Web publishing is this year's Big Thing. Everyone's doing it, from multinational corporations competing to produce the slickest Web sites, to home users who just want to share their (often quite bizarre) interests with whomever happens to be surfing by.
The pages of information that make up the World Wide Web are written in a programming language called HTML (hypertext mark-up language). HTML is complex, and until recently, the small circle of gurus who understood HTML had a virtual monopoly on designing Web pages.
That changed earlier this year, when Adobe Systems released a program called PageMill. This replaced HTML's programming codes with a graphical interface similar to that of a word processor or desktop publishing program. It allows you to format text by selecting options from a menu, and to position pictures by using the computer's mouse to move them around.
Even though it was only available for Macintosh computers, PageMill sold 30,000 copies within weeks of its launch. Now rival software companies are falling over themselves to produce their own graphical Web-editing programs.
Netscape, whose Navigator is the standard program for viewing the pages of the World Wide Web, has added an editing module to the latest version of Navigator.
Claris, the software division of Apple Computer, is rushing to finish its Home Page design program, while Macromedia has just launched a whole range of programs under the "Backstage" name. Half a dozen other editors from lesser-known companies are also due to appear by the end of the year.
Home Page is similar to PageMill, but has the advantage of being available for both Mac and PC. BackStage is currently available for PC only, but is available in four different versions. The basic BackStage Designer allows you to create simple pages containing just text and graphics, while the top-of-the-range BackStage Studio can add interactive features such as discussion groups, e-mail and forms that can take sales orders by connecting to company databases.
These basic editing programs are aimed at home users or designers who simply need to lay out a few pages for their corporate clients. …