A typical school Web site not only introduces the school and its mission, it delivers diverse information, from weekly menu offerings to samples of student work and news about performance on standardized tests. Many schools that accept E-rate funds must also use their Web space to post electronic copies of local technology plans.
With budgets stretched to the max, though, few schools can afford professional Web site design. For this review, we've limited our products to several free or affordably priced graphical Web page editors that we feel good about recommending. All let users create interactive objects like rollover buttons, animated graphics, gradient fills, and hyperlinks through drag-and-drop operations, toolbar button clicks, and drop-down menus. Dreamweaver, FrontPage, GoLive, Web Studio, and webEdition provide a user-friendly editing environment to simplify page design. With Dreamweaver, FrontPage, and GoLive, you also get quick and easy access to a robust HTML editor, so you can modify code and tags directly. TypePad Pro isn't a traditional Web authoring tool, but we've included it anyway because its graphical, user-friendly work environment allows teachers to post classroom news and assignments or secure public space for students to post class writing.
Talking about the Web can be a dangerous proposition, fraught with acronyms and unfamiliar terms. Below, we define the specialized terms and abbreviations that appear in this review.
CSS: Cascading Style Sheets. An addition to HTML that allows designers to create style sheets that can then be applied to multiple pages in a Web site. For example, you might use CSS to quickly give all your site's pages the same header formatting.
DHTML: Dynamic HTML. DHTML content can change each time it is viewed, based, for example, on time of day, the visitor's location, or other parameters.
RSS: Rich Site Summary or Really Simple Syndication. Some Web tools allow site authors to create an RSS "feed" of information. When new information appears on the site, it is fed directly to users, who read the content within RSS reader software.
SVG: Scalable Vector Graphics. Designed for displaying pictures in XML pages, SVG allows your Web images to adjust to the size of the window in which they're viewed.
WYSIWYG: What You See Is What You Get. All the programs in this review are WYSIWYG Web editors.
XML: Extensible Markup Language. Developed as an interoperable framework for sharing data. Content coded with XML tags can be shared among applications, regardless of the publisher or vendor.
XSLT: Extensible Style Language Transformation. A standard for converting XML documents into other formats.