editor with a more intuitive timeline that can include tracks for Flash (SWF) files. That’s good news for Web authors game on blending streaming media with interactive Flash elements.

To keep coding errors to a minimum, GoLive’s improved site analysis tools let you search for specific attributes and generate detailed reports, spotlighting download delays, errant links, and elusive coding glitches. New server support for Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) means your designers can’t mix up versions or overwrite each other’s work. And programming geeks will like the new 360Code attributes, in which “NoEdit” tags protect sensitive handwritten code–such as JavaScript, ASP, XMP, ColdFusion, or FileMaker–so that it can be imported into the application and survive the page-design phase intact.

For electronic-commerce environments, GoLive 5.0 easily links Web page objects to OBDC-compliant databases, such as those created by Microsoft Access, without inserting cryptic lines of code. Your Webmasters can still make sweeping changes by arranging icons on the Site Design diagram, only now GoLive can display several panes within the diagram window. For unwieldy sites, that’s a handy way to keep tabs on related assets such as pending links and scratch files.

We spotted a few minor shortcomings in GoLive 5.0, compared with its rival Macromedia Inc. Dreamweaver. For example, GoLive doesn’t display a thumbnail of the file you highlight in a folder, so locating the stuff you need inside folders crammed with cryptically named Web files will take you more time. We also wish that GoLive would let users designate (and launch) non-Adobe programs, such as Corel Photo-Paint or Jasc Paint Shop Pro.

Adobe’s LiveMotion, not the more widely used Macromedia Flash. At least GoLive users are no longer forced to add Flash files manually by writing their own code; instead, the application provides an icon representing a Flash animation, which you can drag onto the page; you then enter the link to the file in a palette.

GoLive’s new edit-listing History palette is a mixed blessing. The History palette–a common feature in many Adobe applications–keeps a running list of your every edit so that you can quickly undo (or redo) several editing steps with a click. It’s a handy feature, except for one irksome habit: GoLive wipes the History list clear each time you switch the workspace mode–say, from Source view to Frame view. In contrast, rival Dreamweaver offers a more flexible History palette that lets users undo or redo changes anytime, anywhere. Moreover, Dreamweaver users can automate tasks by storing a series of History steps as a custom command for reuse elsewhere–even on other documents. GoLive can’t do that, but (like Dreamweaver) it does allow users to save JavaScript actions that trigger Web page events, links, or timelines. In a nutshell: GoLive 5.0 feels less restrictive than prior versions did, but its History palette needs more depth.

Web Page Powerhouse

Despite those minor wrinkles, Adobe has delivered a significant upgrade to GoLive. Version 5.0’s enhanced scope of features will impress finicky designers, code geeks, and Webmasters alike. For synchronizing Web production tasks without major slipups, it’s a valuable Web authoring tool. To judge for yourself, download the trial version from Adobe’s site.