Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Before You Buy an HTML Editor

When building a Web page, you might think that it really isn't important what editor you use. You can write HTML in MS Word or you can use the tools on your hosting provider. HTML editors come in two flavors: text editors and "what you see is what you get" editors. Your choice of editor will be influenced by what you want to do. HTML editors range in price from free to several hundred dollars. There are good editors in every price range.

"What You See Is What You Get" HTML editors are very easy to use. Most novices start out with a WYSIWYG editor because you can get a new Web page up quickly. But while WYSIWYG editors offer more design flexibility, they don't result in pages that are better looking - Designers can create beautiful pages with Notepad as easily as with Dreamweaver. The biggest advantage that these editors have is that you don't need to know HTML to put up a Web page.

Text HTML Editors

This is the type of editor I use every day. I use HomeSite for big jobs and vi for small edits. Text editors provide a lot of control and speed for Web Developers. A Developer who understands HTML can often edit Web pages much more quickly using a text editor than another developer can using WYSIWYG. If you're planning on doing Web Development professionally, hiring managers want employees who know HTML.

Why Choose WYSIWYG or Text Editors

Most Developers have a decided opinion about whether to use a WYSIWYG editor or a text editor. I prefer text editors, and only use WYSIWYG editors when pressed. Text editors are usually faster to edit HTML changes, and they don't add in unexpected tags. WYSIWYG editors are usually easier to use and don't require a knowledge of HTML. I also like text editors because they can easily support new formats like XML.

Free HTML Editors

If you're looking for an HTML editor that is a little easier on the pocketbook, there are some good ones available, in both WYSIWYG and text editor flavors. These editors are fully functional and offer many of the same benefits as their more costly cousins.

Other Considerations

Other things to think about when you're looking for an HTML editor are:
  • Does it include a validator?
  • Does it support XML, JSP, PHP, and other languages besides XHTML?
  • Can you extend it with add-ins or extra functionality?
  • Is there a large user-base to get help?
  • Are there support pages or help available from the publisher?

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