Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Open source HTML editors

Long time, no see

It's been a long time between drinks here on the web development blog, but I've started teaching web development again after a stint as an e-learning evangelist, teaching other trainers how to use web technologies to deliver vocational education, so it seemed a good time to dust off the keyboard and post a little more information.

There may be a few things to catch up on...

First up then was a search for a web editing tool that the class could use for the subject: ICAU4207B - Apply web authoring tool to convert client data for websites (you can read more about it on the ntisthis web site).

If you've got the cash and the inclination the daddy of all web authoring tools is undoubtedly Adobe Dreamweaver. They have a student discount but you're still looking at a $400 price tag for the full suite. 
If you're on a budget, there are some free alternatives, and this week we had a look at Blue Griffon.

The good

  • This WYSIWYG editor is available for Mac, PC and linux distros.
  • the no-frills version is free
  • out of the box it's pretty capable and could result in productivity gains

The not-so-good

  • Added functionality will cost you. There are downloadable add-ons ranging in price between $10 and $15. We might need the snippet add-on to address all the performance criteria of the unit
  • There's no documentation (this is one of the 'value added' components you pay for)
So, we took BlueGriffon for a spin in the class last night and I think reactions were mixed. A few students thought that they'd be better off learning an industry standard, and will be looking at buying the education version of the Adobe product. Others could see the advantage of BG, but thought that Notepad++ was easier to use and were a bit reluctant to let it go. I've left it with them for the week and will do a poll next Tuesday to see how many of them want to stick with it. If they do we might build a user manual on wikibooks. On the other hand, we've got a bit of time up our sleeves and there are a few alternatives we could explore, including:
These three are all free and open source, have documentation and run on linux and windows, but I'm not sure about their Mac support.

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