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Author: Eric G.E. Zuelow
Title: GoLive CyberStudio 3.0 Professional Edition
Publication info: Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
April 1999

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Source: GoLive CyberStudio 3.0 Professional Edition
Eric G.E. Zuelow

vol. 2, no. 1, April 1999
Article Type: Software Review
PDF: Download full PDF [460kb ]

GoLive CyberStudio 3.0 Professional Edition

Eric G.E. Zuelow

GoLive CyberStudio 3.0 Professional Edition, $289.99

In the first issue of The Journal of the Association for History and Computing, Daniel Pfeifer provided an excellent review of two basic WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) applications: Netscape Composer and Microsoft FrontPage Express. He concluded by arguing that most users will find these applications adequate. If the user intends to put together very basic Web sites with only one or two pages — an online version of a course syllabus, for example — Pfeifer is correct. Even though both FrontPage and Composer have annoying bugs, they do the job.

But what happens when the user wishes to create more complex sites with complicated layouts, numerous pages or multimedia features? In any of these cases, it quickly becomes necessary to upgrade to more advanced software. While there are many such applications on the market, those using the Macintosh operating system will find none higher rated thanGoLive CyberStudio 3.0, — a massive "Professional" level application which was recently purchased by Adobe Systems and has become the crown jewel of Adobe's well-loved web publishing library. CyberStudio is not available for PCs.

In the write's case, it was necessary to upgrade to more advanced software because the departmental web site he had built using Composer and a text editor had grown to nearly 100 pages. Each time I needed to add a file, alter a link from one page of the site to another, or find and repair any bugs that had appeared, I faced at least an hour of work. CyberStudio, though expensive, is the top-rated HTML editor/WYSIWYG application for the Macintosh and it seemed a logical choice, especially given the lower academic price!

As with most Macintosh applications, loading CyberStudio is a snap. However, once installed it takes a few minutes to overcome the shell-shock resulting from the sheer magnitude of the application. The CyberStudio user manual is 709 pages and it comes with four smaller manuals and a brief MoviePlayer video introducing numerous features.

Thankfully, the learning curve is not nearly as steep as initially feared. Layout is accomplished by placing elements from a desktop publishing style toolkit onto a page. Indeed, CyberStudio is easier to use and more precise than Composer or FrontPage for most layout chores. While users of Composer or FrontPage must use tables to position images and text in specific positions on a page, CyberStudio allows the user to use a grid to place page components with near pixel precision anywhere on the page. Similarly, if the user want to use frames, he or she need only choose from a menu of different configurations and drag the corresponding icon onto the page.

CyberStudio does not limit the user to WYSIWYG page layout, however. Instead, users may choose to directly edit their site's code without needing a separate text editing application; one needs only to click a convenient button to view and edit code directly in CyberStudio's window. While experienced FrontPage users frequently complain about the "ugly" code that FrontPage generates (making editing difficult at times), CyberStudio not only displays the code in a convenient color-coded manner, but the code itself is simple and easy to edit. There is also a useful find/change feature which allows for swift editing of one or more lines of code.

Users may easily view and edit site code within the application itself

Creating links, the backbone of HTML, is also exceptionally easy in CyberStudio. Highlight the text to be linked, select an "inspector" feature from the scroll-down menu and then pull an arrow from the inspector window to whatever page is being linked to. This "Point and Shoot" feature makes internal site management incredibly easy and reduces chores which could take hours in Composer to just minutes. Off-site links are accomplished by simply typing in the desired page's URL, much as in Composer.

Indeed, it is in site management where CyberStudio really shines. All pages are contained in a convenient "site window." By single clicking on any of the site's pages, and selecting the "link inspector" function from the scroll-down menu, a graphical site map is created illustrating the path of every link on the selected page. By selecting any of the pages appearing in this site map, the user is then able to follow links throughout the site. This graphical presentation makes it easy to create and manage navigation schemes on even the most complex sites. 

CyberStudio easily generates site maps making site management a snap. Note the question mark and "Empty Reference" notation on the upper right — a feature which allows the programmer to quickly find problem links.

If any link is not functioning, a question mark linked to the webpage appears in the site map (see image) . Similarly, any pages containing bad links appear with a small green bug next to them in the site window. This allows the user to quickly locate problems without needing to go page by page as one must do in the less expensive or free web page creation applications. As with the complete version of FrontPage, changing the name of any page within the site window automatically changes it throughout the web site, again saving time and effort. Indeed, CyberStudio makes it possible to make global changes in this manner, altering images, links and other features throughout the site is child's play.

In addition, CyberStudio allows users to easily preview their sites on a variety of platforms and browser versions/brands - an essential feature given the differences between the way browser's read HTML.

Beyond these basic features, CyberStudio includes a collection of pre-written Java Applets which make it easy to create Java buttons and Java script. Serious Web developers frequently praise CyberStudio's impressive Dynamic HTML creation capabilities. Though most historians may have little need for Java or Dynamic HTML in their sites, CyberStudio makes it easy to implement these features when desired.

As with all things, CyberStudio is not perfect. It is a massive piece of software and so demands considerable memory allocation and a fast CP

Tool windows can make it difficult for those with smaller monitors to see tool boxes and their page simultaneously

U. Because each tool window, palette, and inspector window demands monitor space, the user needs a large monitor to avoid finding your site buried in CyberStudio's many features. The writer's 13.5 inch viewable monitor, for example, is simply not adequate to fully utilize the application and he must frequently close and reopen tool windows in order to view web pages and then make changes.

More seriously, some instability problems with the application have appeared. Though these are not nearly as bad as those experienced by Composer users, they remain inexcusable in such an expensive piece of software. Specifically, the application would occasionally crash due to a "bus error" when editing certain pages and links. Reinstalling the software fixed the problem.

Finally, CyberStudio 3.0 is expensive. The suggested retail price is $289.99, though the academic price is substantially lower. There is also a scaled down version of the software called CyberStudio Personal Edition which retails for just $75.99, but lacks many of the features described here. Clearly, CyberStudio 3.0 is a luxury item for most designers. Faculty and students wishing to publish large sites with numerous graphics, sound files and pages will do well to purchase this software. Most others will be satisfied by following Pfeifer's advice.

Eric G.E. Zuelow
University of Wisconsin-Madison