Review: Myrmidon 2.0.1
Macintosh with 68020 or higher
System 7 or higher
Does not support QuickDraw GX
Myrmidon is one of the best-kept secrets of the Mac software industry. It delivers on an idea so simple and "Macintosh" that I can't believe no one thought of it before. Myrmidon lets you turn documents into Web pages simply by printing them. It promises to convert documents into Web pages with a single click. Athough getting good results isn't quite this simple, Myrmidon is certainly the simplest solution I have seen.
Unlike other HTML programs, Myrmidon is a printer driver. Once installed, you can select it in the Chooser just like any other printer and use it in any application that can print. After that, just print your document, and Myrmidon generates the appropriate HTML and graphics files. The amazing thing is that unlike many HTML conversion utilities, this one actually works. In most cases, files converted to HTML using Myrmidon look almost identical to the originals. Plus, you can do your work in Word, Excel, PageMaker, or whatever your "normal" business software is, rather than being constrained to working in a specialized Web application.
Although you really can convert documents simply by clicking the Print button, significantly better results are obtained by fine-tuning the Myrmidon settings to your particular document. You can give settings a name for use on future documents. Settings let you control how much work
Myrmidon tries to do. The "smarter" you ask it to be, the more closely it tries to match its output with the original document layout. As a consequence, it's more likely to"mess up." By performing a couple test runsand learning something about Myrmidon'ssettings, you can reliably convert nearly anydocument to HTML in a matter of minutes.
Twelve panes of settings may sound intimidating,but they are very easy to understand. Also, fullexplanations are available in the manual, andthere is excellent balloon help.
Myrmidon can separate multi-page documentsinto multiple HTML files and automaticallygenerate page controllers like this one.
It can convert large, bold text into headings; retain the fonts, sizes, styles, and colors of text; convert various kinds of lists into their HTML equivalents; and convert text beginning with prefixes such as "http://" or "mailto:" to the appropriate links. Graphics are automatically converted to GIF or JPEG format, and their file sizes are almost as good as if you'd manually done the conversion in Photoshop or DeBabelizer. The best part of Myrmidon is that it does an excellent job of preserving the layout of your document, including line-spacing, multiple columns, and inline graphics.
This scalable approach makes Myrmidon useful for a wide variety of Web authors. Those who want to turn a simple word processing document into a Web page can do so with the default settings. Those with more complex documents can experiment a little to find out which settings produce the best results. "Hard-coding" HTML authors will appreciate that Myrmidon generates reasonably clean HTML. It's not as good as human-generated code, but it's better than anything else I have seen. I appreciate the quality of Myrmidon's conversions and the readability of its HTML becauseI use it to convert ATPM into HTML. I only need to use BBEdit for fine tuning and adding a few features specific to our Web version.
Although Myrmidon is an excellent piece of software, there's a bit of room for improvement. For one, font options in Myrmidon are all-or-nothing. It can specify every font using <FONT FACE>, or none at all. It would be nice if Myrmidon could specify standard fonts with HTML and convert non-standard fonts into GIFs.
Another problem is that all graphics in a given document must be either GIFs or JPEGs. Certain graphics are better suited to one format, but Myrmidon forces you into a global choice. Currently, I work around this annoyance by converting each document twice, once with GIFs and once with JPEGs. It's simple to switch the graphic file references with BBEdit to get the best results.
In an industry dominated by $99 programs such as PageMill and HomePage, and products like CyberStudio and DreamWeaver that cost several times that, it's amazing that Myrmidon costs only $70 and fits on a single floppy disk. For those who create documents exclusively for the Web, Myrmidon is an easy-to-use, low-priced alternative to such programs. It really shines for those who prefer working in their accustomed word processing or page layout applications rather than learning limited or complex environments like PageMill or CyberStudio. For those who need to convert existing documents to the Web, Myrmidon is the most straightforward, elegant, and reliable solution I have found.
A free demo version (fully-featured, but limited to 25 uses) and samples of Myrmidon's output are available at: <http://www.terrymorse.com>.