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Recommendation for FREE HTML Editor

Posted on 2014-03-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2014-03-18
For the past 10+ years, I've used Office 2003 including "FrontPage".   I've now upgraded to Office 2010 Professional...

Does anyone have a recommendation for a solid HTML editor similar to FrontPage?   That is, I'd like it to include the 'code view' and 'web page view'.

Thanks in advance,
Question by:ExpExchHelp
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LVL 35

Assisted Solution

by:Dan Craciun
Dan Craciun earned 200 total points
ID: 39936066
If you're willing to try something new, I like Brackets.

Unlike traditional WYSIWYG editors, it does not have a "web view", i.e. an internal rendering engine (that usually does not match real browsers).

What it does have is a "browser view". Meaning changes you do in the editor are reflected live in the browser.


Author Comment

ID: 39936131

Thanks... I'll give it a try.

LVL 38

Accepted Solution

BillDL earned 1600 total points
ID: 39936199
Microsoft FrontPage 2003 was great for editing because it had such a familiar "office" feel, but it creates fairly "old style" code.  About the closest you will get to this familiarity these days is KompoZer.  Although perfectly functional, the last stable update (other than more recent language editions) was August 2007.

A lot has changed since then, with some traditional code being deprecated.  HTML5 and CSS3 now allow for video playback on supported devices without having to use a Flash-powered embedded Player, and navigation menus formerly reliant on JavaScript can now be done entirely in CSS.  There should now be no need to use tables, because tabular layout can be done with CSS.

The most significant change is the need to create sites that display properly on mobile devices, where the screen elements are "responsive" to the screen size and orientation.  This is usually done using a grid layout where elements can snap to a different position when the screen is small or changed from portrait mode to landscape.  There would be quite a learning curve to code everything from scratch in a text editor.

If you are willing to pay for some editing software, then CoffeeCup Software is one small company that has done its best to create easy to use web editing software that is compliant with HTML5 and CSS3 and creates responsive pages.  For example, they have this responsive layout maker software coming out soon:

I have used and liked their "HTML Editor" ($69), which is really for coding and seeing a  preview, rather than drag and drop editing.  You can load a theme into it though.

Their "FrontPage" type editing software is Visual Site Designer for $49 which is much better than FrontPage in many ways because it creates much more modern coding and CSS.  "Reponsive layout"?  I'm not sure, I have only used some of their older versions, but you could email them and ask.

CoffeeCup Software tends to sell separate applications that will work together when they are installed.  For example, their Web Form Builder ($69) does create responsive forms, which can be a real headache to design yourself from scratch.

All their Windows software is available as trial versions:
They also have some free, but "lighter" and probably less compliant, versions of a couple of their web page design applications:

What you would need to watch for are their "specials" where you can buy several of their applications together for only about a third of the price.

If you really can't affort to buy any software (a bit like me these days), want real ease of use and instant visual design, and aren't too worried about all the very latest HTML/CSS standards (or are prepared to do some of the coding yourself), then I would go back to my suggestion of KompoZer.  Anything other than the above would have me googling "best web page editing software" as you have probably already done.
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LVL 53

Assisted Solution

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
Scott Fell,  EE MVE earned 200 total points
ID: 39936200
Not free, but I like http://www.sublimetext.com/ and http://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm/.  If you are on a PC notpad++ is really good.

Like Dan said, you are best off getting used to viewing in a realbrowser. If you want all the drag and drop stuff along with rendering in the same program, dreamweaver is still the best for that and it does not have all the code bloat it once had.

If you are on a MAC, then check out https://panic.com/coda/.

The options I gave you are all in the $80 to $100 range.  Not free, but not expensive either.  Out of the group, I really like the jetbrains software.    Brackets is going to be one of the better free systems.

And remember there is still http://kompozer.net/, also free.
LVL 38

Assisted Solution

BillDL earned 1600 total points
ID: 39936204
Whoops, I went to edit my question and re-post it, but Scott posted.  I was going to say that Frontpage creates very "Microsoftish" code and assumes that viewers will always have Internet Explorer and that servers will support Frontpage Extensions where serverside support is needed for missing elements.  Let's say it would not feature within the top 40 applications recommended by professional web designers, and I don't think its successor (if it was really a successor) named "Expression"?? would have featured highly in their choices either.

Author Comment

ID: 39938694

Thank for the fantastic information.   I really really appreciate it.

At this time, I don't really need to create the most flashy sites.   Essentially, I want to maintain a site that was created via FrontPage.

While may not be a problem after all, I am a bit concerned when reading that KompoZer's last stable update was released in 2007.   Again, not that I need to develop the fanciest site but I don't want to be worried about a site/system crashing because the SW tool added undesired code.

Also, as part of the upgrade to Word 2010, I've already had to upgrade other software that had a higher priority.   So, my budget is running out.    So, while I've heard about CoffeeCup I prefer a FREE version if possible.

Again, thanks!
LVL 53

Expert Comment

by:Scott Fell, EE MVE
ID: 39938738
Programs like frontpage or dreamweaver are going to have to change on a very regular basis because part of what they do is make it easy.  Frontpage did a great job of creating crappy code in the name of making it easy.  Dreamweaver's drag and drop code was not much better at one time and now it is much better.  Neither Frontpage or Dreamweaver where ever free to start with.  

The only thing you really need is a plain text editor (not word or wordpad).  Notepad++ is free http://notepad-plus-plus.org/ but what Dan has offered is more like an IDE and will get you going http:Q_28390818.html#a39936066 as long as you are ok with using a real browser to check your work.  

If you are looking for a drag and drop thing like frontpage or dreamweaver, it is not going to be found for free.  There are not very many competitors in this space because so many people are using CMS sites like wordpress or all in one CMS sites like wix.com/squarespace.com.

The rest are using fancy text editors that have already been offered.
LVL 38

Expert Comment

ID: 39938773
*** Fresh Edit ***

Thank you.  I didn't realise you had closed the question.

In view of your explanation, then you may have a few issues if you use another visual type editor of similar functionality.  It is possible that it will modify your code somewhat, and although it may be for the better in the long run as far as browser compatibility is concerned, there may be compatibility issues with the way your "site" has been locally stored on your hard drive.

If you have ever inserted any objects (Frontpage > Insert menu > Web Component) and any were reliant on "Browse-Time components" (eg. page hit counters), then other web editing software may not know what to do with the code in the event that you have to add to or modify any of the existing pages, and could screw it up.

The way FrontPage maintains its local web folders, typically:
C:\Documents and Settings\<YourUsername>\My Documents\My Web Sites\
and various microsoft-centric sub-folders and files, may cause issues if you use it to maintain the content as a "web" rather than just creating the odd new page every so often.

Kompozer is fairly configurable, but you will definitely need to go through the settings and check them so that it doesn't rewrite (and possibly improve) the original Frontpage code when opening and resaving existing pages.  For example, under Tools > Options > General tab, there is the option to leave existing code as it is when resaving a page, or to reformat the original source.  If you didn't use CSS in your FrontPage-generated pages, then in the same options tab you would be better turning off the option to use CSS styles instead of HTML elements and attributes.  There are a couple of settings under the Advanced tab with regard to HTML vs XHTML and DTD Strict or Conditional that, if altered on an existing page, may cause some elements previously created in FrontPage not to display as intended.

Frontpage 2003 does not create HTML5-compliant code anyway, so the fact that KompoZer only creates older HTML4 code probably makes it more compatible with your existing pages than any of the CoffeeCup applications (free or retail).  They would certainly rewrite your code unless you changed a lot of settings to make it "old school", and that defeats the purpose.

KompoZer does have a pretty useful CSS editor that allows you to create internal (in <style> tags in the page) or external CSS files, and then create the various styles using a little design tool.  It also has inbuilt FTP that you configure and use to "publish" in the same way as FrontPage allows.  I use the free CoffeeCup FTP application.

So, I suppose it all depends on how complex your pages are.  If they are very standard pages, then I'm sure KompoZer will be fine for your needs.  Just be sure to test it out on a COPY of your locally stored site.

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