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HandyHTML 1.3 review:

HandyHTML 1.3

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The Good Solid set of HTML tools; affordable; easy to use.

The Bad Lacks some of the extras of higher-end programs; weak help files may scare off novices more accustomed to WYSIWYG editors.

The Bottom Line HandyHTML provides a worthwhile series of standard features and is almost identical to the popular Allaire HomeSite, but it is less than half the price.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall

Review Sections

HandyHTML is a semiautomated HTML text editor that provides a broad array of standard features for an economical price. It is Allaire HomeSite's Microsoft-like, iconed doppelgänger, in terms of functionality. In fact, there are only a few places where it just doesn't stand up to the competition, such as the lack of line numbers and the poor help files. But if you're a beginner looking for an affordable program to help out with the fundamentals of building your pages from scratch, you will find HandyHTML more than worth your time (and money). HandyHTML is a semiautomated HTML text editor that provides a broad array of standard features for an economical price. It is Allaire HomeSite's Microsoft-like, iconed doppelgänger, in terms of functionality. In fact, there are only a few places where it just doesn't stand up to the competition, such as the lack of line numbers and the poor help files. But if you're a beginner looking for an affordable program to help out with the fundamentals of building your pages from scratch, you will find HandyHTML more than worth your time (and money).

Fundamental features and a few treats
HandyHTML provides users with the toolbox of essentials that we've come to expect from a text editor: color tag highlighting, previews (one for each major browser, including Opera), automated FTP, image map generation, and an icon-laden toolbar that allows you to insert basic code (links, image tags, character formatting, and so on) with a single click. All of these functions are clearly arranged in an intuitive Office-like interface, and all of them perform well. HandyHTML even has a few tricks up its sleeve that we haven't seen before. One such instance is the Color Spy: click any color anywhere on the screen and presto--you'll be presented with the hexadecimal code for that color.

In addition, HandyHTML has a large tag library, which includes form, CSS, and JavaScript elements. The Tag Explorer allows beginners to investigate these tags and familiarize themselves with their functions. Select a tag (from a well-organized hierarchical directory), and HandyHTML provides you with a general description of its function.

Along with this, the program features a tag autosuggest feature; as you type in a tag, a window will pop up, containing a selection of the possible tags that you may be typing. Beginning users may find themselves somewhat disoriented by the proliferation of options that appear as they type, and seasoned users will realize that this feature is genuinely helpful only occasionally, since most tags require just a few keystrokes to begin with. At its worst, the autosuggest feature will automatically generate tags that you hadn't intended to type. Turning it off merely requires some tinkering with your options.

Affordable price, but what's missing?
HandyHTML packs in a substantial amount of functionality, and at $24.95, it's also one of the cheapest text editors out there. But what do you lose? Mostly things that hand-coders don't need anyway, such as prewritten templates, JavaScripts, or DHTML code, all of which some of the higher-end editors ladle on thick. Also, HandyHTML has the ability to run wizards, but it provides only two: an Image Map wizard and a Setup wizard, which will create an empty page to your specifications. (Note: The Setup wizard inserts meta tags declaring itself as the generator of the page, but you can remove these.) You can also create your own wizards, but you'll need to be a C++ whiz.

There are a few other notable absences. Seasoned users may complain that line numbers aren't inserted into the document, as they are in the comparable Allaire HomeSite, but are instead relegated to a small pane in a status bar. Also, beginners will get little assistance from the meager help files. (HandyHTML comes to us from Russia, and the shaky English that characterizes the help files calls their usefulness into question.)

The lack of some extras actually helps the program load quickly, however--about twice as fast as HomeSite on a standard computer. So if you're just looking for a reasonably priced tool to streamline your hand coding, HandyHTML will give you the required essentials for a practically negligible cost.

Many of HandyHTML's features are set in an intuitive, familiar-looking toolbar interface.

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