updated 01:25 pm EDT, Mon April 21, 2008
First Look: Freeway 5
One convenient feature is the program's use of master pages. Essentially, a master page contains items or layouts used in multiple secondary pages. For example, if every page contains a company logo in the upper-left corner, and the same background image along the left and right margins, you could design this on a master page rather than separately on two or more copies. As the design of a master page shifts, Freeway automatically alters the content of any associated file.
For greater flexibility, the program even allows you to create multiple master pages. One master might define the layout of pages displaying text, while a second might define the appearance of pages that need to display mostly pictures.
To help you align items on a page, the program offers guide lines, which appear as colored items that you can hide or display. If you need to precisely align elements, you can type exact dimensions into an Inspector window that defines the position and size of every item on a page.
Every website design tool lets you insert text boxes and pictures, but Freeway goes one step further and lets you add elements such as checkboxes, buttons, navigation bars, Google maps and advertisements. Choose what you want to add to a page, define its size and position, and Freeway worries about the details of the actual HTML code needed.
Since text makes up the bulk of most websites, the program offers multiple ways to display text in different shapes, fonts, colors, and styles. If you need to add graphic elements to a web page, the program can import Illustrator and Photoshop files, along with commonly-used JPEG and GIF images and any pictures stored in your iPhoto library.
After placing an image, you can resize, rotate, and even reshape it. Instead of relying on a rectangular format, Freeway can mold the shape of an image into an oval, ellipse or any other shape you're willing to take time on, through dragging and manipulating edges. Shadows and glow can be added for greater customization.
Most websites consist of a collection of separate pages, so to help you keep track of the way they're linked together, the program displays a handy link map. By glancing at this map, you can see exactly which pages connect to a others, including the one you're concentrated on.
When you're done creating your site, the program offers a built-in FTP client for posting your files to a .Mac account or regular hosting service. To save time, the program examines your existing files and only posts the updated versions.
If your current design program is too limited or too complicated, then Freeway may be the program you need. Novices might prefer the simpler Freeway Express ($79), while more advanced users may want the additional power of Freeway Pro ($249). Freeway may take some time getting used to, but once you get comfortable using it, you'll find that it's more flexible and powerful than most of its rivals.