HoTMetaL PRO 6.0 - HTML with Style | 8
Assets are HoTMetaL's way of adding pre-fab stuff to your document. HoTMetaL comes with a bunch of Assets, that can be accessed via the Resource Manager window, and can do interesting things. Some of these assets come from WebReference.com, the most prominent example being DHTML Lab's Hierarchical Menus. You can just select the appropriate Asset from the Resource Manager, create your menus using Peter's interactive tool, and then drag the menus to your document. It's nice, but again, you have to know what you're doing. To illustrate what I mean, here's an example: Say you're an HTML novice working in WYSIWYG mode. You select the Hierarchical Menus Asset, create a menu, drag it to your document, and a script is automatically inserted in your document HEAD, as well as a link that actually launches the menu. Deciding you've changed your mind, you delete the link, but the script is still there, invisible to you. I don't think any HTML editor will ever be able to act intelligently enough to avoid such situations, which is why I believe things such as HoTMetaL's WYSIWYG mode are a bad, bad idea.
Assets allow you to insert objects into your documents easily. [Full-sized image]
HoTMetaL is built around a complete and compliant SGML system. This a Good Thing. All documents have a DTD, and can be validated against it at any time. All view modes except HTML Source mode make sure that your document remains valid while you're editing as well, so it's really hard to create invalid documents using HoTMetaL. If you do, or if you load an invalid document, HoTMetaL is pretty good at helping you correct your mistakes in a consistent manner.
Of course, being valid is a relative thing. The default DTD used to validate HTML documents is not an official one from the W3C or ISO, but SoftQuad's own DTD which contains many non-standard proprietary Microsoft and Netscape extensions. Additionally, I found it difficult to change the DTD of a document; the only way I could find was changing the declaration in HTML Source mode. You can select a DTD when you create a document, but not easily change it after that. Again, an indication that you need to know your stuff to use HoTMetaL correctly.
HoTMetaL can also check your document for accessibility. It checks for a few standard things, but won't go too far. Good knowledge of HTML and issues of accessibility and good design are still required to create good documents. However, it's a good effort overall.
When correcting accessiblity problems, HoTMetaL explains the problem. [Full-sized image]
One of the most useful features of HoTMetaL is its ability to group a bunch of documents into a "Project." Doing this allows you to do various helpful things, such as checking to see if links are broken, but the most important function is that HoTMetaL can automatically upload your documents via FTP to a Web server. You can also tell HoTMetaL the correspondance between URLs and files on your hard disk, to a limited degree, so you can have a relative URL that begins with a slash, and HoTMetaL won't look for it in your hard drive's root directory. This feature is incredibly useful and allows easy previewing at the touch of a button of the actual Web page, not just the corresponding file on your disk. This was something I found incredibly useful.
Produced by Stephanos Piperoglou
Created: November 03, 1999
Revised: November 16, 1999