Adobe GoLive 5.0 full review

The long wait for GoLive users is finally at an end. Adobe has just released the upgrade to its Web-design layout tool, and main competitor to Macromedia’s Dreamweaver.

Adobe boasts that there are over 100 new features in GoLive 5.0. I won’t be able to cover every one of them here, so I’ll concentrate on the biggest and most useful additions. GoLive should be straining at the seams to hold all these new features, but it’s not – it’s still a very neat piece of software.

Thankfully, this is not just a catch-up upgrade from version 4.0, although GoLive 5.0 has had a lot chasing to do to compete with Dreamweaver 3. In the year since GoLive 4 was released, the technological advances on the Internet have left designers needing new functionality.

HTML interloper

The increasing use of database-application servers to run Web sites has forced many designers to integrate non-html tags into their neat HTML pages. Unfortunately, many GoLive fans were reluctantly forced to change to using a plain-text editor once their work involved adding custom code. GoLive didn’t understand the customized code, and ended up changing it. Now, the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair is over. Adobe has called its revamped HTML-control 360Code. It’s the same idea as Macromedia’s RoundTrip HTML and something that should have been supported since day one. It’s more of a bug-fix than a new feature and means GoLive doesn’t mess-up your code anymore, thank goodness. This is because GoLive no longer treats custom tags as errors. The ColdFusion tags in Macworld Online pages were clearly shown as items on the layout page – instead of receiving an error warning for malformed tags.

The other major change is the introduction of Adobe’s famous user-interface. The familiar palettes and menus are now fully Adobe-ized, and are easy to use.

Thankfully though, the groovy GoLive interface functions are still there too. For example, the palettes can still be docked as tabs to the edge of your screen. Simply control-click the top bar and they snap to the side, freeing-up monitor space when they’re not in use.

All the GoLive functionality works in the same way, but with more familiar looking buttons and input boxes. CSS, dynamic HTML, precise pixel-perfect placement and cross-browser comparisons are all still there. There are a huge number of different drag-&-drop options – easily accessible via the familiar interface.

New features include customizable shortcuts and extensibility using JavaScript – and all W3 standards are supported.

Design updates – the new Smart Objects feature – allows tight integration with the rest of Adobe’s design products. Photoshop layers are also a part of the improved workflow. Photoshop 5.5’s save for Web is now integrated into GoLive. For last minute updates to your pages or graphics, you can add your own Smart Objects by clicking the icon. With the Smart Object place holder, selected in the composition window, the relevant Smart Object icon can be dragged into Photoshop. This can also be done by using the point-&-shoot button, or by drag-&-dropping from the desktop, or site window.

Double-clicking the Smart Object icon in your layout window will open the source application and allow you to edit, add effects, resize and save for Web. Back in GoLive, the Smart Object is automatically updated to reflect the changes made in Photoshop. Smart Objects works with LiveMotion and Illustrator, too.

Just like Macromedia, Adobe has added a tracing-image capability to GoLive 5.0 – and its level of opacity can be altered using a sliding-rule tool. Precise placement on the page is achieved by setting pixel dimensions in the palette, or by drag-&-dropping on to the page.

Looking back

A Photoshop-like History palette has been added too. While not only supporting multiple undos, GoLive 5.0’s new History palette keeps track of changes made during design in the source mode, or layout mode. You can jump backwards to earlier versions to see exactly how a certain element was created, or merely to start over from a certain point in design.

The default number of steps recorded is set at 20, but that can be increased, although this will also increase the amount of memory need to run the application. However, the History palette is cleared if you swap to another mode while in the same page, which can be annoying. It would be much more useful to be able to store or save the History palette in some way.

The ability to easily control HTML tables is as important to Web designers as brushes are to painters. Previous versions of GoLive’s table-creation and manipulation features were considered outstanding. For the first time, designers could get real control of what was once a boring slog of a job in a text editor. And, because of this reliance on using tables to correctly place elements on a Web page, designers need to have full control and easily editable HTML tables.

The new Table palette is more intelligent, provides extra control and helps you manipulate cells, rows and columns of tables easily. Adobe has included more pre-defined table styles, useful for smartening up long-winded tables. The palette replicates an outline of the table structure in miniature. By clicking on one of the cells in the palette to highlight it, you also see it highlight in outline on the composition page.

The Site Design function is one of my favourite new features, especially as no other Web-design program has this. A site’s structure and navigation can be planned within GoLive in prototype mode. This can then be shown to designers, to give a sense of how a site should look.

The elements and files stay strictly visual until it’s being built. It’s like having a built-in storyboard writer. Using the Design tab under the site menu, a new site diagram can be created and named. Annotations, that consist of a subject line and content box, can be added to keep notes on groups of pages.

Adobe has added a new feature called Dynamic Link to GoLive 5.0, offering the same functionality that Dreamweaver UltraDev has. Dynamic Link allows users to visually design dynamically-generated Web pages. It connects the visual interface – that users see in their browsers – to a back-end database server, churning out all the information for the site. However, to date GoLive 5.0’s Dynamic Link only works with Microsoft’s ASP (Active Server Pages). You can now connect to and deliver content source from any ODBC-compliant database, make up the coding, and preview the results with a click of the mouse.

However, those of us using other third-party application servers such as ColdFusion or Lasso will be glad to know that third-party extensions are already being developed by these companies.

Keeping track

Simple management of hundreds of Web site pages is made easier in GoLive 5.0. Also, sites made in other Web editors can be more easily imported into GoLive. A site-file containing all the elements, even cross-platform files vital to a particular site, is created. The Site Window has been updated, giving improved viewing of a site’s files and structure. The view controller adds multiple viewing-panes to the navigation, as well as links, design tabs, and site-design windows.

GoLive no longer has to re-write the entire site-file when changes are made and saved. It also creates a back-up site-file in case of system crashes, and warns you if you use the back-up instead of the original.

A range of different site reports can now be created, giving you information such as file sizes, and estimated download times. Reports on creation and modified dates, errors, missing or badly formed tags, objects, fonts and colours can also be created. There’s also a network-status report that gives information on your server connection, and can pick up any problems.

Adobe has also built WebDAV support (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning standard protocol) in to GoLive 5.0. If a site uses a WebDAV server, draft files can be locked, ensuring pages are not over-written accidentally.

Improved support

The Web is going to contain more streaming-media content in the future. Luckily for GoLive users, it has improved the on-board Interactive Editor. Using GoLive in conjunction with Adobe LiveMotion, buttons can be animated and exported as SWF files.

Adobe has improved support for technologies such as SWF files, and Real Media G2. First introduced in GoLive 4, the Movie Editor allows QuickTime and Flash movies to be edited, all without having to leave GoLive’s working environment. The improved Interactive Editor enhances the control you have over preparing streaming-QuickTime files. Adding audio, video, QuickTime or Flash elements to your Web pages should be a cinch with this feature’s drag-&-drop capabilities. The Movie Viewer now has a preview and layout tab. You can add SWF files to a separate SWF track in the timeline, letting you add interactivity to your movies in GoLive. You can import Photoshop layers as individual sprites to create rollover buttons, and GoLive translates the Photoshop layers – retaining the layer name – into sprite behaviours in QuickTime. Finished work can be exported in streaming format.

Apple’s WebObjects sites can be created in GoLive. Standard Vector Graphics is an open-standard vector-graphics language based on XML that lets you design Web pages with high-resolution graphics, including special effects and gradients. Adobe is supporting SVG across its product line, including GoLive 5.0. The SVG viewer is a stand-alone plug-in downloadable from or from the GoLive 5.0 CD installation. However, Internet Explorer 5 for Macintosh will currently display only static images in SVG format.

With ExtendScript SDK (Software Developer Kit), GoLive’s functionality can be extended by third parties creating their own solutions for download. It includes a JavaScript interpreter and debugger, and lets developers add custom menus, commands, floating palettes and tabs in the object palette.

GoLive 5.0 has an integrated development-environment for JavaScript. You can also connect to shared cross-platform libraries.

The recent announcements at Seybold include partnerships with companies developing WML (Wireless Markup Language) and i-mode, such as world-leaders Nokia and Razorfish. This will enable GoLive developers to design, manage and deliver content to wireless-Web users.

Other extensions in development with third-party partners include a plug-in for creating AvantGo content, and Blue World has also announced it’ll deliver a version of Lasso Studio for GoLive 5.0. See Macworld Online Daily News for updates.

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