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Web pages made simple

Sep 01, 20033 mins

Macromedia’s Contribute 2 is easy to use, feature rich

Every company needs a Web page. But for those of us who don’t program, a new product from Macromedia — as well as tools from WebSite Pros and Evrsoft — make Web page creation almost as easy as writing a Word document.

Macromedia’s Contribute 2 does three cool things to help you make Web sites. First, you never see any HTML code whatsoever. You can’t find those codes inside the characters even if you look for them. You don’t even have to remember where you stored the previous versions of your Web page, because Contribute 2 downloads the actual page and lets you edit that, then puts the changed version back on your Web site with a single click. Versions are kept so you can roll back to earlier versions easily.

Contribute 2 also lets multiple people work on the Web site but grants only one administration rights. The administrator can give one user full authority to change anything on a site, while giving another the ability to update text but not change the design. This feature lets different departments control their own pages but remain under the Webmaster’s design authority. Each user must have their own copy of Contribute 2, and the program locks out all scripts or server code from being changed.

Third, Contribute 2 introduces FlashPaper Technology. Similar to Adobe’s PDF pages, FlashPaper documents retain the same fonts, layout and design as the original document regardless of browser viewing them.  The browser must have Macromedia Flash Player 6 installed, already installed by 530 million people worldwide. Flash Paper doesn’t have the security or versatility of Adobe Acrobat-created pages in PDF, but it works with any application that can send a print job to a printer. With only two mouse clicks, Contribute 2 lets you place any document from any application (Word documents and spreadsheets, Visio graphics, engineering files, even PowerPoint slides) on your Web site so anyone can view it.

Contribute 2 isn’t perfect for everyone, but it’s handy. The template selection to help you create Web pages from scratch is pretty mundane. E-commerce support is provided by a link to PayPal, but that service is your only built-in option. The price is $99 per copy with discounts for volume (including $399 for a five-pack and $749 for a 10-pack).

For more programming and page design power, complexity and money, you can go up the ladder to WebSite Pros NetObjects Fusion.  Automatic publishing and file tracking is more complex because NetObjects 7.5 stores projects locally and publishes entire directory folders to Web sites. Working views of your page include full HTML editing to no HTML visible for a Word document development approach like in Contribute 2. Price starts at $164 per downloadable copy. 

For less automation but no money, I’ve enjoyed using 1st Page 2000 from Evrsoft. Similar to NetObjects, 1st Page offers HTML editing or HTML-clean editing like a Word Document.

Yes, you can hire Web page designers, and you should if your site does involved e-commerce or uses a database application or the like. But if you’re looking for easy (and non-demanding) Web page creation tool you can control, Contribute 2 deserves a close look.