Ottawa PC Users' Group, Inc.
 Product Review 


Koala HTML (v1.01)
by
Brigitte Lord


There are a number of programs available to the webmaster to help him design and maintain a website. The simplest of these is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type of program that lets you place text, images, and other elements graphically on a page.

As you work, you see almost exactly how the page will look in a browser. The most difficult way to create a web page is to work in a basic text editor such as Notepad or WordPad and type all the HTML tags manually. Not only do you not see what the page looks like as you work, but you must know many common HTML tags and how to use them. Because HTML tags are usually repeated many times on any web page, this becomes tedious and can lead to typos that will make the tags ineffective. The result is a web page with elements that may not be rendered correctly or at all.

Koala HTML by AVANTRIX Inc. falls in between WYSIWYG and manual HTML text editing. The HTML tags are all pre-formatted for you and you merely have to click them with your mouse to insert them in the built-in text editor. This eliminates HTML typos and greatly reduces keystrokes. The interface of the program is laid out with a narrower window on the left containing an extensive list of HTML tags, and a wider window on the right containing a text editor for inserting the tags and composing HTML “freehand”. The progress of the web page can be previewed at any time by clicking the Preview tab. This shows the web page in an Internet Explorer-type browser window. Alternatively, the web page can be quickly launched in a browser of your choice (provided you already have it installed on your system) from the Tools button on the menu bar. All HTML elements are colour-coded in the text editor, but a word wrap feature is not available, forcing one to scroll horizontally. To make matters worse, the left window containing the tags is not resizable. Although it can be closed completely, this is not practical for beginners.
 

Koala HTML offers three templates from which to build your web page. The Basic template contains some sample text, a block quote section, a bulleted list, and a hyperlinked e-mail address. The Table template contains some of the above with a preformatted table. These two templates offer a frame onto which a less experienced user can build his web page. The more experienced user will most likely use the Blank template containing the bare-minimum in HTML tags.

The program offers a number of GIF and JPEG web images for buttons, lines, bullets, and backgrounds. As well, many animated GIF’s are bundled with the program. Several scripts are available in DHTML and Java such as Browser Redirect, Add to Favourites, Slide In Menu Bar, Mouse Pointer Effect, and Lottery Number Picker. I especially liked the Rain Effect and the Chinese Zodiac. Much appreciated is the extensive list of tag items that includes even the most mundane elements like &nbsp (non-breaking space), and <!— —> which lets you insert an internal comment on the page that will not display in a browser.

Unlike HTML code generated by some WYSIWYG programs, the code in Koala HTML is clean and non-proprietary due to its list of standard tags. A web page created in an upscale word processor, for example, may contain a great deal of extraneous code that some browsers may ignore or interpret incorrectly. Koala even tells you which tags work strictly in either Internet Explorer or Netscape Navigator (such as the infamous BLINKING tag created by Netscape). Of course, it would be easy to add all kinds of unnecessary code with this type of program, after all, it’s so easy to click-and-insert all those tags. For this reason, it would be nice if Koala HTML had a proof-reading feature for beginners to clean-up their code if necessary.
 

Koala HTML also gives you the ability to publish your web page. The built-in FTP client is basic but functional. It can automatically upload any images or other web items (called Dependencies) that you have included in your web page. If it cannot find these items, it will prompt you to browse for them on your hard drive. Advanced users can turn this feature off, but this is a nice touch for beginners.

After working with Koala HTML, I found the program easy to use and effortless. Insertion of HTML tags, images, and scripts was a breeze. The experienced user will truly appreciate the reduction in repetitive keystrokes and typos. However, an inexperienced user with little knowledge of HTML would have difficulty assembling anything but a basic web page. In future versions, I would like to see an entire help section devoted to defining each tag (as I have seen in another program). Although AVANTRIX recommends Koala HTML to users who do not have any experience in creating a web page, I feel the user needs to be somewhat familiar with HTML in order to use this program comfortably.

For those who would like to try Koala HTML, there is a fully functional 15-day demo version available for download at http://www.avantrix.com/download.htm


Bottom Line:

Koala HTML (v1.0)
15-day demo version available for download from web site
from AVANTRIX
Web site: http://www.avantrix.com


Copyright and Usage
Ottawa Personal Computer Users' Group (OPCUG), Inc.
3 Thatcher Street, Ottawa, ON  K2G 1S6

The opinions expressed in these reviews may not necessarily
represent the views of the OPCUG or its members.