Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Netskills Corner: The Evolution of HTML - Netscape Gold

Niall Mackenzie looks at using Netscape Gold for a more automated manner of Web page production.

Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is similar to an iceberg - like most other programming languages, 90% of its bulk lies beneath the surface. Writing Web pages can be a hugely rewarding experience but it can also be extremely tedious. This is fine for believers in the ‘no pain, no gain’ philosophy, but cowards, like me, welcome a bit of pain relief.

Netscape Gold is one of the best HTML analgesics around. Within the browser window, on-screen editing facilities offer a welcome alternative to the tag-tweaking, window-hopping caprice that is sometimes the Web page author’s life.

Sounds too good to be true? Well, perhaps, but we all know that, {SHIFT left angle-bracket} B {SHIFT right angle bracket} “tags” {SHIFT left-angle bracket} {forward slash} B {SHIFT right-angle bracket} or <B>tags</B>
- will shortly be transparent. We’re not there yet but Netscape Gold seems further along the evolutionary process than a lot of the editing software available.

Netscape Gold offers three ways of creating Web pages:

  1. Wizards: the frozen dinner of Web creation - quick and easy
  2. Templates: you stick to a tried and tested recipe but you can throw in your own ingredients
  3. Blank: you can lay your hands on the raw materials but you are wholly responsible for the final dish served.

1. Wizards

From Netscape Gold’s File Menu, choose New Document and then From Wizard. The rest is down to the speed of your connection to Netscape’s Web server and your love or hate of online tutorials and Frames. This really is an excellent way to get underway with writing Web pages. It uses Frames intelligently to guide you through all processes, including publishing your page on the Web (assuming you have access to a WWW server). You can even use your favourite Web pages to aid your design.

If your trans-Atlantic link is overly frustrating or your pathological hatred of Frames becomes unbearable or even if you just feel your creative juices have been stifled, forget wizards and look at templates.

2: Templates

From Netscape Gold’s File Menu, choose New Document and then From Template. You will again be taken to an area on Netscape’s Web server that contains a list of pre-written templates. You can then choose a template and save it to your own machine where you can replace the template’s images and text with your own. You can also use any set of templates which you’ve stored on your own machine.

The advantage with templates is that you can work off-line. They are also great for those amongst us who have a modicum of creativity but are terrified of a blank page. For brave-hearted artists a blank page offers unlimited possibilities.

3. Blank

This is where Netscape Gold comes into its own. Pages planned on paper can quickly become reality with good preparation and Gold’s editing facilities. From the File Menu, choose New Document and then Blank. This opens up the editing window containing a blank page and a set of familiar-looking toolbars. Images are easily added and aligned, text is modified and formatted using icons and links are found and inserted with little fuss. The right-hand mouse button provides shortcuts to adjusting the properties of all Web page items.

Possibly the best feature of Gold is table manipulation. Raw HTML tags for tables are very difficult to work with and on-screen editing for tables is a massive step forward, particularly where page layout is concerned.

Like all other editing tools, Netscape Gold has its limitations. For example, we have found that it does not like tables with more than 99 rows! More seriously, Frames, forms and Java applets are not supported in editing mode. Tags can still be edited but appear as yellow labels and it is only in browse mode that Frames and forms can be viewed.

What Netscape Gold does provide is an HTML editing tool for the novice and the expert. It is certainly very accessible to those with little Web editing experience and it takes the tedium away for the professional. Give it a try and see what you think. Download it from Netscape [1] . It is also accessible from within the UK at mirror sites at Hensa [1], Imperial College [3] and Edinburgh [4]


  1. Netscape Web site
  2. Hensa Netscape software mirror site,
  3. Imperial College Netscape software mirror site,
  4. Edinburgh Netscape software mirror site,

Author Details

Niall Mackenzie,
Netskills Trainer
Email: niall.mackenzie@newcastle.ac.uk
Tel: 0191 222 5002
Address: Netskills, University Computing Service, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU