Installation proceeds remarkably smoothly, and as well as installing itself it optionally includes a copy of TopStyle Lite 1.5, a style sheet editor from Bradbury Software. Once installed, opening HomeSite reveals a busy but well-designed development environment. The main design window has three tabbed views: Edit, Browse and Design.
The Edit window displays the HTML code for a given page, with colour-coded tags, attributes and text to make navigation of the code more straightforward than it would be in a simple text editor like Notepad. Adding new code is even more straightforward than viewing existing code. Tags can be added via the Tag Chooser dialog, from a toolbar or simply by typing them in. Enter an opening tag, such as <b>, and HomeSite will auto-complete the closing </b>. Tags can be applied to existing text simply by highlighting and selecting the tag or keyboard shortcut (such as Ctrl-I for italics, Ctrl-B for bold, etc.).
An alternative to using Edit mode to build a page is to use the Design view. Here a page can be designed interactively, and any changes made are reflected automatically in the underlying HTML. In practice, Design mode is very similar to the Normal view in FrontPage, though it has to be said that when it comes to the creation and resizing of cells within tables, FrontPage is more flexible than HomeSite.
Finally, Browse view displays your page as it would appear in a Web browser. Like FrontPage’s Preview mode, Browse is strictly a read-only view of your page.
In addition to the ease with which individual pages can be created, HomeSite scores strongly on its support for ‘projects’. At its simplest a project can be an entire Web site or part of a site. Setting up a site as a project means that things such as a global search and replace can be performed on all pages in a project, deployment scripts can be created to upload your site to a network, RDS or FTP directory, and so on.
There are many more features included in the product than we can do justice to in this review. The ease with which code snippets can be set up and re-used, the way that page templates can be created and the programmer-style indenting of code all deserve a mention.
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