The de facto standard of Web authoring products today is either Microsoft FrontPage or Adobe's Dreamweaver. Both products are widely used to develop sophisticated Web sites but, unfortunately, are only available for Windows or the Mac (Dreamweaver will run on both). Linux users can make use of either program using systems such as VMware or Crossover Office.
An exceptional alternative to FrontPage or Dreamweaver is Nvu, which is available for Windows and the Mac, as well as for Linux. Nvu was developed using the same rendering engine used by Firefox: the Gecko engine.
Nvu is a WYSIWYG editor, but it also allows you to quickly edit the source HTML by flipping tabs on a source file. It provides remote file management via FTP, a CSS editor, a form editor, and much more. Downloading and installing Nvu is a snap: from the Web site, click the Downloads link. There are a number of binary packages available for a variety of different operating systems and Linux variants, as well as the source code to compile your own.
Note that Nvu is strictly an HTML editor; attempting to open a PHP file with Nvu, for instance, will make it want to open the file with another application or save it to disk.
The layout of Nvu is typical of an HTML editor or Web authoring program. It allows you to view the HTML source, preview the page, show the HTML tags used on the page, and use the WYSIWYG editing mode. It allows you to define sites—the real Web address of the site as well as FTP directory and login credentials. The downside here is that Nvu doesn't support more secure file transfer protocols such as SFTP or SSH. Likewise, it doesn't support version control systems like CVS or Subversion. However, with the site setup, you can select the site from the sidebar and have a listing of the files and other assets available on the FTP server, so you can edit files remotely in this way.
Whether it's for work or a hobby, Nvu is a good choice for Web development applications. It satisfies basic requirements, and the number of features it provides—while perhaps not quite as sophisticated as commercial programs like Dreamweaver—are impressive, nonetheless. It is especially useful if you're looking for something to run in a cross-platform environment, as Nvu runs on Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
Delivered each Tuesday, TechRepublic's free Linux NetNote provides tips, articles, and other resources to help you hone your Linux skills. Automatically sign up today!
Vincent Danen works on the Red Hat Security Response Team and lives in Canada. He has been writing about and developing on Linux for over 10 years and is a veteran Mac user.