Mac Web programs begin covering Windows
by Alan Zisman
(c) 1997. First
published in Computer Player, November 1997
Adobe PageMill version 2.0 $99 US
requires Windows 95/NT, 486, 8 megs ram, 10 megs hard
Adobe Systems Inc 145 King St West Suite 1000
Toronto, Ontario Canada M5H 3X6
tel (416) 360-2317 fax (416) 360-2917
Symantec Visual Page $99 US
requires Windows 95/NT, 486/66, 8-12 megs ram, 3-18
megs hard drive
Symantec Corporation, 10201 Torre Avenue
Cupertine, CA 95014
tel (408) 253-9600
There are urban myths? stories that get repeated over
and over, gaining
power with each repetition, although no one can actually attest to
truthfulness. The baby alligators, flushes down New York City toilets,
and thriving in the sewers, for example.
Computer folklore has its own share of urban myths.
Bill Gates purportedly
saying: ?640 kilobytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody? for
More recently, ?75% (or some other high number) of all Web pages have
designed on Macs?. Maybe it?s true?it?s certainly appeared enough times
in the media. (I would like somebody to show me the research that the
is based on, however).
Whether that claim is true or not, it?s certainly been
the case that
just as in the field of graphics and design, the coolest Web-design
have tended to appear on the Mac platform first. But with the shrinkage
of the Mac market, and fears for Apple?s very survival, software
companies seem to be feverishly working away to make sure that their
Mac-only products are now available to the PC/Windows market as well.
I?ve been spending time with two Web page design
products, both ported
over from the Mac environment, and both released in new Windows
at about the same time: Adobe PageMill and Symantec Visual Page.
Web pages are written in HTML?HyperText Markup
Language? text, with
notations enclosed in angle-brackets about how the text should appear.
As such, a skilled HTML author needs very little in the way of tools? a
simple text editor like Windows Notepad or the Mac?s SimpleText could
But the rest of us are happier with some help. As a result, the Web
has seen a parallel explosion in tools aiming to simplify the creation
of Web pages. Some are glorified text editors, with toolbar icons or
commands for common HTML formatting commands.
For many users, the Holy Grail of Web page design has
been the seemingly
unobtainable?a program like a desktop publishing program, but for Web
HTML is limited?it?s not easy to specify exact fonts and sizes, or
placement of graphics, for example?not when you want your page to be
to display on all sorts of computers. Even viewing the same page on the
same computer in two different browsers can lead to surprises.
In many ways, PageMill and Visual Page have a lot in
common. Both were
first released on the Mac, and are now available in Windows versions as
well. Both attempt to give the Web page designer a desktop
experience. Both try to support the HTML 3.2 standard features and
such as Java applets and frames. Both even sell for the same ($99 US)
In fact, in some ways, choosing between them is more a
question of taste
and style than of objective specifications or power. Either lets you
between an almost accurate, editable page view, an editable view of the
HTML source code, a non-editable more accurate page view, or viewing
page in the Web browser of your choice. (PageMill lets you view in more
than one browser?VisualPage makes you choose).
Either make it easy to create an attractive Web page,
quickly and easily,
but both require some fine tuning with the actual HTML code. For
neither provided an easy way to create borderless frames. And neither
tools to manage a larger, complicated Web site?tools which are included
in Microsoft?s Front Page, but as a result, make that product larger
more complicated to get accustomed to. (The Mac version of Adobe
works with a companion product, SiteMill for Web site management, but
is not yet available on the Windows side).
If forced to pick only one of these products, I would
lean towards Symantec?s
Visual Page by a slim margin. Its interface is more like all those
Windows products, with most features available from a toolbar icon, and
more standard right-click support. PageMill?s interface seems
quirky (though both products annoy me with dialogue boxes that lack the
standard OK and Cancel buttons?) As well, some pages that I?d made,
displayed fine in both Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet
simply refused to display in PageMill, while I could display and edit
in VisualPage. The PageMill package includes a limited version of Adobe
PhotoShop LE; Adobe?s graphics customers may prefer to continue to work
with that company?s products. Make up your own mind; try them both,
over the Web? www.symantec.com/trialware or
While you?re at it, check out www.claris.com for HomePage, a similar
product, soon to release version 3.0.
Professionals tend to scorn anything that makes Web
page design easier?
like power users who are more productive in DOS. But the rest of us
find that either of these products makes it easy to create attractive
feature-laden Web pages.