WEB AUTHORING TOOLS AND LANGUAGES USED IN THE CORPORATE WORLD:
Professor #1: "I just put my course on the Web this semester. Without "Toolbook," I would have been lost. What did you use to construct your Web site, Merle?"
Professor #2 (Merle): "We use HomeSite at Scenic State University. Some of my colleagues, though, use BBEdit on their own."
This snippet reveals that we educators have our preferences regarding Web authoring programs, tools, and languages. Do these, however, represent "best buys" for the money invested by our institutions or by ourselves? As is the case with many research studies, this endeavor had a two-fold purpose:
(1) Identification of Web authoring languages, tools, software programs, and text editors used by selected Fortune 500 Webmasters; and
(2) Identification of Web authoring languages, tools, software programs, and text editors representing "best buys" for educators based on information obtained from the selected Fortune 500 Webmasters and from secondary research.
One caveat must be advanced, however: The "best buys" identified in this study represent the views of one person--the researcher. Before massive purchases are made of an identified software program or text editor, readers may wish to obtain demonstration versions.
METHODOLOGY OF THE STUDY
A convenience sample was then selected, based on information at the "Fortune 500 Matching Companies" Web site (Time Inc., 1996). Criteria for inclusion in the study are listed here:
1. Only companies based in the U.S. were considered,
Since the researcher had an operating budget of $0.00 for this project, e-mail access to Fortune 500 Webmasters was imperative. Therefore, the selected companies represented a convenience sample.
After selection of the sample, a survey instrument was constructed. Keeping in mind that a survey form that requires more than 10' to complete may not ever reach that stage. Therefore, the survey instrument for this study consisted of two brief questions. A copy of the form appears below.
Your input and time will be appreciated very much.
--Dr. Mary Ellen Nourse
Affiliate Assistant Professor
University of Idaho
1. What Web authoring tool(s), software, and/or language(s) was/were
used to construct your Web site? Please check all that apply.
___HTML Version 4.0
___HTML (earlier version)
___Text editor (Please specify).
___Web authoring software (Please specify)
2. What Web authoring tool(s), software, and/or language(s) do you
expect will be used by your company in 1999-2000? Please check all that apply.
___HTML Version 4.0
___Text editor (Please specify).
___Web authoring software (Please specify).
This instrument was pilot tested in early January, 1999. The test sample consisted of 10 Fortune 500 Webmasters not selected for the actual study. Results from the pilot test indicated that the instrument was understandable, so the survey form subsequently transmitted to 106 Webmasters. A deadline of early February had been stated on the form, which did not seem to affect the Webmasters.
Results of this study are based on data received from the first 20 respondents. Since completed surveys were still being transmitted as of February 18, an update will be provided during the presentation at the Technology in the Community College 1999 nline Conference.
The twenty Fortune 500 companies included in this study are listed below.
Apple (3 responses from 3 different Webmasters) Aramark
Automated responses were obtained from a number of companies not listed above. These generally contained a message that thanked the sender for his/her e-mail message to the company. The response often ended with an invitation to visit the Web site again.
One additional unusable response was received from a disgruntled Fortune 500 Webmaster. This gentleman believed that academic e-mail surveys constituted "spam" and were an abuse of the university computer network. This individual's company specialized in prevention of junk e-mail and spam. (The company has been removed from the study).
Question #1: What Web authoring tool(s), software, and/or language(s) was/were used to construct your Web site? Please check all that apply.
Number of Respondents
Tool, Software, Or Using Tool, Software, Or
Active X 2 10%
*Text editors identified by the 20 Webmasters and the number of respondents using each are listed here. Ten respondents indicated use of a text editor. Some Webmasters used more than one text editor, which explains why the numbers below add to more than ten.
**Web authoring software identified by the 20 Webmasters and the number of respondents utilizing these programs are listed here. Note that some Webmasters used more than one authoring program or tool.
Claris Home Page (2)
The second survey question and responses are delineated below.
Question #2: What Web authoring tool(s), software, and/or language(s) do you expect will be used by your company in 1999-2000? Please check all that apply.
Number of Respondents
Tool, Software, Or Using Tool, Software, Or
Active X 7 35%
+Text editors the Webmasters expect to use this year and the number of respondents planning to use each are listed here. Some Webmasters used more than one text editor, which explains why the numbers below add to more than nine.
Note that the lone users of Anachrophilia, Kedit, and Programmer's Editor expect to use these software packages again this year.
**Web authoring software the surveyed Webmasters expect to use this year and the number of respondents planning to utilize these programs are listed here. Note that some Webmasters used more than one authoring program or tool.
Discussion of the data acquired from this study appears in the next section of this report.
DISCUSSION OF THE DATA ANALYSIS
A number of text editors and Web authoring tools were used by only one survey participant. The lone user of Hot Metal Pro, for example, apparently has decided to use a different Web authoring software program in 1999-2000. Authoring programs not used by the sample Webmasters in 1998-1999 but expected to be utilized this year are Vignette Story Server, Oracle, Macromedia Director, and Flash. DHTML and XML are two languages not included in responses to Question 1 but appearing in feedback for Question 2.
ActiveX users may increase from two to seven of the sampled Webmasters in 1999-2000, based on survey results. Earlier versions of the Hypertext Markup Language will be abandoned in favor of HTML 4.0; only 4 Webmasters used 4.0 in 1998-1999 but 14 plan to use this updated version in 1999-2000.
The number of Webmasters planning to use Web authoring tools decreased. Nineteen individuals used Web authoring tools in 1998-1999, but only 16 plan to utilize these tools in 1999-2000. This may represent a trend toward use of original code, or these numbers may be a fluke. A larger sample might provide more insight into this observation.
In addition to analyzing utilization of various languages, software programs, and tools used by Fortune 500 Webmasters, this study fulfilled a second purpose. Identification of "best buys" in Web authoring programs and text editors constituted the second goal of this research endeavor. To accomplish this goal, secondary data was gathered on selected text editors and Web authoring programs used by the sampled Fortune 500 Webmasters. Results of this secondary research appear below.
Findings and Discussion Related to Text Editors and Web Authoring Programs Used by Selected Fortune 500 Webmasters
Text Editors Used by Sample Fortune 500 Webmasters
Despite this announcement which may have been written by someone with limited language ability, BBEdit is worthy of investigation. CNET provides a brief overview of BBEdit features:
"You get a menu, editing window, a list of open files, and a button bar full of HTML tools. Simply open a new HTML document, and BBEdit presents you with a dialog box with startup options, including a page title, the page's base URL, and <META> tag info." (CNET Services, 1995-1999).
Notepad does maintain a support site for users. The URL is www.notepad.org; a guestbook, chat area, e-mail link, and download link. This site is maintained by an anonymous charitable person. (Notepad home page, undated).
1. Site view,
HomeSite retails for $99. An electronic version is available for $89. (Allaire Corp., 1995-1998)
HomeSite, Notepad, and BBEdit are three text editors which selected Fortune 500 Webmasters intend to use in 1999-2000. Examples of Web authoring software identified by survey participants are highlighted in the next section of this research report.
WEB AUTHORING PROGRAMS USED BY SAMPLE FORTUNE 500 WEBMASTERS
Three important features of Dreamweaver 2 are
1. Cross-browser Roundtrip HTML,
Other features of interest to Web authors include
1. "Inspector" which allows the user to view the Web page as well as the source code,
A "Features Tour" of Dreamweaver 2.0 is available at www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/productinfo/features for those who enjoy comparison shopping, a matrix comparing features of Dreamweaver 2 against those of competitors can be found at www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/productinfo/matrix/
After examination of the comparison matrix, a potential user might want to download the 30-day trial version. This software can be downloaded from www.macromedia.com/software/dreamweaver/trial during the trial period, an Electronic Software Distribution version of Dreamweaver 2 can be purchased for $269. This version, however, doesn't include BBEdit or HomeSite. (Macromedia, 1995-1999)
Cold Fusion seems to be a combination of authoring tool and Web space rental service. An excerpt from the Vscape home page offers this explanation:
"Virtualscape has provided Cold Fusion hosting since early 1996. The experience we have gained in hosting over 600 Cold Fusion domains (1,800 domains total) has helped us create one of the most stable and affordable Cold Fusion environments anywhere. We understand that hosting a database-centric website is far more difficult than hosting static web pages. For Cold Fusion to operate at peak efficiency, it needs powerful servers and our custom-built machines are up to the task. The latest systems are top of the line Dual Pentium 350 servers with a minimum of 256MB of RAM (some have 512MB where necessary)." (Vscape International, Inc., 1998).
The Cold Fusion Web site contained a plethora of information regarding this product. Examples of Cold Fusion sites, support information, and a product overview are among the links at this site. However, a search of the site revealed no information regarding the cost of Cold Fusion.
MICROSOFT FRONT PAGE
Features of Microsoft Front Page which make this package attractive to Web authoring neophytes as well as advanced users are
1. WYSIWYG frames construction page,
"Microsoft Front Page Bulletin" is a free monthly e-mail newsletter provided as a service to Front Page users and other interested folks. Sample items in the February, 1999, issue include
*"Improving Your Keyword Density"
Those who value the ability to experiment with a software add-on or package prior to purchase may appreciate a subscription to the "Bulletin." The interactive Front Page demonstration, accessible via a link at www.microsoft.com/frontpage/, may be helpful in assessing the merits of Front Page.
The full academic version of Microsoft Front Page 98 retails for $69 in the United States. Ordering information can be found at www.microsoft.com/products/prodref/571_pr_ac.htm
RECOMMENDATIONS BASED ON SURVEY AND SECONDARY RESEARCH FINDINGS
Text Editor "Best Buy" of Selected Fortune 500 Webmasters
Web Authoring Software "Best Buys" of Selected Fortune 500 Webmasters
For the majority of Web authors who want to construct static pages, Dreamweaver and Front Page appear popular.
IMPLICATIONS FOR ONLINE EDUCATORS
Bare Bones Software. (January, 1999). Brand new update: BBEdit 5.0.2 now available! [Online]. Available: http://www.bbedit.com/ [February 15, 1999].
CNET Services. (1995-1999). BBEdit 4.5.1. [Online]. Available: http://builder.com/Authoring/HtmlPro/ss02.html [February 14, 1999].
Macromedia, Inc. (1995-1999). Dreamweaver 2. [Online]. Available at http://www.macromedia.com/dreamweaver/ [February 15, 1999].
Microsoft Corporation. (February 12, 1999). Microsoft Front Page 98. [Online]. Available: http://www.microsoft.com/products/prodref/571_ov/htm [February 15, 1999].
Microsoft Corporation. (February, 1999). Microsoft Front Page bulletin--February edition. [E-mail Newsletter]. Available: MicrosoftFrontPageTeam_006036@news.newswire.microsoft.com
Microsoft Corporation. (February 12, 1999). Front Page home page. [Online]. Available: http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/ [February 15, 1999].
Microsoft Corporation. (February 12, 1999). Product catalog. [Online]. Available: http://www.microsoft.com/products/prodref/571_pr_ac.htm [February 15, 1999].
Notepad home page. (Undated). [Online]. Available: http://www.notepad.org [February 19, 1999].
Time Inc. (1996). Fortune 500 matching companies. [Online]. Available: http://cgi.pathfinder.com/cgi-bin/fortune/fortune500/ [February 13, 1999].
Vscape International Inc. (1998). Cold Fusion home page. [Online]. Available: http://www.virtualscape.com/
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