HTML editors

There are so many software packages available to develop HTML. The software packages can be grouped into two main categories:

  1. text-based (or code-based) editors
  2. WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors

Text-based (or code-based) editors

To start creating web pages, you do not need an expensive software package but you do need some knowledge of HTML. You can create web pages with a basic text editor like Windows Notepad. However, as you master scripting HTML, you will learn that using Notepad or some other basic text editor is not sufficient. In Windows, Notepad can be started from the Start Menu:

  1. Select: Programs | Accessories | Notepad
  2. Type notepad.exe or just notepad in the Run command from the Start Menu:

    1. Start the Run Command
    Run Command
    2. Type "notepad" in the textbox.
    Type Notepad
    Next, click on the OK button to start Notepad.

Macromedia Homesite is a popular text-based HTML editor. The editor provides many HTML-specific options that are not available in the Windows Notepad.

WYSIWYG editors

Because WYSIWYG (pronounced wuzzywig or wizzywig) HTML editors do not require much HTML knowledge, they tend to be expensive. These editors allows you to directly work in the "design" or "preview" view instead of the code view. The main advantage of working with the design view is that you can design the layout of your page by dragging-and-dropping pieces of your page layout. Thus a web page can be developed more quickly than by hard-coding it by hand using a text-based editor.

There are several popular WYSIWYG editors available:

  1. Macromedia Dreamweaver
  2. Microsoft FrontPage
  3. Adobe GoLive

Remember these editors can help you create web pages but they cannot teach you HTML. If you first master HTML, you will utilize these software packages more efficiently.

Text-based editors versus WYSIWYG editors

So what type of software package should you chose to develop your web pages? The following points may help you decide:

Text-based (or code-based) editors

WYSIWYG editors

  • Better control. Because text-based editors require knowledge of HTML, the developer has more control over what is written to produce a web page. In some cases, a software package (like FrontPage) may write proprietary code that may not be interpreted by all the brwosers.
  • Faster editing. You can quickly change your code unlike WYSIWYG editors. WYSIWYG editors require, for example, a lot of computer-resources to start-up or load/open a page.
  • More flexibility. You can edit your code directly at the desired location. This cannot be always done with WYSIWYG editors.
  • Support for other scripting languages. WYSIWYG editors provide advanced features to code in other programming/scripting languages such as JavaScript, XHTML, ASP/ASP.NET, PHP, and JSP.
  • Faster/simplified development. WYSIWYG editors allows you to develop pages quickly as the software writes the necessary code in response to the layout you design for your web page.
  • Better organization. Dreamweaver, for instance, allows you to define a site folder that contains all the files that make up the website. By defining a local site folder, you have many advantages including moving of files (without breaking links), searching of a particular term or tag in the entire site (without having the file open!), and FTP support to move only changed or new files to the server.

If you still are not sure about which editor to use, download a trial version of each software that you want to try. After trying, decide which software is better suited for your needs.