Web Easy promises that anyone can use it to create Web sites and even a complete novice can create and publish a page in less than an hour. With only a few qualifiers this is absolutely true.
Web Easy promises that anyone can use it to create Web sites and even a complete novice can create and publish a page in less than an hour. With only a few qualifiers this is absolutely true. The product is solidly aimed at people new to the Internet and Web page design. Web Easy doesn't teach how to design pages from an HTML (code) perspective, but uses a simple drag-and-drop format to put together a straightforward site.
The manual is brief but to the point. HTML gets about a paragraph, and there is no information on how to climb down into the coding of a Web page. IXLA is to be congratulated for taking out information that confuses novices - word processing packages don't explain their code (that makes words bold for example) and it's long past the time that this should be hidden for new Web developers.
When first starting Web Easy you are provided with an Activity Guide. This contains links to online help, a tutorial that helps users through the process of creating a page and an option to import graphics from a scanner or digital camera. Most importantly, it links to the core features of creating a Web page from a template, from scratch, or opening an existing Web site. Finally, there is the option to publish your site to the Internet. The optional Website Assistant makes going through all these processes very simple.
There is a menu at the top containing key areas that users will need to develop their pages. 'Home' allows the creation of new pages, previewing pages in the default Web browser and saving/publishing sites. 'Image' allows the import and alteration of images, special effects, stencils, frames and rotation or flipping. 'Text' allows the modification of any text characteristics, while 'Edit' includes standard cut/copy/paste and redo/undo and 'Link' controls linking items on the page to other Webpages in a very user friendly fashion. Finally, 'Page' allows modifications to the size or background of the page template. Additional controls allow you to move between site pages, zoom in, or get instant help.
Web Easy has over 50 different templates for business, information, school and personal use; each with its own layout. The easiest way to get started is to pick one and replace the text and graphics with your own. Graphics can be dragged and dropped from a toolbar at the bottom of the screen. You can either use your own pictures, or one of Web Easy's 50,000 clipart images (all shown in a hefty book). Simply clicking on a text box and typing the changes modifies text while background and other features (such as links) in the templates can also be easily altered.
Beginning a Web page from scratch is almost as easy but it helps to have some graphic design tools to create or modify custom images for your Web site. Publishing a site to the Internet is accomplished through a series of simple Wizard screens and is focused on delivering the pages to your ISP and not to a free Web hosting site such as Geocities.
The HTML code written by the program is very clean and complies with the HTML 2.0 standard (supported by Internet Explorer 3 and Netscape Navigator 3 as well as the more recent browsers) with tables used for layout purposes. Web Easy is clearly a beginner's product. There is no way to add additional functions, as supported by Microsoft FrontPage or Hotdog from Sausage Software, and no support for viewing and editing the HTML code.
There is also no support for features such as frames or style sheets, although animated GIFs are supported and it is possible to write HTML code into text areas and have them work properly in the final site. Web Easy has some difficulties in keeping graphic sizes down, and when text is allowed to overlap images Web Easy turns the text box into an image. Therefore it's easy to create pages that are visually elegant but slow to view.
Overall Web Easy supports small and basic Web sites best - for larger and more complex ones it's a better idea to look at a higher end package and some design training. For the area Web Easy is aimed at - the total novice - the program is a great way to develop magnificent looking Web sites fast. If on the other hand, you already have some experience it may be better to look for a more advanced program.
This Review appeared in the December, 1999 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine