Jamie Balfour

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Part 2.2Choosing an editor

Part 2.2Choosing an editor

HTML is an incredibly easy to learn language. Because both XML and HTML are forms of object model, that is for HTML the DOM or Document Object Model, they are very similar. Understanding how XML is created makes learning HTML pretty simple.

In the most basic form, HTML is an element containing elements which in turn contain elements and so on. In reality, a document is a tree structure that contains each element and so on. In HTML, elements can contain text as pure text and a paragraph. In XML, this is strictly not the case. This will become apparent later.

Choosing an editor

The use of a HTML editor is to create a website. There are many different web editors out there, but the best ones tend to be the ones already installed on any operating system by default.


WYSIWYG or 'What You See Is What You Get' is an attempt to create a 'drag and drop' web design product. As such, many of these exist, but never quite made it to perfect status. WYSIWYG can be useful in certain ways that a standard text editor is not - for instance writing long paragraphs of text.

WYSIWYG is a long way from being as powerful as what is referred to as 'pure HTML' in that the majority of tasks still cannot be achieved with a WYSIWYG editor. However, as mentioned above, it is useful to have a WYSIWYG editor for longer pieces of text, and so there are several good ones out there for this task such as:

  • Microsoft FrontPage 2003 (replaced by the next in the list)
  • Microsoft Expression Web 4 (replaced by Visual Studio 2013)
  • Adobe Dreamweaver
  • iWeb (Mac users, no longer available)
  • *Microsoft Word* - use this one very carefully, it creates some bad HTML

Development using a WYSIWYG is often a very good place to start, but with it, one does not get the full potential of HTML and server side code such as PHP.

Editors such as WIX's editor are actually getting better all the time. The only issue that a lot of developers have with these editors is the lack of uniqueness they provide.

Text editor

Text editors are the recommendation in this area. Using such an application will permit the development of pure HTML from start to finish. The only way to edit CSS, PHP etc. is with a text editor anyway.

A text editor is an application that allows the editting of raw text. This is how HTML is stored on the web. One of the purest text editors out there is simply Notepad for Windows, as it allows the files to be stored in .txt. A general list of text editors that can be used for HTML include:

  • Notepad
  • Notepad++
  • gEdit
  • Bluefish
  • Microsoft FrontPage 2003 (has a code view)
  • Microsoft Expression Web 4 (also has a code view)
  • Adobe Dreamweaver (also has a code view)
  • TextEdit

Microsoft Word is not a text editor. It is a rich text editor and more (a word processor). WordPad is also not a text editor, again, it is a rich text editor.

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