Serif – Internet Design Suite review

Web development in a box
Photo of Serif – Internet Design Suite
£45.00 + VAT

Serif’s Internet Design Suite incorporates three of the company’s design-oriented products; WebPlus 7 home page creator, PhotoPlus 6 image editing package and 3DPlus 2, which generates 3D effects for logos and text headings. Together they represent a fairly comprehensive Web development package that will allow the creation of home pages and small business Web sites, as long as there’s nothing too complicated or dynamic involved.

The core of the package is WebPlus 7, which is a WYSIWYG HTML editor that allows text and graphical items to be dragged and dropped into place and then manipulated in situ to suit your preference. As you’d expect, there’s a wide selection of pre-designed templates which can be edited and manipulated, before text is simply typed into the relevant boxes.

This all works fairly well, but it’s largely limited to text and graphical elements. What you won’t find here is support for truly interactive pages. The closest WebPlus 7 comes to that is its support for JavaScript and style sheets, allowing the use of mouse-over effects and other on-page dynamic elements. The emphasis here is definitely on static HTML pages, so any dynamic features such as discussion forums, etc. will have to be added manually.

PhotoPlus 6 is an image editing tool in the Paint Shop Pro mould. Despite the slightly unusual interface it’s a reasonably powerful piece of software, with support for filters, colour adjustment, GIF animation and a range of image enhancement ‘quick fixes’, designed to get the most out of digital camera images. The latter can be downloaded directly into the program, assuming a TWAIN driver is installed. Ultimately, if you have your own preferred image editor there’s no pressing need to switch to this one, but it’s handy if you don’t.

3DPlus 2 offers similar features to products such as Xara WebStyle, in that it will take your text and apply various effects and lighting to produce a 3D logo or heading. But it will do a lot more than that, too. 3DPlus 2 can be used to render 3D scenes and generate animated GIFs that contain 3D elements. It does this using a selection of wizards that guide the user through the creation process. The program’s pretty easy to use and you get a bonus pack of 300 extra 3D wizards if you register the software. Items to be exported can be previewed and their size optimised to suit the user’s preferred download speed.

Company: Serif

Contact: 0800 376 7070


Verdict
The various components in this package - with the exception of WebPlus 7 - are a little behind the most recent stand-alone versions of the products, but they still do the job well. Integration between them isn't great, but sensible utilities such as a built-in FTP client all go to make life easier for the novice Web developer. It's definitely not for professionals, but it's a fantastic product for the price and ideal for part-time Web-monkeys and small businesses.