The Little Web Cam Book


Use a Multimedia Authoring Tool or HTML?
Sept 17, 1999


Q: I am planning on a project that will have up to 200 pages of text and images that are word linked (hypertext). I was worried about the confusion of working with so many HTML pages at once. I was wondering if a authoring program like Director 7 or ToolBook II, would make my job any easier? Would switching to a Mac help?


A: What tool are you using to edit the HTML? If you are going to create a "site" with hundreds of pages then you definitely want to look at a WYSIWYG editing tool that has some site management functions in it. Look at Dreamweaver from Macromedia for example. Also, Adobe's new GoLive 4 (which is now also available for Windows.) I think FrontPage has site management functions as well.

The functions (I think) you need to look for are related to management of links and searching through multiple source files at the same time. As an example, I use Claris HomePage 3 at the moment and it has a site overview function which will check the links of all the pages and search across multiple pages automatically.

I do not believe that ToolBook or Director would make your life easier. Rather, I think it would make your life harder. If you're going to look at either, look at ToolBook because it lets you create a semi "database" where you can have pages with fields that contain your text. Creating a book in Director is harder and more awkward.

Admittedly I haven't used ToolBook since version 1 or 2, so maybe it has new tools that make what you are doing even easier, but in the version I used you would have to create a master form with your layout (the background and a field for text.) Then you would put in the text. If you want to flow the text across multiple pages you either have to do this manually, or write a routine to do it for you - unless you're planning to write the text in ToolBook, which I don't think makes sense. After entering the text you would add graphics (probably as thumbnails beside the text which expand to show the image.) Merging graphics can be harder than HTML (which is not easy itself) because I don't believe you can put graphics into a text field.

That being said, ToolBook would let you create complex interactive experiences much easier than HTML (but is that what you are trying to create?) You should try and see a demo of ToolBook just in case it's added tools that make this kind of thing much easier.

You should definitely switch to a Mac :)! But I can't really think of any tool that would make the task easier that is Mac only.

From your description it sounds like what you want to do fits perfectly with HTML, so why switch? There are reasons to think of other tools; interactivity, a measure of copyright protection (it's easier for someone to take some HTML text, than to copy from locked text fields in a ToolBook project) and it's a little easier to create complex layouts. But HTML is relatively easy to work with (the new HTML editors are practically as good as a word processor) and I think would do the job.


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