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Evaluation of Allaire's HomeSite 4.0

The following is my evaluation of HomeSite as it would pertain to a non-developer audience. First, I've listed some of the Pros and Cons that I noticed throughout my 30 day evaluation period. Next, I've included the buying guide from the HomeSite web site (http://www.allaire.com/). Finally, I've ranked this product as it pertains to the intended audience.

Below are some of the Pros and Cons I felt most strongly about when reviewing this product. They are not listed in any particular order.

Pros   Cons
  • Extended replace is very powerful. Nice for multi-file replacements like contact emails, tag properties, and generally repeated content.
  • Auto tag surround on highlighted text is a nice feature to expedite editing capabilities.
  • Spell checker is above average and uses both English (MS Office 95) and HTML dictionaries.
  • Code validation protocol is fair: it can have issues with mixed coding standards (i.e. HTML4.0 versus HTML 3.2 etc.).
  • Able to create/use templates for pre-formatted designs.
  • Easy to use Projects to keep central theme pages together
  • Code snippets of commonly occurring code are easily inserted into any page.
  • Toolbars are customizable
  • Has a link tree viewer to see what pages are linked to the active page
  • Has limited JavaScript support
 
  • Does not translate content to tables and lists very well: every line becomes a row.
  • Does not support frames in Design mode. Can also trick you into saving over other loaded files when trying to edit frames.
  • Going though FTP mode may destroy server includes.
  • Does not have extended cleanup/sweep function.
  • Slows down on large (over 50kb) files.
  • Upload feature in Projects starts from root directory every time a project is uploaded.
  • Link tree cannot be copied/transferred to any other media for viewing outside of HomeSite.
 
How to Buy HomeSite 4.0
There are two versions of HomeSite 4.0, an electronic version at $89 and a packaged version at $99. The packaged version includes a CD-ROM and a printed User Guide. In the electronic version, the User Guide is in HTML within HomeSite. The HomeSite 4.0 Upgrade is available as an electronic download and on CD-ROM (electronic user manual). I've talked to Chris Elsmore, their Education liaison, and he relayed the following information (also available through their web site). One thing not mentioned on the web was the single-site licensing. We would need Dan Glavin to review that information.
 
Product SKU Price
HomeSite 4.0 Electronic HS-40ELE-NT-US 89
HomeSite 4.0 Packaged HS-40-PKG-NT-US 99
HomeSite 4.0 Ten Pack HS-40M10-NT-US 750
HomeSite 4.0 Fifty Pack HS-40M50-NT-US 3500
HomeSite 4.0 Upgrade Electronic UPG-HS3XE-HS40E 29
HomeSite 4.0 Upgrade CD-ROM UPG-HS3XP-HS40P 39
They offer a 20% government/education discount.
 
Alliance Partner Allaire's Educational Representative
DPC Group, Inc.
1701 River Run Road, Suite 1113
Fort Worth, TX 76107
Attn: Jennifer Crawford
817.870.9977
817.870.0191
mixg@dpcgroup.com
http://www.dpcgroup.com
Chris Elsmore
617.761.2146
http://commerce.allaire.com/
 
Intended Audience
I would rank this product as easy to slightly less than moderate difficulty to learn for the non-developer. My learning curve was about 1-2 weeks; perhaps 2-3 weeks would prove adequate for a non-developer to grasp the essentials of HomeSite.

As for usefulness, I think it would have limited functionality for users who would want to do more than just edit content. It is a good page starter and text editor, but beyond simple HTML it has some short falls especially using the FTP features. For example, a Java applet was routinely lost when I tried to edit a page with one applet on it. I didn't touch the applet with HomeSite nor did it seem to be affected in any way when viewed through Notepad, but when the page was saved with the FTP feature, the applet refused to work. This may or may not be a bug that Allaire is working on, but it does get in the way of some functions of the program.

So, in summary, HomeSite can be a powerful baseline HTML editor for non-developers. If a newer, purchased version has additional features not seen on the evaluation copy then perhaps it would be a wise investment. It certainly has received rave reviews from popular technology media. Additionally, it works in concert with Allaire's ColdFusion which has the interest of other CIS developers.