If I had a nickel for every
time someone asked me what Web editor to buy Iíd be a rich woman. The truth
is, there is no one best tool. If you asked a hundred Webmasters, youíd
get a hundred different answers. I asked a couple of experienced Webmasters
to voice their opinion.
||Mike is the webmaster for the Alamo PC Web site and teaches the hands-on HTML class
These days it seems like every software company has a product that it
claims will help you develop your own razzle-dazzle web site with no need
to learn HTML. But which ones, if any, work? The answer is: none.
As I frequently tell my students, there is no web development tool that
will do the job it claims to. I have tried most of them and all have serious
This is not to say that they should not be used. A site of the size
and complexity of Alamo PC (approximately 5000 files) cannot be built or
maintained manually, however, no HTML editor can be relied on exclusively.
Having said that, my primary tool is Netscape Composer.
It is available for free download from
as part of the Netscape Communicator Suite (22.6 MB, be prepared to wait
for it). Stay with version 4.76, it plugs the security holes that were
in earlier versions, there are a lot of new holes in version 6.
Composer is quick and easy to use. It installs itself into the Windows
Property Popup (right-click) so that a document can be loaded directly
from the Windows Explorer or the Desktop. Arranging elements in the page
is as simple as drag-and-drop and formatting uses menus and toolbars just
like any WYSIWYG word processor. Composerís shortcomings include that it
cannot handle frames or forms, it will simply display an icon indicating
that something more is there and cannot create these elements. When moving
or copying a list from one document to another, the last item will frequently
be outside the list.
To remedy these problems, I most often use Notepad, great
for quick-and-dirty editing. Even Notepad has its shortcomings, though.
When I built my genealogy
site I had to break up the index into 35 different files to get a manageable
file size. That required updating several thousand links. WordPadís
global Search-and-Replace feature proved to be a lifesaver (Notepad has
Search but no Replace).
has some features that are particularly useful in site management, it can
verify both internal and external links. Another neat feature is that when
a file is renamed or moved, all links are automatically updated. The downside
of FrontPage (Iím using FrontPage 98) is that it trashes directories, copying
files all over the place.
Most of my graphics work is done with PaintShop Pro 5
from JASC. I have been
trying to get a review copy of the new version 7 but Tim Hoke has been
unable to get a copy (JASC, if youíre reading this, work with me).
PaintShop packs a lot of power for a relatively small price. The use of
layers makes composite images easy, as in Larryís portrait in the Presidentís
Report page was actually put together from 4 different images. Animated
GIFs are done with AnimationPro, also from JASC. A great
product for 3D graphics is RayDream Designer. This product
is 5-6 years old and I donít think is still available. RayDream is a modeling
based ray tracer, that mean it creates images by calculating the path of
light rays reflecting off of objects. RayDream also does animation but
animated GIF files are usually too large for web use, it can also create
Web development and maintenance can be a time consuming job. Let the
computer do the work and donít depend on any one software package to get
the job done.
I grudgingly left my Hotdog Webmaster's Suite at home and am now working
at a small non-profit organization as the Website Administrator. The organization
is experiencing growth pains from a small group to over 60 employees in
two states. FrontPage 2000 replaced FP98 when I got there and I was kind
of lost with it's different interface, but since I had Notepad and I had
my registered copy of Qedit on floppy. I was ready to rumble!
Luckily, I arrived during the organization's slow season and assessed
the site's structure ó Aaaugh! Like many novice Webmasters,
my predecessor wasn't that prudent in laying out the site - over 100-files
in the root. I used FrontPage to manually move files but quickly learned
that it only seemed to preserve the links if only one file at a time was
moved. If more than that was moved, it didn't reconfigure for the new file
locations, which was more work for me.
Quickly, I found I was developing a love/hate relationship with this
program. Sure, it boasted a lot of bells and whistles over FP 98, but I
stayed close to familiar stuff. Slowly I stumbled onto other items that
I would eventually need: marquees, reports view, nesting tables, check
broken links, etc. but was frustrated not to be able to use smaller font
sizes, -1, -2,...
You'd figure that exporting an MSWord file into MS FrontPage would be
simple - uh-uh. Too much garbage is left and has to be removed for the
page to be viewed correctly. FP2000 has "Remove Formatting" which isn't
pretty, or clean. Stripping "dirty-code" with Notepad was becoming routine
for me and other users I spoke with also. I do feel a bit limited with
this product and we are now looking at more robust software (Macromedia's
Dreamweaver UltraDev, Fireworks, Flash, & Freehand) especially since
there is now a request to do e-commerce, intranet, redesign website, etc.
As with some of the other HTML editors, your ISP must support FrontPage
extensions to make your website happen.
My current hardware setup is: HP's Pavillion, ScanJet 5200C, DeskJet812C,
and my 17" Viewsonic monitor. I've outgrown the Pavillion and am configuring
a new system to allow for growth. Support software I find useful: ACDSee
to manage images, Qedit & Notepad, Adobe Acrobat 3.0 to create/read
PDFs, SnagIt, and Fireworks.
The website has grown considerably in size (22MB in June 2000 to 86MB
in Jan 2001). We have a monthly magazine on PDF plus press releases, which
add to the overall site.
Do I like FrontPage 2000? It gets the job done, but definitely needs
Check out: [http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/]
for additional information on Microsoft FrontPage 2000
I was one of the early adopters of HomeSite, an HTML editor
that advertises a WYSIWYN interface ó What
Need. It boasts
of more than a million downloads, is the preferred editor for professional
Web site developers and has swept every award imaginable.
HomeSite is ideal for experienced web designers who want total control
over their code. I have experimented with some WYSIWYG - What
Get - editors
and was dismayed at the weird code that most of them created - when
they let you look at the code. The core of HomeSite is a simple
text editor, similar to NotePad. The added features are what make it sing.
Dedicated buttons call up dialog boxes to simplify routine procedures,
such as changing fonts and colors or adding hyperlinks. There is a menu
bar for extended characters, so you don't have to remember that ™
is the code for ô. You can create templates for repetitive pages. One of
the best features is the project manager, which allows you to group files
by project and perform global search and replace actions on an entire Web
site. It has a spell checker. A feature I use frequently is the document
weight estimate, which calculates the approximate download speed of each
page at different modem rates.
The program is available
for download ; you can use it for 60 days before you are required to
remove it from your system or pay the $89 registration fee. Although Iíve
upgraded to version 4.5 I confess that I still use an older version.
I recently bought Macromedia DreamWeaver cheaply at a
computer show in New Jersey; Iíve played around with it but find the screen
in DreamWeaver and love it. DreamWeaver also has a feature that removed
Front Page garbage code, which I have also found useful. Iím looking forward
to finding time to explore all the features of this program. My brother
gave me a good DreamWeaver tip. He recommends using the Windows 98 capability
to install two monitors on two video cards. On one monitor, dump all of
the palettes that clutter up the screen. On the other monitor, display
the now pristine work area. It works for him.
My primary graphics program is Adobe Photoshop 6.0, which
comes bundled with ImageReady to reduce the size of my graphics. I also
have PaintShop Pro 5 installed, which I use for some very
specific features. For example, Photoshop doesnít have a utility to automatically
draw a box around a graphic; PaintShop Pro does. Itís also easier in PaintShop
Pro to add a texture or pattern fill to a graphic. I keep CorelDraw
installed to fit text to path. I also use Adobe Acrobat 4
to create PDF files.
I have a scanner and two digital cameras. My digital drawing pad in
on loan to a friend. I use Cute FTP for uploads and now that
Iíve listed all of that I realize I need a bigger, better and faster computer.