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Thread: What is a good online or offline HTML editor?

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    Default What is a good online or offline HTML editor?

    I've been looking around for a good html editor that let's me see what I'm doing as I'm doing it - a live update. I have to be able to use html and css on it.
    Please if you have anything that could help that would be incredible.
    Last edited by jscheuer1; 01-18-2012 at 04:02 AM. Reason: remove spam sig

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    You can update a file using FTP. Many editors have FTP built into the program, or you can use a separate FTP program to upload to the server. Of course it's easier if your program does have FTP built in so whenever you click "save", the file is stored directly on your server and you just need to refresh your browser.
    That's absolutely the best way to do it because you get to preview a real web page in a real browser.

    There are other programs for web design, called WYSIWYG editors ("what you see is what you get"), and these can appear to be great, but honestly most of the time they get in the way:
    1) They encourage laziness and delay learning code.
    2) They write code in weird ways, not conforming to standards or generating extra code (for example, rather than combining color and size, they might generate two separate tags, each modified for one of those properties).
    3) They often generate code with actual errors; and whether it's an error or just something nonstandard, if you don't understand the code, then you can't fix it; it's also harder even for experienced designers to fix the code because, well, a machine wrote it. It's not easy to work with.
    4) The "WYSIWYG" preview is a myth. It is a kind of preview, but it's based on the HTML renderer in that program, and NOT in a real browser. So you STILL have to upload it and test it in various browser and you'll find, not surprisingly, that not all browsers match up to it. Even if you have a great WYSIWYG preview (unlikely), some browsers still won't match.
    In short, they're a decent way to throw together a messy page and they "work" in the most basic sense, but they have many issues and if you're serious about web design won't be a good long term solution, so why bother using them temporarily? If you absolutely must do something before you can learn the code, then that's fine, but your results will reflect it.

    If you really want a WYSIWYG editor, that term should give you all the search results you want. Dreamweaver is a pretty standard example. I'm not encouraging it though. The real issue is that an experienced designer would probably be able to fix the problems introduced by coding in a WYSIWYG editor; but they don't need it. And an inexperienced coder just wouldn't know where to start when the program's "magic buttons" don't work in the expected way.


    At a minimum, use a "split view" (one of the better features in Dreamweaver) so that you see the code and the preview at the same time. For a very basic introduction to HTML it can give you the main ideas, but after about a day, it's worth writing the code in better ways rather than relying on what Dreamweaver claims is valid code.

    One way to use a WYSIWYG editor effectively is to use split view and ONLY type in the code section. (An exception is for writing paragraphs of text; if you want to type in the preview window, that's not really a problem, as long as it's already formatted properly.) But if you rely on the preview mode, it'll just slow you down in the end, and often lead to pages that don't show up the way you expect in many browsers.

    And remember that a fundamental limitation (even if everything else works) is that you can only do those things for which there is a command in a WYSIWYG editor; of course you can edit the code directly, so having some understanding of the code (eg, inserting Javascript from Dynamic Drive) is really helpful. The only problem then is that the WYSIWYG editor might actually "fix" your hand-written code, and by "fix", I mean break (eg, disabling the script in an odd way).


    Anyway, I hope that's enough info. Either way, you can find what you need now. I highly recommend a text-only editor that includes FTP and FTP browser so you can edit things directly on the server.
    (Another similar option is to install a local server on your computer then skip dealing with FTP while editing; then all you need to do is copy the files to the real server when the website is done. Either way is fine, it's just harder to setup a server on your computer, although it's completely possible.)
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| español | Deutsch | italiano | português | català | un peu de français | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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    http://www.adobe.com/products/dreamweaver.html

    Adobe® Dreamweaver® CS5.5 is the industry-leading web authoring and editing software that provides both visual and code-level capabilities for creating standards-based websites and designs for the desktop, smartphones, tablets, and other devices.
    Dreamweaver is a great and helpful tool.

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    My post may have come across as a rant about Dreamweaver. I should clarify: that's not just the case for Dreamweaver. It's true for all WYSIWYG editors; DW is just common.

    Plus, Adobe's comment about it is obviously their marketing, although it's very true that it's common.

    If you like Dreamweaver, that's fine, especially because from what I've seen of your posts here, you can also handle using the code. You've avoided the biggest danger with DW, so there's not much to worry about. The problem is when someone doesn't use code and just expects making a website to work, to its full potential, like using MS Word.

    In fact, I used DW for a few years as my main web design program. The reason I moved on was that I wanted something less bulky with the features I wanted to use.

    There are cases where using DW is a good idea, but it's expensive (and there are much cheaper and/or free alternatives that are probably just as useful) and can encourage bad habits. Now I use Text Wrangler (free, but Mac only unfortunately, although there are many similar programs for Windows and Linux). It has two windows: an FTP browser and a text editor, nothing else. It's completely efficient and it has everything I need. Sometimes I do miss being able to click "bold" or "italics" buttons (if I'm editing a lot of text), but I'm really happy with it overall.

    In the end, the main point I'd make against DW is the price. Why would you pay around $400 for something that can be free? Even if DW is a great option, I don't see it as a logical starting option since at that price, it should be used by experts rather than beginners.
    Daniel - Freelance Web Design | <?php?> | <html>| español | Deutsch | italiano | português | català | un peu de français | some knowledge of several other languages: I can sometimes help translate here on DD | Linguistics Forum

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