Serif - WebPlus

My first foray into producing a webpage was to code it by hand using HTML. The learning-curve was very shallow - I would spend many hours learning and coding, and produce very little result. Editing the page, and changing its layout, was an equal nightmare. No doubt there are many web-authors out here who earn a living still working at this level, and I take my hat off to them!

When I bought Microsoft Office ‘97, this came with FrontPage - a WYSIWYG web-authoring program, specifically designed to enable ‘numpties’ like me to create reasonable websites in a short space of time. I took to it like a duck to water and produced my first full website in a matter of weeks. (Most of that time was spent producing the words and pictures for it). The biggest problems I had with it related to poor browser-compatibility, and the fact that the web server (host) needed to provide support for its ‘extensions’ - server-side processes that added dynamic features to the web pages.

In 2005, I wanted to create a new website and looked for an update for FrontPage, but found that it was becoming obsolescent, so I looked around for something to replace it and perhaps add more functionality. I tried DreamWeaver, the so-called Industry Standard editor, but I found it too intricate and did not give me the look-and-feel I was used to with FrontPage. No doubt if web-design was my job, then DreamWeaver would be the solution for me, as I would climb the learning-curve over time and I could achieve greatness, but it was not for me. However, I was not prepared to compromise on functionality, and I was prepared to return to it if I didn’t find something that suited me better.

The search was on to find a solution to my quest. I will not bore you with details of my journey, but rather to say that I found the answer in Serif’s WebPlus. Although delighted with the program, I must say that I found it to have one limitation (if that’s the right word) - it does not produce pages that dynamically re-size according to the width of the viewer's monitor screen (something that FrontPage did). This is probably a good thing however, as I can imagine webpage layouts being decimated by viewing on a wide-screen monitor. It may also be the secret of WebPlus’s success, since pages appear just as designed on the monitors of your audience. This was one area that I was prepared to compromise on, also given the fact that pages can be centred in the browser, and the blank-space either side of the page can be filled with an image, texture, or colour of your choice (which does re-size with screen-width). Look at the page you are viewing now, and you will see what I mean.

Here is a screen-shot of WebPlus in action, made whilst I am working on this page. Move your mouse over various areas to see what they are for.    

Basic Toolbar

This is where various page

objects can be quickly

accessed instead of using

the Insert  menu

Drawing Toolbar

You can draw shapes, text and

lines from here, and perform

fills and crops etc.

Web Properties Toolbar

Shortcuts to performing

hyperlinks, anchors, popup

menus, and setting export options etc.

Studio Toolbar

Gives quick access to a panel

that will slide in from the left

(Not shown here) containing a huge set of options for formatting objects

Text Formatting Toolbar

A large selection of text formatting options are available from here.

Start new website

Open and Save


Attach HTML Code

View site structure.

Preview site/page in various browsers.

Publish site/page to web or folder or as a picture or PDF file.


(99 levels)

Select Z-order of object.

Align object(s).

Size objects.

Snapping on/off.

Attach to right/bottom.

Fill colour

Line colour

Text colour

I look upon this as the colour control centre. It provides ways to choose/view colours, either from palettes or from named colour schemes. New colour schemes can be designed and saved here too.

Various colour gradients can also be selected and applied.

Line weights/colours and dot-dash patterns are available, and bitmap patterns for fills can be chosen here.

View/adjust site-structure.

Create/select Master Pages.

Create/select web pages

View list of objects on current page.

View/select styles for objects

View/select/create colour schemes.

Another way to align objects.

Transform (resize/rotate) objects.

Fine-tune characters.

Select language.

Right from the start I found WebPlus as easy to use as a word-processor. Once I had figured out what Master Pages were, and how to use them, I was away. Many of the features and functions are intuitive, and it is rarely the case that I find difficulty in getting the effect that I want - in fact I have not yet found anything that WebPlus cannot do. The embedded help is somewhat terse on occasions, but has proved useful to point me in the right direction - once I find the right terminology for the subject I am searching for. Serif also has a very active Forum, which I visit often to pick up hints and tips. I have had one occasion where I was ‘stumped’ and had to seek help on the forum. Within a couple of hours an expert came in to provide an answer.

The user interface is pretty much as shown above when WebPlus is first launched, but there are many ways in which it can be customised to suit the workflow of the user. Toolbars can be moved around, and either placed horizontally or vertically. More toolbars can be added, and existing ones removed as required. The buttons on the toolbars can also be customised - either removed or added from a comprehensive list, so that the interface is just as the user wants. The wide panel shown on the right of the screenshot can be hidden if required, and made to slide out temporarily when needed. Likewise with the Studio Panel on the left hand side (hidden at present), which contains ‘How To’ help, and gives access to Text Styles, Fonts, Objects, and Assets.

Sites and individual pages may be constructed using a variety of built-in Templates, or they can be built from scratch, using custom designed Master Pages, as I have done with this website. Templates exist for desk-top websites and for mobile Smart Phones. (It is possible to design a site that automatically switches between desktop and mobile formats, depending on the viewing device).

Previewing single pages and whole sites in a variety of browsers is very easily accomplished, so it is easy to check the appearance and quality of your work as you go. Whole sites or single pages may be published to disc-folders or web-hosts directly from the program, or be exported as PDFs.

For websites involved with financial transactions, there is support for PayPal E-Commerce objects. How well this works I have yet to find out.

In the 7 years that I have been using WebPlus, through various upgrades, I have never regretted investing in this program.