Namo WebEditor 5.5

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Verdict: Surprisingly professional web design and web graphics power at an amazing price.

Like Web Easy Professional and WebPlus, Namo WebEditor promises to get you off to a flying start with its range of pre-made site templates. You access these via the Site Wizard which lets you choose a basic structure, say whether for a company or community site, and then one of over 200 themed look-and-feels. The results aren’t as high-impact as those of its rivals’; in fact most are downright ugly so if you’re looking to have a site up-and-running in half a day look elsewhere.

Namo more than makes up for this disappointment by enabling you to take total control of your pages. Again compared to Web Easy and WebPlus, the design power initially looks awkward as, rather than simple freeform text boxes that you can position anywhere onscreen, Namo’s page layouts are determined by table grids. It might seem clumsy but this is the way HTML was designed and Namo does what it can to make handling simpler with its Table menu commands, tabbed Table Property Inspector and even a Table Pencil tool for interactively drawing your grids.

Alternatively, Namo also provides support for CSS layers that act as freeform text boxes. Or you can even gain the best of both worlds with Layout Tables - freeform layouts that Namo automatically converts to HTML tables behind-the-scenes. Namo’s text formatting control is just as comprehensive with the ability to apply the main HTML tags directly from the Formatting toolbar and to set up and apply CSS styles both internally and externally.

Namo WebEditor provides good design control and site management.

And Namo is no slouch either when it comes to adding extra impact to your pages. You can import JPEG and GIF images and apply a range of effects to them as well as resizing and cropping. Namo also provides plenty of web-oriented clipart and, especially impressive, even lets you add your own animated Flash buttons. You can also add dynamic impact thanks to Namo’s Script Wizard which offers over 80 JavaScript-based actions that can bring your page elements to life whether that’s creating an image rollover or managing the visibility of CS layers. There’s even a dedicated Timeline palette for managing DHTML animations.

So far so good, but what really makes Namo stand out from its budget rivals is that it doesn’t save its sites to a proprietary format that is then output as HTML. Instead you are working directly with the HTML files exactly as they are posted to the server. This has the unbeatable advantage that you can edit your code directly using the HTML tab at the bottom of the document window so that you have absolute control of your end results. And to help you get your code right, Namo offers syntax-based colour-coding, automatic indentation and even the ability to verify against the main HTML specifications and browser implementations.

Working with your HTML files directly is a big strength but it also poses the big problem of maintaining site navigation – for example do you really want to manually create an image rollover link and add it to all your pages every time you add a new page? It’s a problem that Namo solves thanks to its integrated Site Manager. Using the Site Manager’s default Navigation view you can quickly create a hierarchical outline for your site. This hierarchy is useful in its own right, but more importantly it can be used as the basis for Dynamic Navigation Bars which automatically create text or rollover links to, say, all top-level pages or all pages at the same level. The Site Manager also provides advanced publishing functionality such as a Remote view of your server files, reports on potential problems such as broken links and orphaned pages and even the ability to check-in and check-out your files for workgroup working.

And that’s not all. Namo WebEditor also comes with a number of supporting graphical applications to take care of GIF animation, image slicing and screenshot capture. These are handy but the bundled Namo WebCanvas is in a different league. Using its comprehensive vector-based shape tools, gradient and texture-based formatting and non-destructive effects and styles, it’s simple to create eye-catching graphics and especially web buttons and rollovers. These can be saved to GIF or JPEG or even the web-friendly vector-based SVG (Scalable Vector Graphic) format. Most usefully they can be saved to Namo’s own Smart Button format which can be losslessly scaled within the WebEditor application and used as the basis for Dynamic Navigation Bars.

Namo WebCanvas is an impressive standalone web graphics application.

It’s extraordinary power for the price - and typical of the whole Namo package. With most budget packages, the more you investigate, the more likely you are to come away disappointed. With Namo it’s the opposite. As you explore you come across yet more features such as auto correction, the ability to directly open, edit and save remote files, an equation editor, a macro recorder, XML capabilities even the ability to produce database-driven pages using ASP, JSP, or PHP!

The power is so impressive it’s important not to get carried away. There are still plenty of rough edges and full-time professionals certainly won’t be attracted away from Dreamweaver while one-off and occasional users looking for a simple HTML-free solution would do better with NetObjects Fusion. That said, Namo WebEditor provides excellent functionality at an unbelievable price.

Ease of Use
Value for Money

ratings out of 6

Tom Arah

April 2004


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