Pagemonster
Amiga Webpage Creation Genie is out of the bottle

by Clark Alexander

Amiga users now have a commercial webpage creation product that delivers. Page Monster is designed to be infinitely expandable, to be programmable by the user and to be essential for the novice or the expert for creating their website.

This review is divided into two sections, first is a summary for those who don't have time to read the entire review. The second part is a detailed review of the product.

Summary:
Page Monster is a commercial webpage creation program for the Amiga computer. It is available from Culture Shock Multimedia, 2319 North 45th St. Suite 296, Seattle, Washington 98103 for $69.95 plus $5.00 shipping in USA. This program is the first commercial program that I am aware of to use Commodore Business Machine's object oriented programming language AmigaVision. The screenshots show how AmigaVision was used to create the user interface for each of the Page Monster Control Screens.

Page Monster requires the following to run:
A minimum of 8 MB of Harddrive space, A minimum of 6 MB of RAM, Amiga OS 3.0 or greater, AmigaVision Player and runtime libraries and the append command.

A feature that makes Page Monster unique is the excellent online tutorial and documentation. Culture Shock also offers online technical support and product registration. Their website is http://www.serv.net/~cshock/main.html

Page Monster is designed in such a way that people who have no knowledge of html can create their own website on their Amiga computer after reading through the Page Monster guide file or Page Monster's online documentation and completing the online tutorial. Experienced users of Page Monster will find Page Monster offers no limits to what they can do with their website.

Page Monster Review
I became aware of Page Monster after reading Randy C. Finch's Page Monster review in the October 1997 issue of Amazing Computing/Amiga. My internet service provider includes for all its customers 1 MB of space for a website . Friends of mine have had websites for some time and I wanted to create mine using my Amiga. Page Monster requires no knowledge of html. So this was the program I needed to design my website.

I mailed off my money order to Culture Shock and in 2 to 3 weeks I received Page Monster. After reading the license agreement and registering the product online I installed Page Monster. Before Page Monster will run the user must have the append command in the c: directory and AmigaVision Player and runtime libraries installed. These programs can be downloaded from Culture Shock's website as well as other useful programs. Download and install them all. Page Monster uses the standard Amiga installer so it is very easy to install. Also included with Page Monster is digitized voice help files. Page Monster also supports the Amiga speech feature. I believe once you have heard the digitized voice help speak, you will be amazed at its clarity and use it only.

Page Monster provides the structure for creating a webpage. It is also flexible enough to allow the user to revise or add to the html code using any text editor. ED for example, works fine and is included in Amiga OS 3.0 and 3.1. What this means is that the user has ultimate control over the the html code used to create their website. A good example of this flexibility is that Page Monster version 1.0 does not support the font sizes 1 to 7 command. It only supports header sizes 1 to 4. Using ED, I can specify the font size manually by entering the font size command into the my html code. The default font size is fine 98% of the time. The other 2% of the time when a larger font is needed you can change the font size to fit your needs.


Main Menu

After all the AmigaVision files and the append command was installed I started Page Monster. The first screen is labeled Main Menu. Here you find the eight parts of the Page Monster program. They are Set Background, Title, Header, Media Links, Paragraph, Lists, Forms and Edit mode. A website is built one page at a time. Each page is linked to each other to allow the user to go forward and backwards though the website.


Configuration Screen

Page Monster must first be configured by clicking the Config button on the main page. This brings up the Configuration screen. Here you enter your webpage address, internet browser location on your hard drive, text editor, viewer, player, mod player, paint program, default directory, page storage, amigaguide viewer, form action, domain name and email address.

This is also where you select speech help using the Amiga's synthesized speech or the Page Monster's digitized speech.

After saving the setup, you can click on start Page Monster or click on online support. The start Page Monster button will take you back to the Main Menu screen and the Online support button will prompt you for a internet connection, open the web browser you specified on the Configuration Screen and connect to the Page Monster online support page. After you have read the online documentation or Pagemonter Guide file and completed the online tutorial you can print them for future reference. Now quitting the browser will return you to Page Monster's Configuration screen.


Set Background Screen

The Set Background Screen
Here is where you load your background image file, background sound file and select your font color, link color and visited link color. There are 41 colors to choose from on this screen. After this is done, clicking on accept will return you to the Main Menu.


Title Module Screen

Title Module Screen
The Title Module is where you enter the name of your website, your name as the author, any comments you may have, and your email address. After this is finished click add and then main menu. The title information is not visible. One would have to look at the html source code to view the information entered in the title module.


Header Module Screen

Header Module Screen
Your Header is entered one line at a time. It can be centered by clicking on the center button and you can chose from Header sizes H1-H4. Click Add and then Main Menu to return the Main Menu Screen.


Paragraph Module Screen

Paragraph Module
Here you find nine lines to type in text one paragraph at a time. You can center, bold and italicize your text. ASCII text can also be loaded. Each ASCII file is considered a paragraph. The online documentation advises the use of small ASCII files. Click Add and them Main Menu to return to the Main Menu Screen.


Media Module Screen

Media Module
This screen lets you add inline pictures, internet links, link to other pages of your website, execute external programs. This is a very powerful feature to make your website as good as any website on the internet.


Export Project Screen

Completing your webpage
From the main menu, click on edit mode to toggle to assemble mode. Here you can click on the module buttons to put your webpage together. In this case one would click on title, header, Paragraph and media links to complete the page. To preview the page, click on preview to open your browser to view the page. If there are any changes, click on the text window in the middle of the Main Menu to open up your text editor to make corrections. To return to Page Monster, save the changes and exit the text editor. If you are happy with the page click save at the bottom of the Main Menu Page.

The Save button opens the export module. If you are using AmiTCP you can use the provided Arexx script to upload your webpage to your website from within Page Monster. If not, you will have to quit Page Monster and upload the file manually using your TCP/FTP programs.

Conclusion
Page Monster is the program for beginners,like me, who want to use their Amiga's to create webpages. As one gains more knowledge of html through experience with Page Monster or reading a book like HTML for Dummies by Deborah and Eric Ray, one can quickly create simple or complex webpages for your website.

A website is created one webpage at a time. Page Monster does a good job of creating a structure for the beginner for completing this task.

After registering Page Monster one will receive a secret userid and password from Culture Shock. This password allows you to enter the download section of the support section. Here you will find the Page Monster updates 1.01 and 1.01a , Frames Plug-in, and Load html from internet plug-in.

No product is perfect, if you look hard enough there is always something that might have been done differently. What I suggest is that Page Monster version 1.0 is very good start and future revisions may allow it to become the Amiga standard for webpage authoring programs.

For a quick example of a web page created with PageMonster, click here. Use the back button to return to this article.

Clark Alexander