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Learning Lab

GoLive Gets Interesting

by Derrick Story

Adobe recently released GoLive 6.0 for Windows and Macintosh. The current incarnation of this venerable Web design and management tool is unique to Adobe offerings because it incorporates a number of "tweakable" open source components within an integrated publishing environment.

GoLive 6 features a robust workgroup server; support for common scripting languages such as ASP, JSP, and PHP; drag-and-drop WML authoring for mobile devices; MySQL database for dynamic sites; Apache Web server; and a tighter JavaScript code generator for rollovers and other dynamic goodies.

Even though I've personally followed the evolution of GoLive for years, I haven't covered this application much on the O'Reilly sites because it wasn't "tuned" for the readership. This is changing. Much in the same way that Apple has opened up its operating system to the general developer community, Adobe seems to be moving in that direction with GoLive. Developers can build sites from the ground up in this application and apply their own tools to augment GoLive's built-in functionality. Or they can import their existing sites without destroying their previous hard work (Can you say "clean code?") to take advantage of GoLive's sophisticated array of options.

At the risk of jumping ahead too quickly, I'll say that I've discovered many interesting nooks and crannies in version 6 of this application, and I've mapped out a series of articles covering the areas most important to Web professionals. I'm going to start at the beginning just in case you might not be familiar with the GoLive experience, but soon you'll be tapping the advanced scripting and open source tools built into this complex application.

Before popping the hood and monkeying with the dynamic Web tools, however, I want to recap a little GoLive history so you'll have some perspective on the evolution of this product. When you look back, it's really been a heck of a ride to this point.

A Brief History of GoLive

GoLive CyberStudio 2.0 first entered my radar screen at Seybold SF during the summer of 1997. GoLive was the company, and CyberStudio was its flagship product. CyberStudio was touted as a full-featured WYSIWYG HTML editor for the Mac. At a time when Apple was struggling to survive, CyberStudio was one of the premier applications that only ran on the Mac. The tagline was "The best way to design a Web site."

Over the next 18 months the product continued to grow in popularity, culminating in MacWorld magazine bestowing its 1998 Best Web Authoring Tool to CyberStudio 3.01, saying it "provides all the bells and whistles that Web authors need."

Vintage GoLive
The Web publishing world first saw GoLive in 1996 with "golive Pro." The tagline then? "The All-In-One Solution Web Publishing Tool."

What I didn't know back at Seybold '97 was that this application had already been through one evolution. Apparently the original product was called "golive Pro 1.1," produced by gonet Communications located in Menlo Park, Calif., and Hamburg Germany. On their 1996 Web site (www.golive.com) they say, "It is the first HTML editor suited to the professional who needs fast results, but also requires access to the latest HTML features. Built on an extensible architecture, golive Pro will continue to be enhanced at a pace that matches the evolving requirements of the Internet marketplace."

The system requirements for golive Pro 1.1 were a Macintosh or Power Macintosh running System 7.5 or later with a minimum of 4 MB free memory for the 68k version and 5 MB free memory for the PPC version.

In 1997, the product "golive Pro" became "CyberStudio," which was owned by a new organization, GoLive. The company decided to take their product on the road featuring energetic evangelist Greg Rewis. The product presentations during 1997 are legendary. Not only did Rewis (and Nick Hippe too, I believe) educate the audience about the power of CyberStudio, he inspired folks to go out and build their own Web sites. His presentations were the best thing I've seen since Guy Kawasaki graced a podium.

GoLive circa 1997
In 1997 GoLive became the company name and CyberStudio was their flagship product.

To give you an idea of how compelling Rewis was, I took my father to the 1998 Macworld SF and sat him down at the GoLive booth. Even though he didn't know one thing about Web publishing (or care for that matter), he thoroughly enjoyed the 30-minute presentation and talked about it for weeks afterward.

In January 1999 the next big announcement from GoLive was supposed to be their professional workgroup publishing system. But surprisingly, no mention of this long-awaited product was made at Macworld SF.

Instead, CyberStudio fans learned that Adobe had just acquired GoLive and its flagship HTML editor, which was now at version 3.01. Rewis didn't survive the transition and left a few weeks after Adobe took over. By the next Macworld, however, he was on stage again. This time pitching Dreamweaver for Macromedia.

Adobe dropped the CyberStudio moniker and dubbed the product, Adobe GoLive, reminiscent of the original title, golive Pro. The first Adobe release was version 4.0 in the spring of 1999. The most important change to the product was that it was no longer a Mac-only tool -- GoLive 4 ran on Windows as well.

Version 4.0 seemed to receive lots of scrutiny from the media and users. Even though it was a solid release, some people seemed to be looking for ways to cite that Abobe had "screwed up" their popular application. This seemed particularly true in Mac circles where loyal CyberStudio fans resented the fact that GoLive was now a Windows application too. Meanwhile, Macromedia's Dreamweaver was more popular than ever and seemed destined to secure the top position among complete HTML editors.

But Adobe wasn't about to concede the top spot yet and began adding innovations to this already capable application. One of my favorite Adobe enhancements to version 4 was the addition of the QuickTime editor. Not only could you author and manage Web pages, you could assemble QuickTime content to publish on those pages. Adobe made these additions without changing the existing price structure, and it even honored previous CyberStudio registrations and allowed those users to upgrade to GoLive 4 for $99.

Screen shot -- click for full-size view
The QuickTime movie editor was an Adobe innovation. Here's how the editor looks in version 6. (Click for full-size view)

In mid-2000 Adobe released GoLive 5.0, which was the first "all-Adobe" version of the product. One of the key features of 5.0 was "clean HTML code." This addressed a longtime gripe that GoLive reformatted any Web page opened in the application and added proprietary tags. Adobe called this fix "360Code."

They also integrated GoLive with their other products so you could drag and drop Photoshop and Illustrator files into the application, edit them, and GoLive would update the original source files. The QuickTime editor was further enhanced, and support for Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) was added.

Despite these improvements, GoLive 5.0 still lacked appeal for many professionals who created dynamic Web sites. Adobe realized that in order to go after this savvy audience they would have to raise the GoLive bar to a new height. During the first quarter of 2002, GoLive 6.0 was released. Not only was this product certified for Windows XP and Mac OS X, it took a brand-new approach to building dynamic Web sites. GoLive 6.0 brings together in a shrink-wrap box many of the tools that high-end Web professionals have been using individually for years.

GoLive 6: Appeal for the Web Pro?

Quite honestly, I don't know yet how much appeal GoLive 6 is going to have for the greater developer community. I've been talking to Glenn Fleishman about the open source tools in GoLive 6, and his feeling is that they're noteworthy. He just finished Real World Adobe GoLive 6 for Peachpit Press (along with coauthor Jeff Carlson).

Glenn is working on an open source tools article that should be online here within a few weeks. Take a look at it when it's live and let us know your impressions in the TalkBacks.

A new look for GoLive
Version 6 sports an entire new look and lots of added functionality. Will pro Web developers take note?

If you haven't used GoLive at all, I'll have a few articles for you by Deborah Shadovitz and Derry Thompson, two seasoned GoLive authors who really understand the interface and Web tools. Deborah and Derry will help you feel right at home with this Web development environment.

The history of GoLive has always been interesting. Now it appears the product itself is as appealing as the lore that surrounds it. Over the next few months we'll examine its strengths and weaknesses, and you can decide for yourself.

Derrick Story is the author of The Photoshop CS4 Companion for Photographers, The Digital Photography Companion, and Digital Photography Hacks, and coauthor of iPhoto: The Missing Manual, with David Pogue. You can follow him on Twitter or visit www.thedigitalstory.com.

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