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HomeSite Version 2.5 for Windows 95

Build it and they will come!

by Alan German

So, you have read the learn-HTML-in-a-week text book, and you have struggled, trying to cut and paste between several text files in multiple instances of Notepad, while remembering dozens of tags, and all the numeric codes for French accented characters. Now you are ready to move up to a fully-fledged HTML editor. 

There are lots of choices on the store shelves, in colourful boxes, at even more colourful prices. An alternative is to check the pages of PC Magazine (Vol. 16, No. 16; September 23, 1997) for the winner of their 1997 shareware award in this category - HomeSite for Windows 95 - then log on to The PUB and download the software!  HOMESITE ZIP    1,679,323    14/09/97    HTML editor

If any of the above sounds familiar, then the HomeSite package may well be your web builder of choice. It is an exceedingly well crafted product which will allow you to efficiently build, expand, and modify your web site. 

Usable interface

The main screen offers a file list down the left margin. Double clicking a file name loads the HTML code into the edit window. A two-tab system allows rapid switching between editing the source code, and browsing the resulting page. You can use Homesite's default browser, or configure the program to use Microsoft's Internet Explorer internally in the browser window. A single mouse click on the browser tab displays the page using the code in the edit window - you don't have to save the page first in order to see the result of any changes. Even better, an undo button lets you retrieve the original code if you don't like the effect that your latest edit produces. You may also set up HomeSite to view a page in several external browsers in order to check the appearance of the code in the different packages. 

File management

Having multiple pages open at the same time is no problem. Each open page has its own file tab. Clicking on the tab brings that page into the edit-browse mode. A really nice feature is that any coded page which has been modified, but not saved, is flagged with a red square on the file tab. Saving files is easily achieved by clicking on a Windows-type disk button on the toolbar; or you can use File - Close All, to shut down all completed files at a stroke. 

In common with many HTML editors, HomeSite allows you to highlight a phrase, and then click on a toolbar button to designate a heading level, boldfaced type, the colour of the text, or to bring up a dialog box for images and links. A nice feature of the package is the major saving in screen real estate achieved by nesting toolbars for such items as fonts, lists, tables, and frames. 

Useful toolbars

A number of different toolbars may be optionally displayed. One particularly useful toolbar is that for special characters. This gives access to such characters as ampersand, the copyright symbol, and to the special quotation marks used in French text (find those in Notepad!). Tabs for extended lower and upper case provide quick access to accented characters. You can even add multiple customized toolbars. 

Spelling checker

If you type like I do, then knowing that a spelling checker is included in the package adds greatly to the appeal. Users of Microsoft Word will feel right at home, as the icon and the dialog boxes for the spelling checker in HomeSite are going to look very familiar. 

Extensive help file

The package features an extensive help file, and a quick reference on individual tags. HomeSite is designed for those who are familiar with HTML coding; however, the help file points to a number of useful links as references. 

Works your way

HomeSite can be extensively configured to work in the manner which you desire. For example, you can set the colours to be used for different HTML code elements in the editor, auto-indent your code, and have the program always insert ALT="" in image tags. One item to check here is the default file extension -- the program initializes using .html rather than .htm. 

Special features

There are many other special features of the program, many of which I haven't tried yet, including block indenting, extended replace (across entire directory), support for style sheets, Active-X and Java, rulers (screen resolution), validation of source code, verification of links, creating and publishing "projects". 

The opening splash screen indicates that you may use HomeSite 50 times before having to purchase a license. This gives you lots of opportunity to try before you buy. If you have any interest in coding web pages -- easily -- give this program a try. At this price, you may well become one of the buyers!

Bottom Line:

Homesite (Shareware; Registration US$ 39.95)
Version 2.5 for Windows 95 or NT
Allaire Corporation, Cambridge, MA

Upgrade (03-Apr-98):
Homesite Version 3.0 is now available at a cost of US$ 79.00

Originally published: April, 1998

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