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Freeway’s use of Mac OS X conventions make using it a smooth ride.
Freeway’s interface draws heavily from page-layout apps—a welcome departure from the more common word-processing model. Most page elements start out as empty objects that you can fill, adjust, and place as desired. Text can be rendered as a GIF on output for those times you must use a particular font, drop shadows, or other effects.
Freeway is also good with images. We were able rotate, scale, crop, mirror, and skew images without a trip to an image editor. Using Master Pages, creating sitewide consistency was simple, although we also found that it was too easy to accidentally detach an object on a particular page from its Master version.
Some of Freeway’s Actions facilitate website features such as rollovers, while others are filters for manipulating photos. Freeway 5 Pro ships with 34 Actions and another 200 are available on the Softpress website. The filter Actions we tried yielded satisfactory results and can be combined to create effects. The possibilities here are vast, though the execution left us wanting. In designating target images to be used in complex rollovers, for example, Freeway requires each image to be a member of a target group. The ten target groups have fixed and somewhat obscure names, and require the user to remember which images were placed in which group.
When you’re ready to publish, Freeway will output your code. Three varieties of HTML and two XHTML are offered, all of which comply with the World Wide Web Consortium’s standards. Freeway departs from most Web design tools, however, in that HTML is not created as you work. This precludes common techniques like switching over to a text editor to adjust your code on the fly. Custom HTML can be accommodated, but if you’re used to getting under the hood of your HTML, Freeway can feel a bit confining.