Formally owned by Allaire, Macromedia's HomeSite 5 is often referred to as the Web editor for hand coders. With this latest release, Macromedia proves that it is more than capable of providing this spectacular Web site editor with a very inviting new home.
If you've used HomeSite before, not much has changed regarding installation and startup. If you've never used the program before, you might want to either flip through the resourceful handbook or check out the long list of help references in the left-hand column. One topic that caught our eye was the "Learn HTML and CSS" feature, a rather in-depth tutorial for people who are just getting started with the language or who need a refresher course. These online courses take about a half-hour to complete.
For new users and old hands alike, HomeSite 5.0 offers some very compelling new features, including XHTML support. Macromedia has also worked hard to improve code validation for many languages, including HTML, JSP, CFML, and more. Checking your code for errors is as simple as hitting Shift and F6, a big improvement over the days of scrutinizing code and straining your eyes in search of missing "tr" and "td" tags. Another important improvement is the new Secondary Files tab, which lets you access multiple files at once, making it much easier and faster to incorporate remote files into your HomeSite project. In addition, Macromedia has included an Auto Backup feature, designed to save your work as often as you decide is necessary.
Macromedia's acquisition of HomeSite has also resulted in better integration with Fireworks and Dreamweaver, the company's signature Web design and development products. In addition, you can now edit files that are included within your code without having to open that file in a separate program.
The only pet peeve we have about HomeSite is this: HomeSite automatically inserts the proper end tag to correspond with whatever start tag you write. However, if you erase the start tag, HomeSite will not automatically erase the corresponding end tag, which often results in bad code. Not an earth-shattering flaw, but fixing it would be a small improvement to an otherwise outstanding product. –Gisele Toueg