Freeway 5 Pro Review

Web authoring is a competitive market that’s seen the early demise of more than one application along the way. Freeway soldiers on and version 5 is a major upgrade for one of the web’s longest running web design tools. There’s an easy explanation for Freeway’s longevity; it’s aimed at designers, not developers. Though it outputs HTML or XHTML, the workflow is defiantly code-free, with drag-and-drop tools and a DTP-style design environment.

In Freeway 5 Pro there are some subtle changes and some more major and welcome enhancements. We were pleased to see better support for CSS elements. They’re now easier to work with, with hooks for both external and internal styles. Colour coding helps you keep track of blocks, positioning is more flexible and support’s improved for relative positioning.

The interface has had more than a swift lick of paint too. For example, the Inspector panel resizes depending on what item or property is selected. You can control-click to access contextual menus. Perhaps best of all, page preview uses WebKit, Safari’s browser engine, so what you see really is what you get.

Accessibility is an issue Freeway takes seriously, with automatic accessibility reports, previews and improved accessibility support within tables and forms. And, even though you never have to look at a line of code, Freeway supports a range of output modes – from the defunct HTML 3.2 specification right through to strict XHTML 1.1.

The program may be design lead and aimed at non-coders, but that doesn’t stop you from adding dynamic elements to pages. We loved Blogger templates support. These are one of the many perks of Freeway Actions – prefabricated code that forms the building blocks for dynamic pages. And, being design conscious, Freeway’s handling of graphic elements is consistently impressive.

OUR VERDICT

Freeway Pro remains the best tool available for designers who are shy of code. Paired up with a decent HTML editor it makes an ideal prototyping package for more development heavy projects too. If you’re serious about PHP programming and server side integration, though, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

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