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More wysiwyg design power and dedicated re-purposing functionality make GoLive attractive for the print-oriented designer.

Adobe GoLive is definitely the odd-one-out in the batch of CS releases. Whereas Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign all have their roots in print, GoLive concentrates on web publishing. And that's immediately bad news for Adobe as it means direct competition with Macromedia's all-conquering Dreamweaver. So can GoLive CS find a viable role for itself as a standalone or as part of the Professional Edition of the Creative Suite?

Ever since Adobe brought GoLive into its line-up (or CyberStudio as it was back then), the program has felt semi-detached from the other applications. That's slightly less the case in this new version as GoLive now offers features such as more consistent colour handling based on the shared Color palette, a redesigned Objects palette that functions more like a Photoshop-style toolbar, and the ability to collapse palettes though not to dock them. You can also now zoom in on layouts right up to 1600% for pixel-level precision.

New interface features are designed to integrate GoLive into the Creative Suite.

This is typical of GoLive's very visual, print-friendly approach to web design based on its wysiwyg Layout view where you can drag out text and picture boxes just as you do in InDesign, with GoLive recreating the layout as HTML tables behind the scenes. Particularly handy here is the new SmartGuide feature where lines appear automatically as you move objects around to help ensure object alignment.

In recent years the possibilities for web design have become much richer thanks to the take-up of CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to work alongside HTML. Not surprisingly GoLive CS seizes on the opportunity, providing a dedicated CSS Editor in which you can create your own styles complete with real-time visual feedback, support for different styles for different media and the ability to drag style elements to re-order their priority. You can apply the styles you create directly from the Type menu or with the CSS Inspector which also offers feedback on style parameters. The power is there but compared to Dreamweaver MX 2004's streamlined CSS handling, GoLive's is typically over-complicated.

GoLive offers dedicated CSS inspection and editing.

Although GoLive emphasizes the visual side of web design, it does recognize that ultimately it is dealing in code. In particular, alongside its Layout view, GoLive offers various Source Code view options. New features here include customizable syntax colouring, a Snippets palette for regularly used code sections, a Query Editor to build up advanced search-and-replaces, a quick tag selector and improved optimization. Most useful of all is the new source code completion which provides a dropdown list of tags as you work and means that you don't have to type everything by hand. As well as HTML, the syntax-aware completion engine works with CSS, JavaScript, PHP, SMIL, SVG, XHTML and XML. The improvements are all welcome but, if you regularly work with your pages from the code up, you're still much better-off with Dreamweaver.

Context-sensitive completion and snippet handling help speed coding.

Where GoLive CS has a unique advantage over its rival is when it comes to integration with Adobe's other applications and technologies. Most surprising here are GoLive CS's new PDF-based capabilities. Not only can you view and load PDFs directly within GoLive, you can even make late changes to links and bookmarks. And GoLive CS can also produce its own PDFs, based either on page designs or on site diagrams - it even offers a PDF Preview as one of its main document modes - and if you save to the latest PDF 1.5 format you can even embed Flash and QuickTime movies (incidentally GoLive's unique in-built QuickTime movie support has again been enhanced).

Adobe makes the case for the benefit of PDF-based integration within a web authoring environment in terms of secure workgroup review, but tight integration with the main graphic applications is more practically useful. This is where GoLive's SmartObjects come in. If you drag and drop an Illustrator or Photoshop graphic into GoLive it is automatically converted to a SmartObject, or now multiple separate SmartObjects for layered PSDs. This creates a live connection between the original file and a final optimized GIF or JPEG version and means that you can resize, and now crop, the SmartObject while keeping the highest output quality and the smallest output size. And new site-wide tracking means any changes to the original are automatically reflected in the optimized version. Support for ImageReady CS files have also been improved with support for rollover states and links and,because GoLive uses the same JavaScript code itself, you can create local or remote rollovers based on them.

By far the biggest change comes in GoLive's new integration with InDesign CS. If you use InDesign CS's Package for GoLive command this creates a specialized PDF version of your publication complete with all attached graphic files and XML-based text. You can then open this into GoLive CS's special viewer and then drag the print-oriented graphics into linked SmartObjects ready for optimized JPEG/GIF web output. At the same time GoLive CS automatically maps the XML-tagged styles in the publication's text to existing or assigned CSS styles or creates them from scratch. And if you update the original package in InDesign the web pages in GoLive automatically reflect the changes.

Integration with InDesign helps print repurposing.

It's not a perfect cross-media solution and still requires plenty of manual intervention, but it's an ingenious attempt to answer the perennial question of how to repurpose print material for the Web and it gives GoLive CS a unique edge. For standalone, code-centred web authoring, the latest Dreamweaver MX 2004 remains the clear winner. For integrated, design-intensive print repurposing, GoLive CS has an important role to play extending the publishing power of Adobe's Creative Suite Professional Edition from paper to the Web.

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System requirements Pentium III 600MHz, 128Mb of RAM, 200Mb of hard disk space, Windows 2000 (SP3) or XP, CD-ROM.

Tom Arah

Nov 2003

Full Photoshop CS2 review
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