By Kim Wimpsett
CoffeeCup HTML Editor is a code-based editor, which means you'll need to know some rudimentary HTML to use it. But if you can't remember what attributes a Table tag takes, CoffeeCup offers several HTML and script helpers, some solid HTML documentation, and live chat support. Better yet, it comes with a slew of premade images and scripts. Without a database wizard, a site wizard, or a collaboration server, we can't recommend it to site managers (they should try GoLive instead), but at $49, CoffeeCup is perfect for building small, personal sites on a budget. By Kim Wimpsett
CoffeeCup HTML Editor is a code-based editor, which means you'll need to know some rudimentary HTML to use it. But if you can't remember what attributes a Table tag takes, CoffeeCup offers several HTML and script helpers, some solid HTML documentation, and live chat support. Better yet, it comes with a slew of premade images and scripts. Without a database wizard, a site wizard, or a collaboration server, we can't recommend it to site managers (they should try GoLive instead), but at $49, CoffeeCup is perfect for building small, personal sites on a budget.
Super-duper coding environment
After an easy install and effortless setup, CoffeeCup is ready to go. Start the program, then open a page, and up pops CoffeeCup's Edit window, its primary work space. Here, you enter code by hand, so HTML knowledge is essential. As you work, you can format code so that it will be easy to read; you just click the tiny buttons in the top-right corner of the Edit window, for instance, to activate line wrapping or turn line numbers on and off.
CoffeeCup doesn't offer a WYSIWYG option, but you can see how your pages will look in a browser by clicking the Preview tab. Once there, choose View > HTML Tags Tab to display a handy list of all HTML tags; each tag expands to display its valid attributes or properties. Under the View menu, there are also options that let you see tag lists for WebTV, DHTML, and CGI. If you need more coding help, the online help offers an extensive HTML FAQ and HTML reference article.
To make it look neat and readable, CoffeeCup's Code Cleaner (Tools > Applications > Code Cleaner) helps you format and validates your code to make sure it's correct. CoffeeCup can validate your code against a variety of HTML specs (2.0, 3.2, 4.0 strict, 4.0 transitional), but GoLive's approach is better: it previews your site in specific browser versions and operating systems.
Premade goodies and wizards
If you'd like to add interactive elements to your page with little or no tweaking, CoffeeCup packs plenty of prefab scripts, including several clocks, scrolling messages, and image rollovers. You'll also find hundreds of images, such as buttons, animated GIFs, and background images, with thousands more available at CoffeeCup's site. When you choose Insert > Image, a dialog box presents a preview of the images, then lets you adjust the width, height, alignment, and ALT text (which provides alternative text, primarily for use when the image doesn't display) right then and there. CoffeeCup also comes with the Image Slicer, which cuts up your graphics so that they'll load faster or you can turn them into image maps.
To help you design tables, forms, and frames, CoffeeCup comes with plenty of wizards. But, in the future, we'd like to see a database or site wizard that lets you create several pages at once. Once your site is on the Web, CoffeeCup doesn't offer many site-management features, such as a report that scans pages to check and list broken links. Both GoLive and Namo are better-equipped site managers.
Plentiful and pleasant support
CoffeeCup's tech support includes live chat (weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CT). When you select Help > Live Help and connect to the Net, it takes only a few seconds for a support person to ask what you need. We appreciate such immediate attention, and the support reps are pleasant and helpful. CoffeeCup is the only tool in our roundup to offer live chat support. Even better, if you want to upgrade your copy of CoffeeCup, no worries: upgrades are free for the life of the product.
CoffeeCup lacks sitewide tools such as a site wizard, link report, or collaboration software. But that won't matter to small-site builders because, to simplify the Web building process, CoffeeCup automates many tedious coding tasks. For $49, CoffeeCup is ideal for coding small sites on a budget. If you're a corporate Webmaster looking for a content management system, try GoLive instead. Absolute beginners should go for a tool such as Microsoft FrontPage.