HoTMetaL PRO 6.0 - HTML with Style
I've never been against the concept of an HTML editor. HTML was never really intended to be written by the average person. Indeed, knowledge of HTML should not be a prerequisite for authoring Web pages. In theory. In an ideal world. Maybe. Perhaps.
Why is authoring Web pages without knowledge of HTML impossible today? For two reasons: First, because you need to be aware of a million different tricks, bugs, incompatibilities and general quirks. That is, if you want to create an HTML document that is valid, informative, useful, beautiful and a lot of other adjectives that we all wish people would exclaim when visiting Web sites, instead of the usual grunts and moans ("Ugh! Look at that yellow color!" "Eek! Stop that blinking!" "Yuck! Hand this guy some crayons and let him vent his 'creativity'." "Woah... This layout is making me dizzy!" etc.). Some of these quirks, such as color choices, are down to the individual. Others, such as accessibility, are largely a result of well-written code. And if you don't write the code directly, the authoring program should do it for you.
The second reason is related to issues such as accessibility, and that is that most WYSIWYG HTML editors are, well, WYSIWYG. The problem with the Web is that What You See might be What You Get, but it's not What The Other Guy Gets. The reasons for this are simple, and they have nothing to do with limitations. The fact that Web pages look different for every one of us is the beauty of the Web. The trick is not to make them look the same, but to make them mean the same thing. You can't just use Microsoft Word to create a document and then select "Save as HTML..." and be done with it. When you're creating a document in Microsoft Word, you're creating a document that is meant to be printed or viewed on a screen as if it were printed. Word processors don't really handle information; they handle images, even though these images might be made up mostly of text. HTML documents are about information.
Last week I reviewed another product by SoftQuad, XMetaL 1.0. XMetaL, for me, has the right idea: It allows someone knowledgeable to set up the program so that someone with no knowledge of XML/SGML or the document type can create a document. The emphasis is not on the document looking like it will when it's viewed, but on allowing the person creating the document to understand what each element means.
XMetaL required a lot of customization by system administrators because creating an XML or SGML document depends largely on the document type. A newspaper article will be very different from a scientific report or a product catalog. With HTML, things are different: the syntax and semantics of HTML documents are well known. So, a program can be set up to allow the user to create a solid document based on information, and allow him to control the presentation through CSS.
Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: November 03, 1999
Revised: November 16, 1999