Presto Personal Page 3.0: Hits and Misses With Entry-Level Web Authoring
While companies duking it out at the high end of the Web authoring market get most of the attention, others are battling just as hard at the entry level. Presto Personal Page (NewSoft) is a WYSIWYG web editor aimed at authors who want attractive sites without spending big dollars. Its a promising product, even with its rough edges.
The Expected and the Unexpected
Presto has a lot of the expected features and a couple of surprises you generally find at the higher end. You do the usual thingsenter text, insert graphics, link pagesvia a straightforward mix of toolbar and menus; a palette lets you set attributes of some objects. Tables are convenient; for example, you can change their dimensions by dragging borders. Drag-&-Drop is well supported, both for creating links from the Finder and for moving text around the page. You can also drag links and bookmarks directly from Netscape. In short, the basics are smoothly done.
Frames are somewhat unevenly implemented. We readily split our windows either horizontally or vertically with a single click. Specifying a target frame from a link was particularly elegant; we highlighted a link, chose a menu item, and then clicked the target frame. However, when we wanted the target to be something other than the top window, we had to edit the HTML code. Nor could we insert an existing file into a frame.
Presto lets you preview multimedia from within the program; again, thats something generally found in more expensive programs. However, although we could view QuickTime and QuickDraw 3D files, we couldnt load Java applets because our machine was running a combination of OS 8 and Mac Runtime for Java 1.5 (the latest versions of both). NewSoft is working on a fix but says that previewing Java does work with System 7.6 and MRJ 1.2. (We didnt test that.)
Presto lacks high-end site management tools such as those that let you block out a sites structure and add content later. But it does have other useful functions. For example, when youre done authoring, Presto builds your site, ensuring that URLs have relative addresses ready for uploading. It lists any problems in a separate HTML page, with links to the errant files. Presto can also show a hierarchical picture of your site and generate a Table of Contents. Thats a good feature set.
Where Presto Needs Chango
Although Presto is aimed at least in part at novices, it lacks some features theyll need. For example, Presto is the only HTML editor weve used that couldnt create ordered or unordered lists, a common organizing tool. WYSIWYG text editing was balkywe had trouble selecting the last character on a line. Presto supports only GIFs and JPEGs, so users must themselves convert other formats before importing them. And Presto lacks a spell checker, forcing an extra step with another application.
While novices may not care about HTML, others do; theyll have to edit their source in SimpleText and then re-import it back into Presto. That slows workflow. Nor can you set a preference for another editorlike the popular BBEdit. If you like tweaking your HTML, look elsewhere.
Presto is a promising application, especially for users looking for inexpensive and convenient authoringespecially with multimedia. Although many of its features are welcome, enough gaps remain to warrant waiting for the next release.
Hits: Good value, previews multimedia without a browser
Misses: Several key features absent
NewSoft is at 3353 Gateway Blvd. Freemont CA 94538 Phone: (510) 445 8600; Fax (510) 445 8601