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Freeway 5.5 Pro
by Paul Rego
Company: Softpress Systems Limited (www.softpress.com)
Cost: $229 (“Pro” download); $69 (“Express” download) There are also senior, educational and non-profit discounts. M.A.C.S. members can get a discount by downloading the "Mail Order Discounts" file from our "Members Only" section.
What Is It?
Freeway is a web-page-design and maintenance program. Beginners shouldn’t be concerned about all the “technology”. You don't even need to know what "HTML" is. Start with a blank Freeway page or choose from the many included templates. Just place photos, videos and/or text on your page. When you're ready, Freeway will upload all the pages and pieces to the Internet and your web pages will appear just the way you designed them! Freeway always keeps track of "what" needs to go "where" and does all the hard work for you.
Don't let the casualness of this M.A.C.S. site fool you. Freeway is also capable of helping you create professional-looking web pages, complete with perfectly-aligned columns of text and a pop-out menu at the top... or anything else you can dream up.
As a first-time Web designer, you may have used Apple's "iWeb" program (part of "iLife" ). Although iWeb is easy to use, it's also very limiting. You may have heard about Adobe's "Dreamweaver" program ($399). Yes, this is a very powerful program but is really overkill for most websites and the learning-curve can be HUGE!
Enter "Freeway". Even Freeway Express ($69) will allow you do create just about any type of website you can think of. I used the "Express" version for many years to create and maintain this M.A.C.S. website. Later, I switched to the "Pro" version because of some of the behind-thescenes helpfullness it offered. I've been very happy with the Pro version ever since. It not only allows me to take advantage of all the leading-edge functions Softpress had poured into Freeway but it's sometimes just reassuring to know that I'm not limited in any way. This allows me to spend more of my time on "ideas" and almost no time on "I need to find a work-around".
Talking about “Freeway” shouldn’t exclude professional web designers who require the best tools. Freeway 5.5 Pro offers Standards-Compliant CSS and XHTML; Shopping Cart technology; Flash movie capability; Illustrator, Photoshop, TIFF (and more) file import; Layer control; Multiple Master pages; Link Map; Java applets; Unicode (mix languages on the same line); etc. Here are some other features which Freeway 5.5 Pro offers over Freeway 5.5 Express (from the Softpress Web site):
This Softpress page shows most of the "Pro" versus "Express" features side by side.
The "Link Map" not only shows all your pages at a glance but it also indicates which pages are linked to other pages within your Freeway file or somewhere else on the Internet. While viewing any of your pages within Freeway, clicking the "Link Map" button (in the Toolbar) will display a Link Map starting with that page at the far left.
Below, you'll see that I started with my Frames page (on the far left). On that page, I have two Frames. This allows me to display the M.A.C.S. green "navigator" in the left (non-scrollable) Frame and all the other information in the right (scrollable) Frame. So, in this Link Map, you see that the Frames page holds the "Navigator" and "Welcome" pages. The blue lines extending from each of those pages tells us that they are linked to those associated, blue-line, pages. The small page icons represent other Freeway pages within my Freeway file. The blue dots represent links to other pages on the Internet.
Freeway also allows you to fine tune your Web pages for viewing on mobile devices, such as an iPhone and iPad.
A few of the features I really take advantage of, in the "Pro" version, are
Each of these allows you to make finite adjustments to characters, paragraphs and the amount of space between them -- “above”, “below” and “beside”.
Let’s not forget about the very powerful “Style Sheets”. With this feature, you set all the attributes for a specific kind of text. For example, let’s say all of your page titles will be 18-point, black, Times, centered and subtitles will be 14-point, green, Helvetica, left-justified. You would create 2 Style Sheets. Then, any time you want to create a page title, you simply enter your text, highlight it, then click the appropriate style. The beauty of this is two-fold. First, all of your text areas will be consistent. Second, any time you decide to change one of those areas (such as titles), you simply change it in the Style Sheet dialog box and Freeway will automatically change every instance of it, throughout your document! So, in my example above, if you decided to make all the subtitles "Times" instead of "Helvetica", you simply make one change.
If you want to be sure your Web pages will look good in different Browsers, Freeway offers two helpful functions:
Personally, I don't use the "Accessibility Report" because:
The Extras In Version 5.5
From the "What's New In Freeway 5.5" PDF...
This Softpress page provides information and short videos of the new features in version 5.5.
118-page “Using Freeway 5” PDF. 468-page “Reference” PDF (the font used in this one is more difficult to read). The boxed version of Freeway Pro comes with the physical "Using Freeway 5" manual. Both manuals are used for the “Pro” and “Express” versions. Each carefully points out which features are “Pro” only. The Softpress site offers several tutorials -- some are QuickTime movies! They also offer a newsletter and online discussion boards.
Pro or Express
At this point, I’m pretty sure everything on the current M.A.C.S. web site could have been done with the “Express” version. I didn’t use any Layers, Flash, CSS, etc. If you’re an entry-level or basic user, Freeway 5.5 Express ($69) will give you all the control and expansion you’ll probably ever need. Later, if you wish you had purchased the Pro version, you can simply upgrade for just $169.
Be sure to visit the Softpress site and download a trial copy of Freeway. Try it for yourself. Even for simply sharing your vacation photos with your family, Freeway Express is a great way to go and an excellent value for just $69!
This page was updated on 11/25/10