Softpress Freeway 5.5 review
Price: $229 (£145)
Pros: Fast site prototyping; built-in image editing; advanced interactivity.
Cons: No HTML editing; defaults to table-based layouts.
Reviewing Freeway brings back fond memories. It was the first, fully WYSIWYG Web authoring tool for the Mac and we remember using it at version 1 – and all the versions in between. What we don’t remember, though, is using it to build serious websites. The reason for this is that Freeway is aimed at people who don’t like coding. Not even HTML. In fact, even in version 5.5, there’s no way to edit the code behind your page. You can insert snippets of HTML, just like you can insert images, text and Action Items, but until Freeway publishes your site, there’s no code to edit. Instead, you get a layout environment that’ll be familiar if you’ve ever used a desktop publishing package like Pages.
There are advanced tools built in. The aforementioned Action Items option enables you to place all kinds of dynamic content, from Flash Video players to Google Maps to ready configured navigation tools. You can even create fully functioning shopping cart sites without dipping into a single line of code.
This update has several new features. The main software now comes bundled with Showcase, a tool for making slideshows and image galleries. The Relative Page Layout Action in the Pro version enables you to transform layouts with absolute CSS positioning into relative, more fluid designs.
The real proof of Freeway’s power is the code it produces. We looked at a published site in Coda. First, CSS rules are embedded by default. This isn’t a cardinal sin, but it does move away from W3C guidelines calling for the separation of form and content. It’s clean enough, though – with readable and human-editable code and attribute names.