SHCC WYSIWYG Article from January 1999

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This article appeared in the January 1999 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Review of WebExpress

by Rick Schummer

Web Express is a program that allows you to create web pages without having to know much about HTML (Hypertext Markup Language).  It is advertised as being simple for novices to use, yet offer things for experts.

The club web page was done using HTML code, using only the basic Notepad text editor that comes with Windows.  My son Tim did some of it, and I did some of it.  That was an interesting few months of effort during a summer, and did result in some quality father/son time, since this was an extensive effort.  We have both gotten more proficient with HTML, and have done other web pages using it.

This review was my first experience with a program such as this for making web pages.  I must admit that it was a pleasant surprise to me, seeing how fast and easy web pages can be made with such a program.  If we had this program when doing the club web page, we would have done it much quicker.  We would have spent our time working on form and content, and would have had to spend very little time on the actual programming.

WEB PAGES
The program has a "wizard" which will let you start out with a professionally designed web site that you can modify to fit your needs.  There are various designs available.  Then there are various buttons, backgrounds, and other graphics available for customizing this site quickly into a site that can suit your purpose.  In any case, it is only necessary that you have some idea of what you want to do before you start.

BASICS
Web browsers and computer systems on the Internet are different, and a web page can appear different in them than the page designer intended.  That makes the job of designing a web page more difficult.  It also limits the choices possible in design, fonts selected, etc.  Designing web pages involves more limited choices than designing publications with desktop publishing.

Working with text in Web Express resembles that of a word processor as much as possible for a web page.  Using fonts, size, bold, italic, and color are similar to using a word processor.

Graphics are easy to work with, and very similar to working with them in desktop publishing.  You merely select the graphic, place the cursor where you want the graphic to appear, click an icon, and it loads in.  It appears where it is placed.  The graphic can also be sized in place.  It is only necessary to select it, and drag a side of the image.  Locating or sizing a graphic using only HTML code is much more difficult.

Since GIF and JPEG are the two main graphic formats on the Internet.  This program gives you the option to convert other graphics formats to one of these.  Other formats will not be viewed by all browsers.

BEYOND THE BASICS
Tables are very useful on web pages for keeping text and graphics located in relation to each other.  With HTML code, setting up a table to place things right where you want, can be difficult.  With Web Express, it is only necessary to place the cursor where the table is desired, and click on an icon.  A screen appears, asking for the number of columns and rows, and then the table appears across the web page.  The table can then be sized, and the cells combined relative to each other as desired.  Text or graphics can then easily be added to each cell.

Links are easy to set up with this program, in less than a minute.  It is only necessary to highlight the text or select the graphic to be linked, and click an icon.  Then a table comes up listing the web pages currently available.  It is only necessary to click on an available page, add a different page title, add a page title from somewhere on the Internet, or add an e-mail address for e-mail links.  If the page with the link does not exist, the program asks if it should create a new page.

Bookmarks are equally easy to set up.  It is only necessary to first locate where the bookmark is desired, and add a bookmark name.  Then, it can be linked as described above.

One feature I really liked was a seemingly minor issue for this program.  The program allows text to be easily added to a graphic.  This is very useful for creating custom buttons.  On the club web page, this was a much more difficult thing to do.  As I need to add new buttons on the club web page in the future, I will convert them all to buttons created with this program.

I was able to open pages from the SHCC web page in this program and make changes.  Thus, it is not necessary that pages be developed in this program, to be modified by this program.

The instruction manual is very clear on how to do things.  Also, the program itself is fairly intuitive In the instruction manual, explanations are given on the use of the various features in making a web page.  This extra information, beyond the mechanics of how to do things, was useful and interesting.

EXPERT LEVEL
There are other options available for use by more advanced users, such as supporting HTML language extensions, HTML tags and blocks, and scripts like JavaScript.  Meta-com-mands, ActiveX controls, and sound tracts like Digital audio and MIDI music.  Marquees and Multimedia plug-ins are also supported.  These can add pizzazz to a web page, but goes beyond the basics.

WEBSITE MANAGER
There are 2 parts to this program.  All of the items described above take place in the page development window.  The Website Manager keeps track of the structure of the pages, as well as all the links, images, and bookmarks.  This is a quick way to find a particular place in the pages.  It can also quickly show which links are not set up properly.  This feature makes it easy to keep track of the details of the web site structure, as the web site gets complex with multiple pages and links.

SUPPORT
I did not need to call for support for this evaluation.  The manual and program help were good.  There is a web site that supports this program, at http://www.mve.com.  There are updates to the program for registered users, along with additional graphics, buttons, and backgrounds for web pages.  Other things are available for download as well.  There are also other links to places of interest for web designers.  An online tutorial is also available at the web site.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS:
The program is available for Windows95 and Windows 3.1.  For the Windows95 version, the system requirements are:
·PC with 486 or faster processor
·Windows 95 or NT (version 3.51 or later)
·8 MB RAM and 8 MB of free hard disk space
·CD-ROM drive
·Internet (ISP) account

COST
The retail price is $69.95.  It is available as a download from the web page.  Trial versions are available for download as well, from: http://www.mve.com .  The product is made by MicroVision Development.

RECOMMENDATION
Overall, I would recommend this program to anyone wanting to make web pages.  If you have never done this before, or are a novice, or are an intermediate web page programmer, this program will definitely be useful to you.  It will save you time in making your web page.  It will not limit your creativity, and will let you do what you want as much as possible in the HTML system.  You can concentrate on form and content rather than the programming to get things done.

There are features that can make an expert look good.  Also, for experts, or those who like writing HTML code, this program will allow you to add the code to your pages as you like.  It will leave the added code there, even if it doesn't understand it.  This will allow new things to be added which are developed after this program was written.

Since this program allows current web pages to be opened and modified, I will be using this program for updating and improving the SHCC web page in the coming months.  This was a fun program to evaluate, and I think I will get a lot of use out of it in the future.

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