HTML/Web Authoring Software
Evaluation - Spring 2000
The HTML/Web Authoring Software Evaluation Team was asked to identify, test and evaluate an HTML authoring product which would allow users to effectively create and maintain web sites in support of their academic or administrative work. After identifying the core needs of our audience - primarily individuals who spend up to 30% of their time creating or maintaining HTML documents - we began a two stage evaluation process. This is a brief description of our process and how we came to select Macromedia's Dreamweaver, version 3 as the recommended HTML authoring software.
Making the first round:
Our team started by gathering names of software packages to evaluate. Suggestions were first taken from members of our team, which included representatives from several schools and centers. Calls to the members of the Web Special Interest Group and Super Users Group produced a few more suggestions of products to evaluate.
We began with thirteen products and eliminated eleven based on the following criteria:
After the first cut, we ended with two products: Adobe's GoLive version 5.0 (which, at the time, was still being written and was available only in Beta) and Macromedia's Dreamweaver version 3. Although GoLive had still not been released, all indications were that this was a promising product worth evaluating.
Second Round - Testing:
We identified 18 additional attributes (for a total of 39) of the software to test and proceeded with our very unscientific method. With each application, we tried to reproduce our "benchmark" web page on University-supported platforms. After testing as many of the 46 criteria as practical with the benchmark page, we continued with further testing of each attribute individually.
The Results Chart
The results of our testing are represented graphically using a scale of one to four smiley faces. Although we could have simply provided checkmarks based on whether a product did or did not offer a specific feature, we found that there were significant differences in the look and feel of the products and the ease with which certain features were available. This scale is our attempt to represent the following:
While reviewing test results, please keep in mind that these ratings are both subjective and qualitative. Four smiley faces generally represents an easy-to-use feature that did what we thought it would and didn't do anything we didn't want. For further understanding about why a product got a specific rating, please look at the comments that accompany each criterion.
This was a tough call - very tough - with the final tally being 124 to 111 smiley faces. Both Dreamweaver and GoLive are excellent and represent lots of hard work by companies and teams of developers clearly committed to their products and approach. Both products excel in file management, vendor support and some areas of general HTML development. Each product deserves careful consideration and we recommend that you carefully assess your abilities, other software you use and your needs before purchasing either product.
Dreamweaver, however, excelled in certain areas we felt to be more important to our core audience. For folks who use web products less than half of their time at work, we felt that a user interface with a gentle learning curve was critical. Although both products are usable out-of-the-box, general consensus was that the Dreamweaver interface was less confusing and more straightforward. GoLive's interface is certainly consistent with other Adobe products - and may be more appropriate for those who use Adobe exclusively - but overall the "hit the ground running" time for Dreamweaver, we believe, will be shorter.
Several specific features raised particular concerns as well. The interface for frames in GoLive was extremely confusing for even some experienced web developers in our group. The Dreamweaver interface was much simpler and allowed for editing within the construct of the frameset.
persons on campus develop or maintain simple documents using tables. We
found that Dreamweaver worked much more like other productivity software in
allowing the user to select and modify columns, rows and multiple cells in a
According to manufacturer specifications, Dreamweaver has fewer hardware requirements on both Macintosh and Windows platforms, which must also be a consideration for departments with limited hardware-upgrade budgets.
At $99.00 for the academic version, we believe Dreamweaver Version 3 will be an excellent choice for HTML authoring at Penn and recommend that ISC support this product.
Information Systems and Computing
University of Pennsylvania
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