Re: HTML Editors

Subject: Re: HTML Editors
From: Jack Shaw <jsh -at- SOFTWARE-AG -dot- DE>
Date: Sat, 9 Mar 1996 16:34:44 -0800

I've made extensive use of both HoTMetaL (as long as I
could stand it...) and HotDog, and I gave HTML Assistant
a try.

There is a tendency amongst these things to try and isolate
the user from HTML. Now, I don't think HTML is all that
difficult, so that kind of isolation is needless to my way of
thinking. HoTMetaL uses cute tags (although you don't have to...),
and seems to insist on anticipating what I want to do next.
But its biggest drawback for me is, it won't cleanly call the browser
to preview your work. And, it doesn't accept files with names
beginning with special characters...a minor point, but that
violates MS-DOS file naming conventions and can hinder you if
you're processing lots of "legacy" info. with such
problem. I did appreciate HoTMetaL's WORD-to-HTML filter, although
it took every preformatted code example (which should be
set within <PRE>...</PRE> tags) and made headings of every line!

But I've never met a filter yet that I like...

HotDog, on the other hand, doesn't try and get cute. It assumes
that you're willing to live with learning HTML. Almost all of
these editors have on-demand syntax checkers that work somewhat...
they're not foolproof by any means--the last released version of
HotDog, 2.097, lost it's ability to flag an error with the cursor,
which the earlier 2.081 would do.

But I like HotDog's online help, which seems to be adapted from S.
LaHunte's tool. Also, I find the people at HotDog/Sausage Software
to be very responsive and helpful. Not the case at SoftQuad (HoTMetaL),
who in my view have difficulty identifying with the difficulties of
new users.

But as I mentioned elsewhere, I'm handling a humunguous bunch of stuff
that has to be available both in printed and on-line/intranet form. So
I'm finding myself looking for a web manager such as Cyberleaf or
FrontPage to not only do HTML but also to keep about 200 pages X 4
versions, straight. A trend is for HTML to be generated from other source
"on the fly"; that is, the HTML is no longer "hardwired" into the
material, but instead plugged in as the material moves through the (ugh)
filter or converter. Obviously, you are going to lose a measure of
control over the presentation (but then, when had you that?), but you can
theoretically update the info., print it conventionally for books, and
still present it online via HTML. Any links are apparently replaced with
encapsulated keys or whatever in the printable/editable source, but
become visible via a cataloging mechanism when you shove it through the
filter-converter for online viewing. The wonder tool keeps track of
all hope.

And most of these manager thingies claim that you can use your tried-
and-true HTML editor, if you choose. But if you're looking to do big
things, you might want to investigate these more sophisticated (read,
complicated) tools. You're into document management with this stuff...
and that might have to fit a much larger scheme, making the need for
a stand-alone HTML editor needless. Like always, you're supposed to
know what you have to do before you start doing it...good luck.

My, don't we just ramble on...


Jack Shaw
My co. and I have agreed to disagree except on one point: we speak to,
but not for, each other.

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