Review first published by WindoWatch.com
Macromedia's Dreamweaver comes with either BBEdit (A Mac editor) or Homesite (a PC editor) both of which are text-based editors with built-in HTML editing features. Homesite is the topic of this article.
The basic features of Homesite include a good reference section, a delightful style sheet editor, a validation check, a link check and very easy to configure menus and free floating palettes. The options for Homesite include customising the HTML tool palette for items you frequently use, and setting up CodeSweeper to clean up the HTML in ways you prefer. Homesite has an option that allows you to create a project, then it tracks which items in the project need to be updated to your online website.
The browse window is a quick preview of your page as it should look in a browser. You can also preview the page in the browser of your choice, but I've found that Homesite fairly accurately reflects how the page should look in the browser. Homesite does properly apply style sheet attributes as well.
The design window is supposed to help you visually
design the page. I haven't used it much, if I want to
visually design a page, I would use Dreamweaver.
Most of the items that are available in the menus of Homesite are also available on various toolbars. The editor toolbar includes most of the basics (new, open, save, find, find and replace etc.) It also includes buttons for codesweeper (reformats your HTML), a colour palette (let's you quickly select a colour), link check, HTML check and spell check.
The toolbar is actually made of four different sections,
each of which can be pulled off and used as a free-floating
palette instead. Just click the double line and drag the
palette somewhere else. You can also close one or more of
them if you don't like having the toolbars there. All
the functions are replicated in the menu at the top of the
The quick bar
The quick bar is meant to be just that. A quick way to reference your most frequently used commands. This bar is can be edited, just go to the Options -> Customise and make the changes that you need.
You'll find different items in the quick bar do slightly different things. The icon to add a line break just inserts that line break. The little anchor brings up a list of options for the anchor you are inserting. And the first icon in the table menu will invoke a table wizard, which makes it very easy to insert a table that is exactly what you want.
One thing many people find confusing when they first start editing HTML is the tags and the attributes allowed on the tags. Homesite can assist in that the tag editor quite plainly shows you the basic attributes of the tag, and advanced option that may not work for all browsers. In fact, for the table cell it shows browser specific options, HTML 4.0 attributes, accessibility attributes (things to increase accessibility of your table), and more. Using this makes it clear, if you set a border colour on a table cell only Internet Explorer will be able to display that as you expect.
The tag editor is simply invoked by right clicking on any tag you wish to edit. Fill in or change any fields that you like, then press "ok" to finish.
You may be able to see two small icons just above the
"cancel" button. One of them opens a help file
just under the information already there. The other opens a
new window with a help file.
The resource tab
The resource tab is a window to the left of the screen when you have it on. It can show you: the local file system, the remote files (if doing project with remote files), the projects files, the links in the file you are currently editing, HTML snippets that you have saved, help or a tag inspector. The tag inspector is much like the tag editor above.
This is an independent program included with Homesite. It is the friendliest style sheet editors that I have seen, and one of the most useful. On the right are the properties that you can set in a style sheet. On the left are the elements, ids and classes that you have created so far for that style sheet. The bottom part of the editor shows you what the current selected style should look like and the code that is used to produce it.
This editor can read in external style sheets, so you can use it to help determine how styles were set in someone else's pages. In general, I find that using this program allows me to quickly build much more complex classes, like the .infobox in the example. I can fiddle with the settings and see the results quite easily.
I cannot recommend using the style sheet editor for
inserting a style on a particular tag. The editor
doesn't want to shut down properly after that.
The first gotcha is the problem mentioned earlier about the style sheet editor and inserting a style on a particular tag. It did not behave properly, though I would expect that Allaire will fix this problem once they are aware of it.
The second gotcha is that templates work differently in Dreamweaver and Homesite. In Homesite, the template simply does the initial layout/setup of your webpage. If you change the template, pages created from that template will *not* be changed. Dreamweaver locks the templated part of the page and automatically wants to update pages whenever the template changes.
The third small gotcha has to do with cleaning up older pages. I was trying to use Homesite to test the links of some pages I created several years ago. The program wasn't finding the links properly to test. I discovered that using CodeSweeper first then running the link checker worked.
Homesite costs $89 for a single user license (electronic copy) or $99 for the physical copy and is well worth every penny. If you understand the basics of HTML, this tool can speed your production of web pages greatly. The link checker, the HTML validation, the tag editor and the style sheet editor are my favourite tools in this program. In fact at work, Homesite is the editor of choice for our PC users when creating web pages.