Adobe GoLive CS2 review

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The main focus of the Creative Suite applications is on commercial print, with the one exception of GoLive. This tries to take the same high-impact design-rich approach to the Web. As such, GoLive has long been interested in the design potential of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), and with this release CSS moves centre stage.

Adobe GoLive CS2 review

For CSS-based type handling, there are a number of new features, including the option of converting HTML styles to CSS, the ability to specify a default CSS and greatly improved site-wide CSS management, right down to the ability to see how many times particular classes and identifiers are used. The biggest difference is the revamp of the CSS Editor, which now lets you view the Definitions and Source views simultaneously.

Surprisingly, the most fundamental CSS-based changes aren’t concerned with typography but layout. CSS positioning has now been made the default for Layout Grid designs, with the former conversion to HTML tables now left as an option. The Objects palette has been redesigned to reflect the new approach with a new tab for dragging on CSS layout objects, such as the popular three-column layout with resizable central column. The palette also now provides a new top section to access tools for drawing textbox-style layers, for zooming in and panning layouts. There’s even a dedicated Object Selection tool for selecting DIV tags, the core unit of CSS-based layouts.

The appeal of this approach to Adobe is obvious, as it makes GoLive look and feel more like the other Creative Suite applications, but there’s a strong feeling of padding. Is a Zoom tool capable of 1,600 per cent magnification necessary for onscreen layouts that will always be displayed at 100 per cent? More importantly, Adobe seems to have got things the wrong way around. CSS-based layout was only added in the Level 2 specification, which isn’t yet fully supported by all browsers. It would be better to concentrate, like Dreamweaver, on the Level 1 typographic capabilities of CSS and, for example, avoid the use of the deprecated and inefficient tag for sizing and colouring.

Another point to bear in mind is that it’s a relatively trivial programming task to implement CSS2-based layouts, so where’s the other new power in GoLive CS2?

The biggest development is in authoring mobile content for viewing on handsets. Here, Adobe’s commitment to open standards and interest in graphics comes to the fore. A wide range of mobile formats – XHTML, XHTML Mobile Profile, WML, i-mode and MMS – are each catered for with integrated layout and source view editing; the support for CSS @media querying enables dual targeting, and GoLive’s Opera-driven Live Renderer now offers a dedicated small screen view. Most impressive is GoLive CS2’s support for the web vector SVG Tiny (SVG-t) format, which is expected to be big in the near future. Here, the tie-in with Illustrator CS2 and a new dedicated SVG-t editor, which integrates code editing, layout preview and hierarchical object selection, stand out.

It’s impressive power but, for the moment at least, mobile authoring is a minority interest compared to traditional web authoring. And here the other advances in GoLive CS2 – the ability to automatically convert an InDesign package to an XHTML website, support for secure file transfer through secure FTP and secure WebDAV via both SSL and SSH, and the ability to automate the creation of favicons for different browsers – look much thinner.

Overall, GoLive CS2 is a disappointing release. Dedicated web designers will be better served by the more streamlined Macromedia Dreamweaver.

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