Making Waves with Authoring Software

Article excerpt

One of the alluring things about the World Wide Web is that it's not only easy to navigate, it's also quite simple to publish material for it. The Web's native language, hypertext markup language, or HTML, is nothing more than a text file with special coding added to create hypertext links, inline graphics (images woven into a page) and a variety of special features and effects-ranging from interesting backgrounds to online forms for handling data. Although most Web publishing has been done on the UNIX platform in the past, Windows-based tools now are becoming mainstream.

If you want to publish your own pages on the Web, you have two choices: learn HTML or locate a program that converts or creates HTML files for you. Today, the latter choice makes far more sense. A variety of HTML programs exist -from full-featured software that costs a couple hundred dollars to shareware and freeware available for download from the Internet. Although all can get the job done, there are significant differences in how such programs work and what capabilities they offer.

One of the most powerful and versatile programs is HoTMetaL Pro ($195; SoftQuad Inc., 800/387-2777; http:// www.sq.com), which offers excellent editing power and the functionality of an advanced Windows word-processing program. HoTMetaL Pro can import from virtually any word processing program, and it offers completely customizable templates so you can build a homepage or an entire site from the ground up. It also offers a preview function so that you can check on your work as you go. However, HoTMetaL Pro requires a good deal of expertise in HTML; it's aimed at the professional, high-volume Web author.

Another program that offers a solid array of features is HTML Assistant Pro ($100; Brooklyn North Software Works, 800/349-1422; http://Fox. …