News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
First Look at GoLive CyberStudio By Brent Simmons, firstname.lastname@example.org.
GoLive CyberStudio: http://www.golive.com/
I recently used GoLive CyberStudio (beta 35) to re-design my company's web site.
CyberStudio gives the appearance of being a deep product, including site management features, a tag database, outline view, and more. However, I can't comment on these features as I was using it simply to design a new template. So I'll limit my comments to CyberStudio's GUI page editor.
Part of the reason I haven't explored the site management features is that I use Frontier for web site management.
Though I'm a Frontier user, I haven't yet explored CyberStudio's scriptability.
Cool, it's like Quark Xpress
CyberStudio's page editor reminded me of the first piece of Macintosh software I ever used, Quark XPress.
It was a lot like designing a page for print, in that I could create text boxes and place them freely on the page. Images and other objects could go anywhere.
It took me a moment to realize that I could place a grid on my page, and set objects to snap-to-grid or not, change the grid size, and so on. Then I could place things anywhere.
This is very different than working than with Claris Home Page, Symantec Visual Page, and other html editors. With CyberStudio, I could forget about html and just think about creating a well-designed page. To someone who's been thinking in html since 1994, this was a joy.
NetObjects Fusion also allows for free image, object, and text placement, but I don't like Fusion's interface at all. It may be trite to say, but it's true: Fusion (as of 1.0) is not Mac-like. An usual interface tends to get in the way of my work. For instance, I don't like any application that tries to take over my entire screen, as Fusion does.
Another place where CyberStudio differs from Fusion: Fusion saves pages in its own format, where CyberStudio saves pages in html. There is no need to convert a page to html (Fusion calls this 'publishing') -- it's already in html.
One thing this means is that I can preview my page in my browser at any time, which I often found myself doing.
This to me represents a fundamentally different approach than the one Fusion takes. CyberStudio can be integrated into my already-existing work patterns. It doesn't force me into an entirely new system -- though it does appear to offer, if one wants to use it, a complete site management system.
To CyberStudio's credit, its pages as viewed in both Netscape 3.0 and MSIE 3.0b1 looked identical to the pages as viewed in CyberStudio's preview mode. This is not true with the other editors -- Pagemill, Home Page, and Visual Page -- that I have experience with.
CyberStudio's generated html, when viewed as source, was complex and hard to follow. That was the case with Fusion, too, and entirely to be expected with any editor that allows for free object placement.
There's no doubt about it -- many compelling designs stretch html, and I find it hard to fault CyberStudio for doing what I ask it to do. Html purists and minimalists will not want to use CyberStudio.
Still thinking in html
After a few hours of playing around, and some detours into Photoshop, I eventually designed a template I liked. I could have come up with a design much faster, but I was having fun.
I glanced at the CyberStudio-generated html and decided that I would be better off simply looking at a preview of the page I'd designed and creating the html myself.
I was able to hand-create (using Frontier's outliner) my template with two tables, both with three columns, both with only one row. This is simpler than CyberStudio's html, but then my page didn't match CyberStudio's exactly. Not to the pixel, anyway, which was fine with me.
This proves that as I was designing I was, in the back of my mind, thinking of a page that could easily be implemented by hand, and is not a criticism of CyberStudio.
Surface scratched, what next?
CyberStudio is pretty easy to get in to. On the surface, there's a great page-layout program, which takes only a couple minutes to get familiar with. But there appears to be so much more to it that a real review will have to wait until I can spend many more hours with it.
As for myself, I don't plan to use most of CyberStudio's site management features, as I manage my sites in Frontier. But that doesn't diminish the value of its page editor, which I like much more than any I've seen.
I'm sure there are other features I'll get around to using -- CyberStudio's outliner, its tags database, and so on -- and I hope that these are as well done as the page editor.
It's beta software
In the eight hours or so I've spent in CyberStudio, it crashed me into MacsBug twice. I'm a compulsive saver (comes from being a compulsive beta tester) so this didn't do any more than annoy me. This is beta software, after all.
I'd note that two times in MacsBug in eight hours is good on any day in which I'm running a web browser.
If you're into page design, I'd say check it out.
Though CyberStudio appears to offer an all-in-one solution, it doesn't preclude a many-application solution, which is important to people whose work style involves many applications, each doing what they do best.
If you're curious about the site I created with CyberStudio, see: