Software

Five HTML editors for Web experts

If you're a seasoned Webmaster, you may appreciate an HTML editor with advanced development and site management features.

A fair number of HTML editors are available for Web designers and Webmasters. Many people prefer to stick with text editors and the "save, refresh in browser, fix" cycle. But if you are looking for more out of your HTML editor than syntax highlighting or perhaps a bit of HTML auto-completion, check out these five HTML editors aimed at the experienced HTML coder.

Note: If you're new to Web design, you might want to start with one of the tools listed in Five HTML editors for Web novices.

1: Microsoft Expression Web

My favorite HTML editor for a long time was HomeSite -- until Adobe shut it down. Since then, I've found that Microsoft Expression Web is a great choice. It has fantastic preview functionality, even letting you easily see the differences between how various browsers render the page. It has the same level of site management that HomeSite had, and it can do some basic ASP.NET forms and such. Most surprising is its adherence to Web standards, given that it is a Microsoft product.

2: Dreamweaver

Dreamweaver is the choice of many professional Web developers, and it's probably the most well-known right now. One of Dreamweaver's neat features is that as you develop, it can show you what the page will look like on different screens, like tablets and phones, at the same time. Dreamweaver also has lots of support for AJAX, PHP, and a variety of content management systems.

3: CoffeCup's The HTML Editor

The HTML Editor is very much like the late, great HomeSite. It has a stripped-down feature set focused around a code-only view. While it lacks some of the features that other editors have, if you are the kind of Webmaster or designer who prefers to 100% hand code things and you don't care for the tool doing things on its own, The HTML Editor deserves a look.

4: Aptana

Aptana is an open source Web development IDE built on top of Eclipse. It is also designed to work with both PHP and Ruby (and Ruby on Rails). Although it has a lot of features for Web development beyond HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the nature of the languages it supports means that it also needs to be a good HTML editor. It ties to the Git source control system and can deploy not only over the usual routes, but also through Capistrano and to Rails hosts in the cloud.

5: HTML-Kit Tools

HTML-Kit Tools has a number of novel features, including built-in file versioning and the ability to have a real-time update window on a second monitor that changes as you type. If you find that its already low price is too much, you can use the previous version for free.

Your picks

Have you had a good experience using any of the tools on this list? What HTML editor is your all-time favorite?

About

Justin James is the Lead Architect for Conigent.

17 comments
david_horsman
david_horsman

It can be very difficult to resolve the need to be productive and use tools with the issue of getting tied into 3rd party vendor solutions and all that implies. In my own case that might mean accepting the primary development platform (say MS VS for C#,) but being reluctant to go beyond that despite there being some good tools out there. However, a few criteria include: 1) Does this tool break with industry standards (say Flash?) 2) Does the tool have a large enough user base that the vendor won't constantly be soaking me to pay for development? 3) How difficult would it be to switch to this tool? 4) How difficult would it be to switch to other environments later if I change my mind? 5) Is the tool a good value (or will a single project pay for it?) 6) How well does it work in combination with other tools? I am sure others could add to this list. So, on the one hand, an editor is not an IDE; on the other it might be the only tool you use. I have to ask how tools like ColdFusion, Dreamweaver and Microsoft's offerings compare to open source solutions like NetBeans where you by definition you are getting much more than you paid for. Regards, Dave Horsman

terry2257
terry2257

I have uses KompoZer for years (the old NVU) and found it easy to use to set up your first basic website

david_horsman
david_horsman

Lots of web work here with basic tools I notice. I am hand coding (fun) all of a client side JS project. Any editor will do that at least collapses bracing and tags and also has robust search and replace (i.e. with regex?) . I was sort of cheating by having Visual Studio open for find results, That also seems an essential feature. Much of my work is really being done in the browser debugger instead which invariably points directly to a line thus making the editor no longer the most important tool where features are concerned. You gotta love intellisense technology though.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

I also have NuSphere PhpED, which is not just good for .php development (which I use for some websites), but is great for testing, since it acts as a web host environment so you can see the results of .html and .php with active testing (it supports access to sqlite, for example). It has extensive debugging capabilities and uses automatic completion of statements. It seems as good and as cheap as Zend. It is a tremendous product for a fairly reasonable price.

premiertechnologist
premiertechnologist

I have Dreamweaver but never use it. I have Coffee Cup's HTML editor, but never use it (but use several of their other products). I use Microsoft Expression Web extensively -- an excellent resource which now works 100% of the time (example web at DNArefutesBI.com). However, I do use and have used Xara to generate websites (a current one is ChurchCorporate.com). Their Xara Web Designer 7 Premium has excellent potential if you don't mind letting Xara do everything for you. It uses JavaScript rather heavily and at the moment only supports fixed web page widths. The premier web generator product of choice is Artisteer 3. You can design the website from the ground up, selecting nearly every format you want for everything from the header to the footer in fixed or fluid pages with automatic navigation with either horizontal or vertical navigation. Moreover, it supports HTML, Wordpress, Drupal, Blogger, DotNetNuke, Joomla, CodeCharge or aspx.net export formats. The aspx.net is really slick and can easily generate most of the aspx.net code and templates you need to build an extensive website -- especially handy if you continue the development in Microsoft Studio 2010 with C# (take care to maintain the integrity of the .css and .jss files it generates). Website layout maker is... interesting. You might try it out if you are at a loss for designing websites, in the absence of Artisteer 3.

mcmercer
mcmercer

i've been using Arachnophilia since the late '90s. the OLD version: http://www.arachnoid.com/arachnophilia/index_old.html in 12+years i've only run into one person who'd heard of it before i told them about it, and i suspect HE was humoring me. It's been updated to a Java version. tried that. went back. i AM old enough to be one of those cranky old guys who code in Notepad... or vi... this is a step or two above that. it colors tags, and "beautifies" the code. if i have a problem with a file of ANY kind, this will open it. may not be able to fix anything, but i can open it and look around. I've taught HTML several times, along with Java, C#, VB... used jGrasp, Visual Studio (from version 6 thru 2008) and have installed and tried about every free editor i was able to find. most all have pluses but if i need to do commando coding, this'll "git 'er done" faster than anything i've used. no fuss, no muss, no waste. and if you've never read the author's "Careware" concept http://www.arachnoid.com/careware/, i'd recommend it. strongly. then DO IT. and use whatever editor lets YOU get your job done.

Dethpod
Dethpod

Not so much Aptana but Eclipse in general ROXX! But I find myself using DW more and more as more of my logic moves from server to client side. DW 5.5 and Aptana are the best JS editors I have seen to date. DW's Live code view is Amazing.

spacepioneer
spacepioneer

HTML-KIt v2.92 free, is better than the tools upgrade, which is too pricey. The free version has lots of built in features and 400+ plugins available. Also, I found another free editor similar to HTML-Kit, called Trellian Code Pad. It isn't quite as hefty as HTML-Kit, but is still a great free editor. and last, a free editor that is suppose to work similar to Dreamweaver and meet standards compliance, is KompoZer 0.7.10. Please check them out and see if you agree. Thanks.

valencia.david
valencia.david

I also like MS Expressions, but Expressions Web 4 is really buggy with lots of random crashes. Also, sometimes the Publishing feature stops working and logging back in to the FTP is useless. Overall, the features outweigh the buggy nature and I am holding out for a service pack that fixes these.

starke88
starke88

I recently found about Microsoft WebMatrix. It's free and works perfectly for my needs.

davidmp
davidmp

Expressions web is my favorite because of the way it handles images. I can place, crop, scale images and upload the image without photoshop.

sergio.bobillier
sergio.bobillier

I am a web developer, so I get the HTML from the designers and add all the interaction and dynamic content with PHP. For editing PHP there is no better alternative but also for editing HTML there NetBeans IDE is a great editor. It has a lot of great features for example it tells me when there are broken tags (tags with no matching closing tag), it alerts me of broken JavaScript object syntax, when I write class=" it shows me a list of all classes defined in the linked CSSs and it does something that I haven't found in any other editor so far. It show me the functions on jQuery and jQuery plug-ins. For example if I write $("#address"). it show me the full list of jQuery methods (including plug-ins functions like jqGrid) pretty nice huh?.

david_horsman
david_horsman

I'd definitely recommend against this one. In using it I got the sense that the code has not been rewritten since it's original creation. I might be wrong but it performs poorly in such a way I have to wonder and it matters little as to where the problem originates from.

Justin James
Justin James

That was one of the first HTML editors I used, back in the late 90's. I remember it being good, but liking HomeSite much better. J.Ja

davidibaldwin
davidibaldwin

I tried it once for some special features that HTML-Kit wouldn't do but we didn't get along. That may have been the same day you got it 12 years ago...

davidibaldwin
davidibaldwin

I have been using HTML-KIt v2.92 for three forevers now (I actually paid for it I liked it so much) and I bought HTML-KIt Tools also though it doesn't get much use. Another editor that I use a lot is PSPad. Written in Europe, it is more language and character set aware than HTML-Kit. And on Linux, I use Bluefish for HTML and PHP.

Justin James
Justin James

I haven't had any issues with Exp. Web 4, and they did recently release an SP, which may help you. J.Ja