Sunday, August 06, 2006

Freeware HTML Editors

No, I haven't been on a compulsive-obsessive posting kick.

I've just had a little more time than usual on my hands, and a slightly bigger pile of interesting (well, to me) links I've come across.

I'm not HTML coder. I have a big book I constantly refer to when I do my blog template tweaking. I check out the code on pages that have layouts and elements I like. And I just practice, practice, practice.

Here are some useful HTML editing programs you might be interested in that I use and a new one I just discovered:

Notepad2: (freeware) A good old notepad tool. This remains the coder's best friend. Nothing like a blank sheet to work out the HTML code on. It's a zenlike experience. Notepad2 remains my notepad replacement tool of choice. I've even changed my systems' default text viewer application to launch this one instead of Microsoft's notepad. What makes Notepad2 so special is that it can automatically highlight syntax schemes for a multitude of different text related files: HTML, XML, CSS, JavaScript, VBScript, ASP, PHP, CSS, Perl/CGI, C/C++, C#, Java, VB, Pascal, Assembler, SQL, Python, NSIS, INI, REG, INF, BAT, DIFF. Syntax highlighting really saves time and aggravation in keeping track of elements.

EasyHtml: (freeware) ToniArts HTML editor. When I am trying out new HTML elements, this program is dead-useful. There are 18 different wizard tools to help start your element coding off. This application helps me to understand the relationships between each of the HTML code elements and I am frequently pasting code I've copied off the Net into here to better analyze it. The interface is still a little Win98'sh, but the program itself is top-notch.

PSPad: (freeware) With a more polished interface that EasyHtml, this is a very useful application. It can edit HEX code, compare text differences between two files, spell check, explore code, has an integrated FTP application, and shows projects in a "tree-view". Nice application.

NVu: (freeware) This is a really clever application and is available in versions for Linux, Windows and Macintosh. What is cool about this program is the four tab-views available during coding. You can quickly switch between normal, HTML tag, source, and preview modes. This allows you to see the different elements very quickly. It can handle form editing and creation, CSS editing, a wonderfully helpful color picker tool, and the ability to call to W3C's HTML validator natively, this is a really helpful tool. Also available in a portable version.

Finally, on Friday I stumbled across a new HTML coding suite on the Net block.

Aptana: (freeware/beta) From the developer's site: "Aptana is a robust, JavaScript-focused IDE for building dynamic web applications. Highlights include the following features: Code Assist on JavaScript, HTML, and CSS languages, including your own JavaScript functions; Outliner that gives a snapshot view of your JavaScript, HTML, and CSS code structure; Error and warning notification for your code; Support for Aptana UI customization and extensions; Cross-platform support; Free and open source. (Source available soon).

Not being a programmer by nature, I wondered if I really had need of "JavaScript-focused IDE" application. I don't program Java and only rarely need to go in and modify Firefox xpi files and Java code. This sounded like overkill, but the screenshots looked so pretty and useful I decided to take it for a spin. The 44MB download file shows this is no light-weight app. Installed, it expanded to about 82MB. Once I got it going, it really amazed me.

The polish on this thing is very evident. It looks almost MacOS X like, rather than XP or Win9x. It takes a few extra seconds to launch on our laptop system, but one going, it it very responsive. I tested it by using it to open an HTML code page I had saved up and it was quite easy to pick up and begin using. I found the code validator at the bottom to be quite helpful and easy to understand. If you are just getting into learning HTML code, don't let the JavaScript and CSS coding focus for this application's description scare you away. It is a really nice program and I look forward to seeing it released from beta status.

And what is an IDE application? Well that's just scarry sounding tech lingo. Per the Wikipedia IDE is: "An integrated development environment (IDE), also known as integrated design environment and integrated debugging environment, is a type of computer software that assists computer programmers to develop software."

So grab a HTML tool or tool, they are all free so you can't feel guilty about taking a dip into the pool.


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