|Well, it's taken me so long to get into the Hot Dog 3.0 interface that Hot Dog 4.5 is out. Oh, well.|
Hot Dog is an editor for web-heads, not end-users. If you find that you are using notepad to do your web pages, and need something just a smidge more helpful, then this is for you.
Hot Dog has the usual menu bars at the top, by default an HTML properties list down one side of the screen, and assorted views of functions down the other. By default it also has your preferred browser view of the code under your text entry window.
There is something very raw and controlling about writing and designing blind. For average, boring, pages, or those sites where the developers are used to developing graphics with x-y-z co-ordinates, then creating tables and inserting and sizing graphics strictly by the numbers, notepad is fine. For those who want more functionality, multiple files, project management, and some point-and-shoot functionality, there are more 'intelligent' editing programs.
WYSIWYG vs HTML/ASCII editors
I find that WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) comes into its own when one is making up pages with columns and graphical
content. Sizing and layout are fastest with a best screen and a good combination of drag-and-click and precise keyboard commands. So far, I haven't
found a good WYSIWYG editor, they all look promising, but lack real functionality. (Don't talk to me about using Word or WordPerfect --
I've tried them. WordPerfect looks really peculiar during the editing, and Word screws up the pages, especially the meta tags. And everyone with any
experience in user-land knows Word sucks big ones in the Tables department.|
So, here I am, actually writing this page in notepad, but using Hot Dog to clean up my site. I have to, I did some testing on my live site with Corel's Web.Master and corrupted almost every single document. Web.Master has a global find and replace with some nasty side effects. Hot Dog has a less 'friendly' interface, and some peculiarities of its own, but seems to be less destructive.
HotDog Pro 4.5|
Check out the screem dump.
The HTML properties 'window' is bloody useful for those of us who try to have lives outside of HTML bun fights, it provides a list of HTML tags, and once you start typing the tags, you can see the options available for them, including which versions of HTML support them, which browsers, and praise be, the palette for convenient selection of colours.
HTML within your document window can be colour-coded, which is useful, and if you have an incomplete tag, one with incorrect syntax, that entire tag is highlighted. Of course, to my eyes, it appears to be current, and I keep finding myself in the wrong bloody place, but it is still a necessary function and I'm living with it.
The macros function is not a programming function, it is basically a 'glossary'/'autotext' function with the added perk of having before selected text and after selected text, so it's great for inserting frequently used text or your favourite tag settings.
The only thing that offended me here, apart from the name, was that the user cannot select a location for all the macros and when I inadvertently de-installed HotDog 4.5 I lost all my carefully crafted macros. (SCREEECH!)
|Similarly, templates are an also-ran. They are a range of blank HTML files that you can use to build pages from. They have no smarts of themselves, they can't interrogate you for, say page title, keywords, etc, as you create the page, and they can't be set for particular projects (web sites).|
At least not that I could see.
Huge, HUGE ANGRINESS Alert
Yep, once again, take for granted that I have made a tirade against fools and villains who think that we don't need any paper documentation. Documentation is good. Documentation is our friend. Documentation is our map to the product. Documentation helps us orientate ourselves, to understand the purpose of the product and to being the process of learning to use it. Bloody context-sensitive help is a damn secret-handshake club and DOES NOT meet quality assurance guidelines.
Ali's Rule #1
If you can't write simple, straightforward, coherent instructions and descriptions of your product -- it SUCKS and needs to be fixed.
This is also rule #3, #5 #13, #15, #17, and #23.
There are several 'wizards' in 4.5, including walk-throughs for creating frames and tables, as well as help in inserting and editing image tags. Be aware, however, that they don't always give you the dimensions of your image (which makes downloads faster), and they do odd previews, and default to one BORDER size (0). I would much prefer that there are two default settings, one for images that are clickable but not image maps. I have to remember to manually go back and change the BORDER.
Don't let anyone tell you BORDERs are messy, BORDERs FRAME your image and bring attention to it, so for clickable images, this is VERY important indeed.
One thing you will need to do is download the supertools, those useful add-ins that include such ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY functions as the multiple search-and-replace. This tool is frustrating in that it sort of supports multiple levels of subdirectories. I have been able to select each and every directory under the website directory on my hard drive, but not the actual directory itself (urgh?)|
The developers were very proud of their support of Dynamic HTML effects, and have spent a lot of time testing to ensure compliance with both Netscape and Microsoft Internet Explorer.
Once nice function that I appreciate is the ability to hit a button and see the file one is working on in the browser window, without saving. However (sigh) the temporary files are NOT cleaned-up by HotDog and the bloody things breed. A bit the same as backup files, which if you don't watch out can end up all over the place. I'd like to see a nice little sniffer that you can select as automatic or manual to run through your hard drive version of the website and wipe out backup files and temp files.
Similarly, I'd appreciate version control during install that asks if you want to kill off the previous version and write over it. And, if you prefer a menu option which deinstalls previous versions when you're happy, or reverses out of the upgrade. Even Microsoft does this now with their Encyclopedia.
So, yes, if you're Windows 95 and want to work in HTML, this is a sturdy and often helpful product to use.
Minimum Specs are:
IBM Compatible PC
486 or higher
Windows 95/NT 4.0
16 Mb Ram
Recommended Specs are:
IBM Compatible PC
Windows 95/NT 4.0
32 Mb Ram (to use IE4 as the internal browser)
Upgrade: Free to all HD4 users and $50 from any previous version of HotDog. Note also that all HD4 users will be notified of the upgrade in the AutoDownloader (this upgrade install is less than half the size of the full web-based download so they should look for this option first). To purchase/download a copy online, http://www.sausage.com.
|I would be interested in reader's views on HTML editors and web page design programs.|
|For information about this product, contact Sausage Software|