Jim Specht, webmaster for Owens Community College, is receiving international kudos for writing a computer software program, known as "Lightning HTML Editor," used to design web pages.
PC Plus, an international computer magazine that is especially popular in Europe and Canada, rates Specht's Lightning software 8 out of 10. The reviewer in the September 1997 issue describes it as "well-designed" and offering "more assistance" and "intelligent options" and "a greater range of options" than other software.
Specht and his staff tested the software while creating the Owens Community College web site.
HTML is the computer language used to design pages for the Internet. "In coding HTML documents, I found there wasn't anything in the market I really liked," Specht said. "I wanted software that could help me write fast, good code. I decided to write software that also would help beginners, so they can quickly and easily design advanced web sites."
Lightning HTML Editor is known as "freeware," meaning that it is readily available through the Internet to everyone who accesses it. Anyone interested in using it can download and install it from the Owens server at http://old.owens.edu/Lightning/.
"The concept of freeware has come to mean software that is full-featured and free of charge to the user," Specht explained. "As an institution of higher education, Owens Community College is glad to host this software."
PC Plus doesn't discount the software just because it is freeware, either. "It's a measure of Lightning's quality that you have to keep reminding yourself that it's freeware," the magazine reviewer states.
A number of colleges across the country, in states such as Michigan and Nebraska, have taken advantage of the Lightning freeware for their computer classes. The computer classes at Owens also use it to teach students to write the codes to create web pages.
"Many faculty members have told me they like to use it to teach introductory HTML classes because of its ease of use," Specht said.
Specht, who has worked at Owens Community College for seven years as a computer operations specialist, designed the software for his own company, Lightning Software Products, which he runs from his home in Waterville.
He also does computer and Internet consulting for small businesses. "I enjoy helping people get their web sites up and running," he explained.
Specht said he is flattered by the review in PC Plus and also appreciates the constructive criticism offered in the article.
"The reviewer gave me some helpful technical suggestions, showing me a couple areas to update the software and make it better," he said. "But this is a great honor for me and for my work to be recognized like this. I really appreciate such a positive review."