by April 10, 2001 0 comments



Lexicon Mail

Price: Rs 8,250 for unlimited users 
Features
: Internet mail server, mail download and dispatch through POP3 and SMTP, scheduled auto dialing
unique e-mail IDs 
Pros: Simple to use and administer, has low hard disk and memory requirements, unlimited users at no extra cost. 
Cons: Low on features compared to Post Master
Contact: Lexicon Infotech 
E-mail: support@lexiconinfotech.com 
Website: www.lexiconinfotech.com 
Address: G-23, Solaris II
Opp. L&T Gate No 6
Saki Vihar Road
Powai, Andheri (E)
Mumbai 400072

You have an office of about 5 to 40 people, all of whom share a single or few e-mail accounts. You’d like everyone to have their own e-mail accounts, but the associated costs are high. Similarly, a separate mail server setup is also expensive. Lexicon Mail Server has been developed to handle such a situation. It allows multiple users to share a single e-mail account, while giving each one a unique e-mail ID. All you need is one or more SMTP or POP3 accounts, and a computer with a modem. 

You don’t need to be an expert to install and configure the mail server. It works on Windows 9x/Me/NT and supports any standard e-mail client like Eudora, Outlook Express, or Netscape Messenger. You just have to specify the mail server’s IP address in the clients’ outgoing and incoming mail server settings. 

The server dials using standard Windows Dial-up Networking, so you don’t need to learn any new configuration here. It works well with all ISPs. You don’t have to configure dial-up networking to pop up a window after dialing, as required by VSNL. 

The server automatically dials and downloads all e-mail, and clients can connect to it to collect their messages. Messages not picked up within a certain period of time are sent to the administrator. Mail sent to or received from clients within your office is automatically routed by the server without sending them to the Internet. Since clients pick up and send e-mail locally, it works at lightning speed.

When e-mail is sent, messages accumulate at the Lexicon server until it dials and connects. Your administrator can specify the time intervals for dialing, depending on requirement. If you want the server to dial immediately because you have to send urgent mail, you have to go to the server and do it. 

The Lexicon Mail server can only be managed locally. A Web-based management interface would really add value to it. It also has some good practical features. When you go on a holiday, you can configure the Lexicon Mail server to forward all your mail to another ID, say your free Web-based Hotmail ID. You can also set Auto Responders or Vacation Response for your incoming mail.

You can specify the batch size of incoming messages. So, if you set this to, say, five, the mail server will only download five messages at a time. This can be useful if you have a slow connect. You can configure the server to load at startup, so you don’t have to do it every time. 

We compared the mail server to other competing products in its league. These included Post Master and VPOP3. While it’s similar in features to VPOP3, it has lesser features compared to Post Master. For one, Post Master is Java based and can be administered from anywhere on the network. Post Master also has features like spam control, e-mail priority settings, simultaneous send and receive (both tasks happen simultaneously), etc. On the flip side the Lexicon Mail server is built on a VB front end and an MS Access backend, which makes it faster. In Post Master, you have to pay depending on the number of users, while Lexicon has a fixed price of Rs 8,000 for unlimited users. You can download a 15-day free trial version of Lexicon from its website,
www.lexiconinfotech.com

Sandeep Saxena for PCQ Labs

What’s good

GoLive has more under its hood than the average user will ever use. But with that power, it hasn’t gone power-mad. The features are all easily accessible, and they don’t intrude into your consciousness until you need them. A much-improved browser-based help guide lets you find step-by-step advice for particular tasks quickly. But you’ll need that help less and less, because GoLive’s consistency reinforces what you already know. 

GoLive has excellent site management features, with a single interface, the Site window, handling all site features. The Files tab has all files and folders used in a site, exactly mirroring the contents of the local hard drive’s organization. Files can be dragged in and out of this tab, new folders can be created, and objects or items can be moved up or down levels. 

Templates created by GoLive are reusable. Double-click a Stationery file and GoLive offers to create a new page with the template elements. Drag a Component from the Objects palette onto a page, and it copies the HTML while making a reference to the source. Changing the source updates every instance throughout the site. These two features help create an assembly line for crafting sites and later updating them. Making a Component out of a navigation bar allows changes in the navigation with a few clicks and a Save. 

External URLs and embedded e-mail addresses (using the ‘mailto:’ resource locator, to be technical) share the External tab of the site window, while colors applied as attributes and font sets invoked via the Font tag have respective Colors and Font Sets tabs.

The Design tab contains the most powerful and extensive of the new features: A prototyping tool that allows a designer to easily ‘sketch’ out new sites or sections of existing sites by combining templates, links, and layout tools. Pages and sections can be dragged in, and link relationships can be added (to be placed into real links on the finished pages later).

The Design tab allows any site to contain multiple designs in progress, and each design can have elements that are separately linked to different areas of an existing site. A simple staging approach allows you to check designs into your existing site, or to recall them if there are problems. This whole structure offers a way to test ideas out quickly and easily, as GoLive tracks all the relationships, rewriting pages and links as you submit and recall designs.

GoLive includes various new site management features including WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning). Nowadays such collaborative working is becoming the norm for large sites. For these advanced, multi-author sites it’s also becoming common to tailor not just templates and library items but the program itself. WebDAV is a technology for exchanging and synchronizing files, much like FTP but with substantially more power or, conversely speaking, much like CVS (Concurrent Versioning System) but with substantially less power.

WebDAV works over HTTP. It integrates with Apache and other Web servers, allowing the system administrator to add it as an extra. It supports file locking and shared locks so that several people can work on a website at once while knowing precisely who has which files checked out. It also allows better two-way synchronization so that newer files from the server can be downloaded at the same time that local files can be uploaded. This is one of the best features the software offers.

GoLive includes a JavaScript-based SDK (Software Development Kit) complete with interpreter and debugger. The idea is to encourage third-party developers to introduce advanced functionality while letting workgroups take control of features such as custom palettes. The SDK is certainly a step in the right direction but it’s by no means as simple as Dreamweaver’s in-built macro recording.

The software also offers a Clean Up Site tool that carries out a number of housekeeping tasks. It can delete any files in the site that aren’t referenced from any link descending from the home page or navigational hierarchy; and it can copy files from elsewhere on your local hard drive or network that are referenced by pages but not contained in the site’s content folder. 

The Export feature offers three options for copying your site to a new folder. Export also offers ‘stripping’ features that can pull out GoLive-specific HTML, as well as extra white space and comments. 

And what’s not

GoLive lets you plan and build your site before going live, but links must still be handled manually. The software has plenty of options for building and applying Cascading Style Sheets and JavaScript, but it hasn’t yet gone that extra mile to provide a full implementation of CSS; nor does it have debugging and programming tools for JavaScript. 

GoLive doesn’t let you use the site design to create automatic navigation links and rollovers in the way that NetObjects Fusion does. Initially this looks possible with the New Pages command which lets you specify automatic links to parent, child or sibling pages. Unfortunately these links aren’t actual but rather ‘pending’. In other words, you will be reminded to add them manually.

GoLive’s use of the Layout grid is great for non-coders and those for whom the visual impact of the page is more crucial than its download time, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t offer good direct table handling too. Some features, such as the ability to sort by rows or columns, are impressive but generally the table handling still isn’t either as interactive or as easily controlled as it should be. GoLive still seems to see tables as an occasional add-on rather than the fundamental basis of a clean HTML layout.

Support for advanced media and dynamic data is important, but by far the most important capability for a Web authoring package is its HTML control. GoLive’s HTML editing is left to two alternative views–HTML Source and HTML Outline–in the Page window. Both of these provide powerful editing environments with advanced features such as code checking against browser profiles, color coding with URL and media file highlighting and so on.

Compared to Dreamweaver, however, with its roundtrip HTML, simultaneous page and code editing and its quick tag selection and editing, control is underpowered and awkward. Dream- weaver’s Tag Selector manages to fit the same functionality into the Page window’s status bar. More importantly, GoLive’s palette’s behavior is strange. For example it looks like you should be able to instantly select the link that the cursor is in and quickly copy it within the Source Code palette; bizarrely though everything is selected apart from the crucial surrounding <A>tags!

Dreamweaver retains its coding edge, but there is one area of HTML functionality in which GoLive does move ahead. In the past, its Find and Replace was limited, but now the feature is fully HTML-aware. Using the new Element tab in particular opens up the ability to search for particular tags or tag attributes, with GoLive intelligently prompting you with all available options. With the Actions option you can then set whether the tag, its attributes or its content is changed. As parameters can be saved and reused, this means that you can automate common searches such as for IMG tags without ALT attributes.

Is GoLive 5 for you? It all depends. If you only dabble occasionally with website design and want lots of help putting pages together, then Microsoft FrontPage may be a better choice for you. For those who need the power of GoLive 5 or Macromedia Dreamweaver, which package will prove the best choice may depend largely on workflow preference. With Dreamweaver, you first figure out what you want and then fill in values; in contrast, GoLive allows you to drop in placeholders that can accommodate any kind of object anywhere, and then leave you to figure out the value later. 

All in all, most people updating websites on a day-to-day basis should find plenty to love in GoLive 5. It’s focused on their needs. 

Swati Sani for PCQ Labs

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