Foremost of the new features in GoLive CS2 is much greater support for building Web pages using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS). Intended primarily as a design-led rather than a programmer’s tool, the GoLive workflow hasn’t previously concentrated on the hand-coding that CSS layouts required. With the CS2 version, then, a new visual way of designing CSS pages is sure to be welcomed.
The new Object Selection and Standard Editing tools work with the containers for content on CSS pages – known as DIVs – as well as directly on the content itself. The enhanced Layer tool helps you accurately create and place CSS DIVs on a page, correctly aligning them using Smart Guide and snap-to-grid functions.
Simultaneously, GoLive writes the underlying CSS code for the page elements as they’re positioned – making it more streamlined than using table-based code. Another change is that the Layout Grid and the Layout Text Box tools, previously applied to table elements, now produce CSS-based layouts as default. CSS pages can also be built quickly by drag-&-dropping in CSS objects.
The SDK (software development kit) that ships with the application makes the creation of such CSS block objects simple, allowing you to define them based on your own style guide for example. You can view the source code and check syntax as you edit CSS stylesheets, as well as convert HTML styles automatically to CSS styles and apply a default CSS stylesheet to all new files created.
File handling has also become easier with GoLive CS2 when you take into account the new features of the Site Management window and the In & Out Links palette, which support the global tracking and modifying of CSS usage. All this is aimed at reducing the complexity of CSS authoring and intended to get more designers into designing scaleable solutions, so that a table on a page of mobile content will render as well as one on the same page viewed with Safari or Firefox.
This beta version was stable enough and has excellent integration with Adobe Bridge, the main new hub of Creative Suite 2, as well as its fellow suite components. Of these, InDesign had the highest profile last time around, with its ability to package whole layouts in Web-ready versions for editing in GoLive CS. This ability has been refined here to offer an XHTML Web site that can be automatically generated from a package of InDesign assets. There’s a finer control over which pages (or even specific objects) are exported, and you can also apply custom Web style guides during the import process. For example if a CSS template is applied, the packaged assets form a CSS-based site-only one initial design is required for as many configurations as you wish, including for mobile delivery.
Then there’s the support shared between Illustrator and GoLive for SVG, the open standard vector graphics format. Using the new Live Trace feature in Illustrator CS2, any bitmap image can become a vector graphic, ready to be scaled without fear of degradation. Taking this into GoLive CS2 opens it up to the world of MMS content, a market reckoned to be worth $4 billion in the near future and likely to feature the SVG-Tiny (SVG-t) content format that now ships on every Sony Ericsson handset.
Supporting SVG-t 1.0 and 1.1, GoLive CS2 can accept SVG files from Illustrator, animate them using a third-party tool such as Ikivo Animator before adding interactivity in the new visual SVG-t Editor. This has three linked views: a simple layout view with play controls to scrub through the animation, a source window to view and edit code and an Art Tree view which can display all the graphic components in the SVG-t file.
There’s also native support for SMIL (1.0 and 2.0) messaging applications while discrepancies in screen sizes, image support, and SMIL support on different devices are intended to be salved by the MMS Optimizer feature. Here you can select the devices for which you are authoring and then batch-process MMS content to optimize it for each device in the queue, with some phone skins and device profiles from the likes of Sony Ericsson and Nokia included for device emulation.
The application is also geared up to create and update template-based MMS portals, so you can automate the process of uploading your content via a mobile gateway service provider. Supplied design themes can be used to customize your portal, using Smart MMS objects that contain preview and payment info for the downloadable content.
These Smart MMS objects can also be used in GoLive CS2 to add mobile content to standard Web pages and sites. Additionally, the application has the ability to convert HTML to XHTML, and XHTML to XHTML Mobile Profile.
While still not every Web designers first choice of workflow, GoLive’s ability to turn packaged InDesign pages and Illustrator content into rich Web and mobile media does tie in with the current Adobe mantra of ‘create once, publish anywhere’. It provides a very adequate solution for small publishers in particular who need to reuse their content. General Creative Suite users will still need a bit of education in order to deliver this, however. Like the rest of the Creative Suite 2, there will be aid on hand in the shape of the floating Help Centre, along with tutorials online but neither were active in the beta version reviewed here.